A book review: The Happy Tabby

Recently I was asked to review The Happy Tabby: Develop a Great Relationship with Your Adopted Cat or Kitten by Susan C. Daffron. This is a well-written book on the basics of kitten and cat care, focusing on the special needs of rescued animals. Daffron writes in an extremely friendly and comfortable style that made this book enjoyable to read. However, had I not been approached to do the review, I’m not sure I would’ve pulled this book from the shelf – calling it The Happy Tabby (although logical as explained by Daffron in the book) seems to distance it from its subject of selecting and understanding a (rescued) cat of any sort, not just tabbies.

The book begins by asking some basic questions that anyone who is thinking about getting a cat should consider, starting with whether cats are the right pet for you. Daffron then provides an overview of the different sorts of rescue organizations and shelters so you know what to expect and of what to beware.

Beyond the information for those just getting started with their own cat(s), I think this book is particularly useful for those of us who puzzle over why our cats do certain things – things that obviously make sense in their furry little brains! I’d especially love to ask Susan Daffron what might be going on in May’s furry little brain as she presents herself to be petted, then proceeds to wag and lash her tail throughout the petting session as if she’s the most annoyed cat ever – but she sticks around to be petted…

I also think this book would be helpful for people experiencing feline behavior problems. As Daffron notes regarding changing feline behavior, “The trick is that you have to make them think that the change was their idea the whole time.” It’s also informative about what vaccinations cats usually receive and why, as well as what health issues they may be prone to throughout their lives.

Brief tales of Daffron’s own cats add a pleasant personal touch to the book. Sometimes the asides were directly related to the particular topic or section of the book, but when they weren’t, I spent some time trying to make connections that didn’t seem to be there.

Additionally, the book provides excellent information on how to acclimate your cat to claw trimming, although I would add that only giving your cats treats after claw trimming really changes their attitude toward the whole process. Sometimes Chaos even purrs while I’m trimming his claws. (I know he’s thinking “TreatTreatTreatTreatTreatTreatTreatTreat!”) However, I’m not sure I’ll ever be brave enough to attempt to bathe him, even with the tips in this book! (I mean, look at yesterday’s picture – would you try to bathe that cat?!)

“Those poor unadopted kitties. I’m glad Mom adopted me! Even if she does have lots of unreasonable rules about not napping on the kitchen table and stuff like that.” -Mayhem

31 thoughts on “A book review: The Happy Tabby”

  1. And I’m glad your Mom adopted you too, May! ‘Cause you’re cute and everything. Heh, they can try and understand us, but we’ll never let on that they’ve succeeded!

    OK bye.


  2. Annie purrs when she’s stressed as well as content, but not when I’m clipping her nails — she’s too busy glowering. I’ve only bathed one cat in my life (emergency lamp oil removal procedure), and I swear I’ll never do it again!

  3. I used to bathe babochka all the time, but the boys? ARE YOU KIDDING.

    Hmm. Making Matisse’s grooming his idea…. think the book could help with that? Hahahahaha. He may be furbrained, but he can hold onto that DO NOT WANT.

  4. Chris- Kitten-Chow “found” me- so it was kitty-kismet.

    He too, loves to lie on the table. It’s probably a great vantage point.
    …and Chaos doesn’t need a bath. Black fur hides the dirt.

  5. In our last ditch effort to keep our cats, we bathed them every week. Mine would attempt to escape the sink. Number Guy’s would simply cower over the drain and mewel piteously.

    No, it wasn’t fun for any of us.

  6. Chews does the same thing too — I’ll start petting him and he’ll get this totally pissed off look on his face and start whipping me in the face with his tail, but when I stop, he head butts me.

  7. Hmmm, we can’t even handle claw trimming around here — no way will I attempt bathing them unless the circumstances are extremely dire.

  8. I’ve had cats since I was a cribling! Ruby does a great job of claw trimming herself, she’d better since she seems to groom during her every waking hour. I trim the Rufus claws, he doesn’t like it, I get the “oh Mom” heavy sighs, but he does ok.

