Great Book Gift Ideas for the Cat Lover – Volume I

Holidays are stressful enough! Add the frustration of what to get that pet owner who has everything, and you have a little more angst in your life. If that individual is owned by a cat, here is wide range of books, any one of which is certain to be a big hit with the gift recipient:

The Cat Book of Lists: Facts, Furballs, and Foibles From Our Favorite Felines, by Stephen J. Spignesi. New Page Books, $16.99.

This eclectic mix represents the author's sixth lists book, so that should give you a clue as to his ability to compile off-the-wall facts and figures about his subject.

The devoted owner of two cats, Spignesi has included chapters like Cat Stats, Four Ways to Calculate a Cat's Age, Five Jobs for Cat Lovers, 10 Secrets of Your Cat's Tail, 30 Cat(ch) Phrases, 41 Ways to Say Cat, 44 Substances Toxic to Cats, The 19 Bones of the Cat, A Cabinet of White House Cats, Five Really Cheap Cat Toys. You get the idea.Here's a taste of what you'll find.

21 Facts About Your Cat's Senses:

Lists is a fun-filled read. It's the type of volume you can set down anytime, pick up an hour later and not miss a beat.

Cat Haiku by Deborah Coates. Warner Books, $13.95.

Here's another chance to sit back and laugh. In case you're unfamiliar with haiku, it is a three-line, unrhymed Japanese verse, with five, seven and five syllables, respectively.

Cats were Coates' inspiration to write the delightful volume, since they are "the animal embodiment of haiku," she claims.

"Both (haiku and cats) are subtle, elegant, succinct, every nuance is fraught with meaning (however obscure that meaning may sometimes be, and believe me, it frequently is).

"You pay attention when you read haiku because you don't want to miss anything, and you pay attention when cats are around because you don't want to miss anything, either," emphasizes the author. "Also, both cats and haiku have staying power. Domestic cats have been around the since the heyday of ancient Egypt, and haiku dates from the 17th century or thereabouts."

Appropriately, chapters carry such labeling as Socializing, Recreation, Home Decorating, Food and Drink, Under the Weather, Small Amusements, Secret Pleasures and several others.

Here are several examples:
"A cat friend visits,
I swat him anyway, just
For principle's sake."

"Look at it from my perspective:
Clean laundry is
Meant for prowling in."

"I like to rub my
Head against you. Affection?
Nope – my ears just itch."

CatSpeak: How to Learn It, Speak It and Use It to Have a Happy Healthy, Well-Mannered Cat by Bash Dibra with Elizabeth Randolph. G.P Putnam's Sons, $23.95.

Dibra, a New Yorker, is best noted as a dog trainer and for three books about the species, including DogSpeak. While CatSpeak represents a change of literary direction for him, Randolph's expertise on the feline front makes her the perfect collaborator.

The intent of this manual, like others before it, is to teach owners to better communicate with their cats by interpreting their body language and understanding their basic senses and instincts.

While cat owners will find this volume valuable, it will be even more useful for future owners, since it focuses on selecting the right breed or mixed breed, the homecoming, behavior tips, establishing yourself as top cat, fun activities to do with your cat.

Consider it a coach's playbook for strategizing. As in collegiate and professional sports, not all plays work the first time; they take fine-tuning. But CatSpeak certainly provides options and insight into making good decisions, which, in turn, will enable you to maximize a positive relationship with that feline in your life.

The Cat and the Human Imagination: Feline Images from Bast to Garfield by Katharine Rogers. University of Michigan Press. $17.95.

OK, we're getting more serious here. For the cat fancier who's interested in the origins of the species and its travels and travails since, this is the purrfect selection.

In the opening chapter, "Why Cats Inspire Our Imagination," Rogers says, "Only in recent times, as we have come increasingly to like and value cats, has our language begun to reflect any appreciation of the animal's beauty, coordination, poise and style. Although a woman would still object to being called a cat, she may like to be praised for feline grace and seductiveness."

And it just gets better.

Cat, What is That? by Tony Johnston. Paintings by Wendell Minor. HarperCollins. $15.95.

This is a is a delightful mix of rhythmic prose and artistry, catching the cat on the farm, on a fence top beneath the moon, staring at goldfish in a bowl, asleep on the couch while it snows outside and in many other spots where you'd expect to find it.

While it's designed for children, "Cat" is a show personality profile that will draw laughs from readers 8 to 80.

The Kitten Owner's Manual by Arden Moore. Storey Books. $12.95.

A companion to "The Puppy Owner's Manual," this is a handy resource for anyone with a kitten in his/her future. But remember, kittens (and cats, for that matter) often seek us out rather than vice versa. Hence, many of us unexpectedly find ourselves a cat owner overnight. Moore serves up plenty of food for thought here, which will save you veterinary bills and make the introduction of a kitten in your household as smooth as possible.

While virtually all of the information has been published many times over, it is organized in an easy-read fashion that qualifies it as a primer any new kitten owner should strongly consider for his/her library.

For ideas on more great books, see Great Book Gift Ideas for the Cat Lover – Volume II.