Book review: The Cat Bible

catbible3While kittens and cats do not come with owners’ manuals, “The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know” by Tracie Hotchner is the next best thing.

Hotchner, who previously authored “The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know,” is the host of Dog Talk on WLIU (88.3 FM) on Saturday mornings and Cat Chat on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Martha Stewart Living Channel on Wednesday evenings. She dispenses advice in a no-nonsense rapid-fire manner, speaking out against declawing, feeding cats dry food (“kitty crack”) and puppy mills, and advocating for pet insurance.

In The Cat Bible, she confronts the myth that cats are small dogs (which every passionate cat lover knows is not true). She understands their unique personalities and offers tips on how we humans can make the most of our relationships with them.
Starting the with basics, Hotchner takes the reader through the selection process with various checklists, shelter kitty versus purebred, male or female, kitten or cat. Information follows on kitten growth and development as well as a body language primer.

The household safety chapter, including homecoming preparations and tips for dealing with the holidays, home construction, environmental hazards, and weather-related concerns, is straightforward and helpful. She also takes a sensible look at the indoor-outdoor debate, taking into account the personality of the feline and the environment.

An unlimited amount of “stuff” is available for cats and Hotchner covers it all, from basic beds to visual entertainment and everything in between.
Every cat owner wonders if their cat loves them. Along with the body language and behaviors that assure us that they do love us, Hotchner discusses ways to help scaredy cats deal with various stressors. She also points out what cats do under stress. While cats are not thought of as being high-strung creatures, behaviors such as hair-pulling, overgrooming and anorexia may be indicators.

Behavior issues can be frustrating. Various types of aggression and scratching are discussed in detail along with an entire chapter on litter box problems, probably the most frustrating issue a cat owner can experience. Information on understanding behavior issues is scattered throughout the book.

The human-feline bond is complex and fascinating. Hotchner discusses problems that may affect that bond, including allergies and introduction of a baby. Again, she works in behavior issues, such as scratching and night-time naughties, that may have a negative impact.

Last year’s pet food recall spurred a flood of cat owners seeking information on the best food to feed their cats. Hotchner gives a resounding condemnation of dry food and questions many of marketing ploys that accompany specialty foods. She also offers up a list of acceptable canned foods, both high end and grocery store brands. She doesn’t just preach about improving your cat’s diet, she provides tips on transition to a better food, along with helping the reader to understand what’s in cat food and what to avoid.

Since most pet owners just can’t stop at one, Hotcher presents ways to introduce dogs to cats in ways to minimize stress on both species, along with introducing a new cat to the household. Read this sections before you think of adding another pet to your family since they also contain helpful information on understanding inter-cat (and inter-species) behavior.

Medical basics cover the gamut from selecting a veterinarian to obtaining pet insurance, symptoms of illness to watch for to caring for a sick kitty. A detailed discussion of various feline illnesses follows, including types of cancer and treatment options. Hotchner also tackles the sensitive subject of euthanasia, from making the decision to the actual procedure to the process of grieving, along with an ample section on pet loss support. The section is a must-read.

The final chapter is indeed a little of everything else – living with senior kitties, leash training, boarding your cats versus pet sitting, feral cats and lost and found.

Hotchner has indeed done her homework, and readers can be assured the information is right on since the book has the blessing of well-known veterinarian Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, and is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States.

Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or veteran of life with felines, you’ll learn something from this book.
Links to Tracie Hotchner’s radio shows and lots of other information can be found at


About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

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