“A cat’s a cat and that’s that” proclaims the old folk saying, but readers will find there is much more to it when they delve into this twenty-fourth book in the Little Big Books series. Fiction and nonfiction stories about cats are intertwined with poetry, jokes, games, trivia, and tips for clicker training and proper cat care. Famous felines like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire-Cat reside alongside less well-known characters, such as the many barn cats of Mrs. Bond, a client of veterinarian/author James Herriot, who describes her unique style of calling each cat to her by name.
Even politics has its place here, with then Illinois governor Adlai Stevenson’s veto of the “Act to Provide Protection to Insectivorous Birds by Restraining Cats” on the grounds that “the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.”
Editor Tabori is the publisher of Welcome Books, and Wong is a project director for that publisher who has edited numerous titles, including The Little Big Book for Moms and The Little Big Book for Grandmothers. What sets this book apart from other, similar volumes is that its entertainment value is matched by its practicality for both prospective and current cat owners. There are cat-care tips on everything from choosing a pet food and giving medication to brushing and bathing. The valuable instructions for “clicker training” for both tricks and behavior modification start with the basics of acclimating the cat to the clicker-and-treat model and grow in difficulty to teaching a cat to pick up objects in its mouth and stay off the counter.
Directions for creating homemade toys and games are sprinkled throughout, along with recipes for treats that cats will find irresistible. An easy toy that mixes play with treats is the Kitty Kong. The editors note that the popular Kong dog toys are too heavy for cats to enjoy, but a low-tech version made by spreading peanut butter or Cheez Whiz inside an empty toilet paper tube is perfect for hours of play.
The short entries make this book ideal for picking up to read whenever there are just a few minutes available, like on bus rides or while waiting at the doctor’s office, and the vintage illustrations add to the warm feeling that this book conveys. As many cat owners know, a good sense of humor goes a long way in living compatibly with an animal known for its independent and often haughty attitude. Any book that looks to match the mind-set of a serious cat owner must also have its share of humor: “How many cats does it take to screw in a light bulb? BIRMAN CAT: ‘Puh-leeez, dahling. I have servants for that kind of thing.’”