Friday, March 15, 2013

The Cat Whisperer by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

book cover
The Cat Whisperer
by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

ISBN-13: 9780553807851
Hardcover: 254 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Released: March 5, 2013

Source: eBook Advanced Reader Copy review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Cat behaviorist Mieshelle Nagelschneider provides practical and effective strategies for solving feline behavior problems, from litter box issues to scratching, spraying, biting, and beyond. Central to her approach is an understanding of the unique way cats see the world--their need for safety and security, their acute territoriality, and their desire to catch and kill prey.

Her proven C.A.T. cat behavior modification plan is a commonsense course of action that can be specifically tailored to your cat in the context of its behavior problems and its particular household environment. You’ll discover how to harness the power of “friendly pheromones," how to create a litter box environment that will solve many problems, and how to end aggression in multiple-cat households.

My Review:
The Cat Whisperer is a reference book on solving a variety of common cat behavioral problems. While the instructions were easy enough to understand, I was surprised by how long it took me to completely read through this 254 page book.

The first 68 pages were mostly the author's credentials (why you should believe that she knows what she's talking about), talking about what she thinks is wrong with the system, and speculation about the motives and minds of cats. She places the blame for cat behavioral problems on humans and talked like cat owners are largely abusive toward their cats. I suspect she'd get faster cooperation from humans if she didn't talk so negatively about them.

She did make a few good points in this first section, though: cats are cats, not dogs, not humans. Cats don't act out of a desire for revenge. Getting angry or hitting them isn't generally going to help and will probably make things worse. Simply removing your attention or presence is far more effective.

Unless you're set on reading the whole book, I'd suggest jumping to chapter 2's "Elements of an Effective C.A.T. plan" and then to chapter 3's "Taming the Wild" and continuing from there. The author became more organized and used a more practical and instructional tone at that point. You can also jump directly to the chapter that talks about the problems you're having. The solutions that she suggests are sometimes quite complicated, other times relatively quick and simple. If you're having a problem, her suggestions would probably be good ones to try.

Of her suggestions, though, I would never try to reduce the confidence of a "confident," bully cat. I doubt the cat is actually confident. I've fixed this problem by building up all of my cat's confidence--in my cats' case, confidence that my attention is not a limited resource. I also made different locations my "focused attention" spots for different cats so they all got attention in places that felt safe to them. They're now relaxed and willing to share me in all locations, though they reserve first rights in their special spots.

Anyway, overall I thought that her advice would be helpful. She covered what types of medical problems might cause various behavioral problems, described a case with the problem, what might be causes of the problem, conventional advice NOT to follow, and how to change the cat's behavior using a C.A.T. format: Cease unwanted behavior, Attract to a wanted behavior or location, and Transform the territory.

The main cat problems and techniques that she covered were: introducing new cats or reintroducing known cats in a way that ensures friendly relations afterward; using friendly pheromones; creating enough territory and resources to reduce conflict over resources (which is a cause of many problems); properly playing with your cat using a prey sequence; cat aggression toward people or other pets; pooping or peeing outside of the litterbox; marking with urine or poop; excessive meowing; destructive scratching of items--no need to "declaw!", unwanted jumping up on counters or tables, overgrooming, wool sucking and chewing, and clicker training basics for cats.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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