Review: Ingrid King does it again!


Ingrid King has a new book! Ingrid, of the award-winning Conscious Cats website, is also author of Purrs of Wisdom (which we reviewed here last year) and Buckley’s Story. Recently, she announced she will be the new cat expert on Answers.com.

kingvetcoverShe knows cats, and we’re sure that if we met her, we’d be purring around her ankles in no time.

But when we heard the title of this book, we flattened our ears a bit: Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Hospitals Taught Me About Life, Love and Myself.

We like to read, but we’re not into Stephen King or anything else scary.

Never fear, though. Ingrid has done it again. In fact, we feel a lot better about the whole idea of vets because of the insights she brings from her years as a volunteer and then a manager at vet clinics. She takes us behind the scenes, into the drama of life and death, to show how loving and caring people, and pets, can be.

In this book, Ingrid tells the individual stories of memorable cats and dogs, as well as the fine veterinarians she has known. But the real story is about her journey from an unfulfilling day job to, as she puts it in the book’s introduction, bliss.

And what is bliss? Knowing that your work matters. That’s a story most everyone can relate to, since we all need to believe our lives make a difference in the world.

For Ingrid, that bliss started with animals – caring for them, earning their trust, learning about them and learning from them.

Finding her own path and then actually being able to follow it didn’t happen overnight for her, though, which is why the book is inspiring. Her journey was long and sometimes was an uphill climb, but she persisted. The result is that she can reach millions of people now who might benefit from her knowledge and compassion. Now that’s making a difference.

We have only one complaint with this book. It’s too short! But, as we suspect Ingrid would be the first to say, the biggest impact on our hearts can come from the smallest things. A cat or a dog, say. Or a gesture from a considerate person who takes an interest in our lives.

Ingrid King has a big heart. If you haven’t read her other books or visited her website, Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Hospitals Taught Me About Life, Love and Myself is a great introduction to her. If you have, this book will bring you closer.

Four paws – 4paws – but only because we wanted more!

“Adventures in Veterinary Medicine: What Working in Veterinary Hospitals Taught Me About Life, Love and Myself” is available from Amazon.

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Review: ‘Furry Paw, Middle Claw’ tells serious, thoughtful story


It’s easy to tell when a book has been written from the heart — it’s got a genuine quality that shines from every page.

Barry Jackson cover art

‘Furry Paw, Middle Claw,’
Hardcover; $24.99; 217 Pages

“Furry Paw, Third Claw,” by Barry Jackson, is just such a book. Though it is a novel, it draws heavily on Jackson’s life and the many cats that, willingly or not, he came to know and share his home with.

Told from the human point of view, the cats nonetheless dominate the narrative. Like many men, when Dean Parker meets Melissa, the love of his life, his choice was to accept her, cats and all, or face life without her. He grudgingly accepts the two cats into his home, secretly hoping he can somehow get rid of them or — a hope even more vain — change Melissa.

He uses lots of humor to tell of his secret battle with the cats to be the dominate animal in his own home, but it is the humor of hindsight. This is a serious story, involving quite a bit of loss and heartache.

The novel really is about Parker’s journey out of a lonely childhood darkened by the knowledge his mother didn’t want him to an adulthood in which he learns to be a loving family man with a deeper understanding of himself and the cosmos. Along the way, nearly a dozen cats come in and out of his life — each with lessons to impart.

These lessons aren’t easy, nor are they conveyed with a sweet purr and a cuddly demeanor. We can’t imagine many men putting up with the spraying, shedding, smelly litter boxes, yowling, clawing and generally untamed behavior that Parker endures. Melissa is a rescuer, quick to adopt street cats, feral kittens and felines with serious wounds or illnesses. At one point, Parker calculates that over the course of their marriage, he and Melissa have spent $121,000 caring for their cats. (And there would be still more to come!)

And it’s not long before four cats at a time becomes the norm in their household. Parker eventually begins to appreciate their better qualities — and love Melissa all the more for her generous heart. The real turning point for him comes, though, when their son Craig is diagnosed with autism and one cat in particular, Dash, becomes the boy’s friend, companion and pathway into the wider world.

Looking back on his life toward the end of the novel, Parker comments,

“I believe it was my destiny to live my adult life with Melissa, Craig, and the cats. Cats came into my life in the same way I found Melissa and Theo [a friend], by chance or by fate. They recognized my moods and helped me just by being there with their love that knew no limits. However, life with the kitties was not always roses: hairballs in shoes, sinks used as litter pans, a dead vole brought to my pillow, birds carted into the house to be shredded beyond recognition, and tens of thousands of dollars of vet bills. It was always easy to forgive the cats for their transgressions because they were innocent. Forgiving people was not as easy.”

