Pets

What makes your tabby tick? Three new books answer your questions about cats

We at Pet Connection have always suspected that cats are aliens who have enslaved us to do their furry bidding. They train us to feed them, scoop their litter boxes and be their sidekicks – when they want us to be.

Cats are the most popular pets in the United States, with between 74 and 96 million of them sharing our homes. More than half a billion have colonized the world. And yet, they are still alien to many people. Fortunately, three authors have taken on the challenge of revealing the secrets of cats in all their infinite variety.

Abigail Tucker grew up with cats, but it wasn’t until she became a mother herself that the science writer began to explore the lure of the cat, struck by her daughters’ absorption with them. With her cat Cheetoh as muse, she explores feline natural history, behavior and relationships with humans in her book “The Lion in the Living Room.”

There are lots of theories about why cats and people joined forces. Usually, it’s related to cats protecting food from vermin. But when cats came indoors as companions, it was a real game-changer. Tucker’s exploration of the results of that move, in the chapter “Pandora’s Litter Box,” is both funny and fascinating. Other chapters address wild cats, feline evolution, the war between cats and birders, feline genetics, exotic cat breeds and more.

Whereas Tucker gives an overarching view of the little hypercarnivores, cat expert Ramona Marek has written a guide to living with them successfully. Marek says the biggest mistake people make with cats is believing the myth that they are self-sufficient, aloof and solitary.

“Cats are domesticated companion animals who depend on us for food, social interaction and health care,” she says.

In “Cats for the GENIUS,” Marek offers readers the opportunity to “create a paw-sitive relationship with your cat from the start!” She says people are often surprised to learn that cats prefer to have food and water in different areas. They don’t know that cats are true carnivores with specific nutritional requirements. “Catification hacks” help them set up their homes in ways cats will like.

For a more specialized take on feline foibles, award-winning author Dusty Rainbolt talks to veterinarians, veterinary behaviorists and cat consultants about the No. 1 – and No. 2 – cat behavior problem: inappropriate elimination. In other words, not using the litter box.

In “Cat Scene Investigator: Solve Your Cat’s Litter Box Mystery,” Rainbolt takes readers through the detective work necessary to figure out which cat is the culprit in a multipet home, why he’s breaking cat law by peeing or pooping outside the box and how to send him to rehab instead of death row. Often, he’s not misbehaving at all, but reacting to a treatable medical problem or a conflict with a person or other pet. Rainbolt’s tips address how to identify and resolve issues and, best of all, how to get rid of the stain and stink.

“Litter box behavior is complicated,” Rainbolt says. “It’s like a mile-long mathematical equation. There are a lot of potential variables. But once you figure out what the variables are, you can solve the problem.”

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton.

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