Sammy's Shelf December 2011: You don't need a book to teach me how to be good!
How To Be A Good Cat (Bloomsbury, ISBN: 9781599904740) by Gail Page is all about a big dog named Bobo who volunteers to look after a kitten called Bonkers. Now this is a very cute kitten (of course, all kittens are cute, aren't they?), but Bonkers has very, very bad manners.
Bonkers gets into the goldfish bowl, unrolls the toilet paper, claws Bobo's favorite chair and scurries up the draperies. What a naughty little kitten. No matter what Bobo does or says, Bonkers just will not behave. Now imagine that!
So what does the frustrated dog do to try to control his unruly house guest? He calls in a big orange cat who arrives with an easel and a large pad of paper with writing on it. The cat then proceeds to teach Bobo some lessons about cats.
Bobo learns that cats are sneaky, chatty, stretchy, very clean and like to climb trees. Well, duh! Everyone should know this, but Bobo apparently doesn't. When the orange cat is finished, Bobo thinks he knows all about cats. Bobo decides he now knows how to relate to Bonkers. So what does this big, goofy dog do? He tries to act like a cat!
Holy catnip, I thought, what kind of nonsense is this? This may make for a cute children's book, but this is not the way to deal with a misbehaving feline. Not at all! As with a human child, it is not a good idea to stoop to the kitten's level to make him behave. No, no, no! That just won't work.
If you wish to encourage proper behavior, you must maintain your dignity. If my person were to do what Bobo did, I certainly would totally ignore him (actually, I usually ignore him anyhow). I remember when I became a member of this household the ground rules were very simple. No scratching furniture, rugs or woodwork. No jumping up on the counters in the kitchen. No digging in the plant containers. Always use the litter box! No going outside.
The litter box wasn't an issue since I had mastered its use before I arrived. If I scratched something I was told, in no uncertain terms, not to do so. Usually, I heard, 'Sammy, stop it!' or someone bellowed 'NO!' Then my person got me a couple of scratching boxes and let me work them over. Being a smart cat, I learned quickly what was acceptable and what wasn't.
The same thing happened with the kitchen counters. Since I don't like heights and don't jump up on tall things anyhow, that wasn't such a big issue. I won't go into the outdoor's off limits rule because I think that one is really STUPID! I pretend I get it and don't attack the door to get out but, now and then, I do sneak out for a breath of fresh air. I don't wander out of my own yard so my person always knows where to look for me if I do manage to escape.
Now, the point of all of this is that once limits were set for me and my person was consistent in enforcing them, I adjusted. The kitten in this picture book will never learn manners or what correct behavior is if he isn't handled properly. Bobo is barking up the wrong tree when he acts like a cat and goes down to Bonker's level! Sammy shares living quarters with Bob Walch. Not only does Bob provide the basic essentials for this loquacious feline but he occasionally offers editorial assistance. Find more of the Maine Coon's musings at CoastTraveler.com.
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