Thursday, January 14, 2010

Brenda Kipp: Cats Are Funny People

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a cat person. I got my first cat when I was eight years old, and I’ve had cats off and on ever since. There was a 12-year period when I didn’t own a cat, but I did some catsitting for a few friends.

You don’t have to be a cat owner for very long to realize that every cat has its own unique personality and little quirks, just like humans. Pom-Pom was the cat I had when I was growing up. He was a large cat and very laid-back; he let me dress him in doll clothes, but he wasn’t crazy about riding in the doll carriage. Kelley, my sister’s cat, was Pom-Pom’s “cousin” (their mothers were littermates); she was quiet and had a sweet personality. Smokey was a stray that we took in after my brother’s cat died (I don’t remember much about Tiger). She was small, but she made up for it by being aggressive at times.

Meg (my first cat after the 12-year cat “drought”) was mild-mannered unless I did something she didn’t like; then she became “Miss Sassy.” She was my girl, and she slept with me. Tandy was my people cat — she knew no stranger and took everything in stride. I rarely heard her complain. She was my oldest living cat to date; she was 18, and I had her for 17 of those years. Poudre is cautiously friendly and quite vocal, while his sister, Mika, is quiet and somewhat shy. However, like most little sisters, she can hold her own against her big brother. As I did with Pom-Pom, I raised them from birth. They’ve never been great snugglers (and they still don’t like being held for long), but since Tandy has been gone, they’ve been snuggling with me more.

Cats are a wonderful source of entertainment and a great way to relieve stress (it’s a scientific fact that petting a cat lowers a person’s blood pressure, and pet owners live longer). I look forward to going home to my cats after a long, tiring day at work. They seem to come out of nowhere to greet me as soon as they hear my voice. They bring a sense of calm to my life, and I hope I never have to be without a feline companion again.

If you are considering getting a cat, want to know more about the cat (or cats) you have, or just enjoy reading books about cats, you’ll want to get your paws (pardon the pun) on two books: The Cat Behavior Answer Book and Happy Cat, Happy You, both by animal behavior consultant Arden Moore.

Happy Cat, Happy You has helpful hints on caring for kittens and senior cats, feline dental care and first aid, multicat households, grooming, traveling tips, and cat nutrition — including delectable recipes especially suited for cats. The book also has helpful phone numbers and Web site information.

One of the many tips from the book I found interesting suggested putting cedar chips in the cat’s bed to ward off fleas. Apparently, fleas don’t like the cedar smell — who knew?

Have you often wondered why your cat kneads your stomach before she lies down on your lap? Are you curious as to why cats go crazy over catnip? Are you confounded by your cat’s mysterious meows? Then The Cat Answer Behavior Book is just the resource you need. Moore answers a multitude of questions from cat owners about cat behavior, vocalization, peculiar habits, litter box issues, feeding, grooming, and keeping your indoor cat happy.

The book also includes feline facts, such as where the phrase “the cat’s pajamas” came from, when the first cat show was held, and which cat holds the world record for the most toes.

In the 40-some years I’ve been a cat owner, I thought I knew everything there was to know about cats until I read these two books. Every cat owner would benefit by reading them. Who wouldn’t want to better understand and take care of her feline companions to ensure they lead happy, healthy lives?

By the way, Moore didn’t leave out dog lovers. She’s also the author of the books, Happy Dog, Happy You and The Dog Behavior Answer Book, also from Storey Publishing.

Photos by Brenda L. Kipp

A native Kansan, Brenda Kipp loves wide-open spaces and the history of the Old West. She’s a freelance writer and former editor of Capper’s magazine. She continues to work for Ogden Publications (publisher of Capper’s) as a circulation specialist. Her hobbies include reading, writing, genealogy, traveling, cooking, gardening, and spending time with family and friends. She lives in Topeka with her three cats.

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