The title of the novel, “Furry Paw, Middle Claw” means just what you think it might. This is a realistic book; Jackson doesn’t make any attempt in the novel to get inside his cats’ heads or sentimentalize them. He describes their behaviors, good and bad, and their effects on Dean Parker and his family. Parker’s transformation into cat lover is gradual, therefore believable, and never quite total — just like Parker’s coming to terms with his emotionally abusive childhood and the place he makes for himself in the world.

Jackson, a CPA who has served a chief operating officer of several New York City law firms (according to his officials biography), live in New Jersey with his wife and four cats. This is his first novel. While his writing in spots shows the greenness of a new author, the novel is very readable and rewarding.

“Furry Paw, Middle Claw,” published June 1, is available for Kindle and in hardback from Amazon or the publisher at www.turnthepagepublishing.com (ISBN: 978-1-938501-10-4).

We give this book four paws!
4paws

Making work look like play


People like to think cats lead lives of total luxury, but that’s not strictly true. We spend a lot of time protecting our homes from strangers — we’re the first to sound the alarm, whether it’s that pesky chipmunk taking all the birdseed from the feeder again or a neighbor kid at the door wanting to sell popcorn.

And do we have to get into the need for vigilance when it comes to bugs? We can see things people can’t see, as evidenced by the number of times we’ll both be staring up at the wall, only to have some person keep asking, “What do they see? I don’t see anything!”

It’s maddening. It is right there — why don’t you come do something about it?

But these are noble pursuits, bred in the bone. All cats are hunters and warriors, whether their domain is the vast savannah or a cosy condo.

Mischief flattens a cardboard box so it will fit in the recycling bin.

Because we like our person, Decca, so much, we also try to help her around the house whenever we can. We realize that may shock some of our readers. Cats were worshipped in the ancient world, after all, and as Siamese, we mustn’t forget we’re descended from royalty. With royal privilege comes royal obligation, though, and it wouldn’t do to lose touch with the common world. We know our history. Look what happened to the Bourbons and the Romanovs.

Trouble cleans the bathtub.

To accomplish both goals, we’ve discovered a nifty trick that you, dear feline reader, could try at home. You get a good workout — and sometimes even treats — while preserving your dignity as well. Make the work look like play!

Trouble arranges flowers for the dinner table.

For example, when Decca gets that big, noisy vacuum cleaner out (which is far too seldom, we have to say), our job is to protect her from that snake-like cord. It’s apt to catch on chairs and wind itself around her ankles like an anaconda. So, by pretending we are chasing it, we keep the cord as much out of her way as we can. We also point out areas on the carpet needing extra attention by running in front of the machine.

As you can see from the accompanying photos, we’ve found many other ways to help with the housework. This past week was particularly busy, since we had house guests. That involves so much preparation — from hunting down and capturing fluffy clumps of hair under the furniture (Trouble says he’s a shorthair, but he’s suspiciously fluffy) to making the rooms attractive and planning menus (Mischief takes keen interest in the culinary arts).

Mischief consults on the dinner menu.

So what about you, dear readers? Are there aspects of domestic science that you especially enjoy? Tell us about it, and if you send our Decca a photo (at deccaprice@gmail.com), we’ll post it next week and give you a shoutout on Twitter.

(If you’d have a website and would like to be considered for a link here at DeccaCats, email her about that, too.)

Housework can be exhausting.

We love this book!


Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Hudson Talbott knows his audience. He knows cats.

“It’s All About Me-Ow – A Young Cat’s Guide to the Good Life” ” by Hudson Talbott (Nancy Paulsen Books 2012; ISBN 978-0-399-25403-1; $16.99 USA/$18.00 Canada. Hardcover)

With a title like “It’s All About Me-Ow,” how could we resist his new book? Clearly, this book is a serious scholarly tome aimed at bridging the feline-human communications divide. With lots of fun pictures! All are very colorful and full of detail.

We think he must have been a cat in another life. His narrator, Buddy, welcomes three kittens into his home and teaches them how to wrap their new human family around their little paws. They learn about why cats are superior to people, the value of “purr therapy” to a busy family, how to get the most fun out of the furniture, how to train a human and lots more.

Our favorite parts, though, were the history of the cat and the cat family tree (and not just because he put a Siamese cat in that picture!) We could spend hours looking at those pages.

Mischief has a question about cats in ancient Egypt.

The best thing about this book, though, is that it gave us lots to talk about. Where did the kittens come from? What are their names? Is this their forever home or are these really, really nice people who foster homeless kitties? What is Buddy’s story and why is he so welcoming to these adorable competitors for food and laps? What happens next??

Trouble wants to know more.

We will be waiting eagerly for Mr. Talbott to write a sequel that answers these questions. If Hollywood calls, there’s opportunity for a prequel as well.

In the meantime, though, it’s fun to let our imaginations run wild! That’s the best kind of book.

The only thing we don’t like about this book? It gives away too many feline secrets. Cats, we need to keep our people guessing! We’ll be keeping an eye out for you, Hudson Talbott.

We give this book our highest rating: 5 Paws!