  9. I’ve had several cats who did the tail-whipping thing while they were being petted — I never thought it was odd! And Harley purrs when she’s stressed, too (someone else mentioned that). I did some research, and they think they purr when stressed to comfort themselves — it reminds them of their mother’s purring.

  10. Having had to bathe a cat, I hope you never have to bathe Chaos. I can’t imagine any promise of treats working there.

    I used to cat-sit for my PhD mentor’s cats. Once I was told I would have to give the male antibiotic pills, and I nearly panicked. But the cat knew if it ate the pill out of my hand it would get some cooked ground sirloin. It was amazing.

  11. Nice you were asked to review the book πŸ™‚ And yes it was a wonderful thing when you adopted May from the shelter to come make a matched set πŸ˜‰ hehe

    Bathing cats isn’t that bad. Clip their claws first. Have a BIG tub, and a door on the bathroom that is SHUT. Having a second person to direct the water while you hold the cat down is probably best. Still, I wouldn’t bathe Pogo again unless she got into something really nasty, … just like last time!

  12. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for reviewing the book! To answer your question, the tail whapping thing actually is a signal of being “in conflict.”

    So May is probably enjoying the petting, but not sure it’s a good idea for some reason. It could be because a lot of cats actually get overstimulated if they are petted for too long. So she might be thinking “wow, this is good” but then “wait, I might be getting so agitated that I might do something bad.” As many cat owners know, some cats bite if you pet them too long. Just a couple of thoughts.

    And I agree re: bathing. With some cats there are NO good answers. One of the points I make in the book is that cats (like humans) are individuals. Not every human can — or should — bathe every cat. Know thy limitations and the limitations of thy cat πŸ˜‰

    – Susan Daffron (author of Happy Tabby)

  13. We used to call Charlie the Crabby Tabby when he would get cranky and hiss at Tim. The nice side effects of prednisone.

    He did pretty well with baths. Once as a young cat he got into the filthy attic of our apartment and we had to put him in the tub to clean those white paws and belly (the gray stripes on his back hid the dust). The key is to put water in the tub (or sink) before you catch the cat, so the running water doesn’t scare them. We only filled the tub a few inches, so he was well above the water level, and used a cup to wet his fur down. I stayed away from the head entirely since he could do that by himself. We used human shampoo, but I’ve since learned that the pet shampoo has different ph and is better for their fur and skin. We also had to bathe him once or twice later in his life when he got sick, um, in his litter box.

    Sometimes you can’t avoid the bathing, but if you’re gentle with them and keep the scary noises to a minimum, I think they forgive you afterwards. πŸ™‚ Some people have even dried their cats with the hairdryer, but if I tried that, my cats would put me in intensive care. I know my limits, LOL.

  14. Okay, these comments are totally cracking me up πŸ˜‰

    We often call Troi (the cover model for the book) the Flabby Tabby. And our other cat Alia, who is 13, is often referred to as the Crabby Tabby. It’s nice to know it’s not just me!

    – Susan Daffron (author of Happy Tabby)

  15. I’ve only tried to bathe a cat once. It would have to be an emergency before I would try it again. Even nail clipping is a struggle. Katie often does the nail whipping thing when I pet her. A veterinarian I used to have often commented on how much more complex cats are compared to dogs.

  16. I was under the impression that the whole tail up and wiggling and butt wagging and shaking thing was ALL about getting some action, cats are such shameless hussies, and May’s right in there with the pack of ’em. Have you ever seen a cat in heat? They stick their butt right up, just like you describe. And the harder you scratch, the better they like it. Ugh!

  17. I must admit that the title gave me pawsÒ€”er, pause. Your “adopted” cat? What, like there is anything else? Like we squeeze them out of our own bodies. Sorry. It’s late. My mind, you know… LOL! But it does sound like a worthwhile read.

  18. My darling coal black starlet, how true about those terrible rules. Please, please, join me some day for a leisurely nap at my place. I have, for your enjoyment, a double ceramic sink which mom preheats for me every morning at 6:30 am by “doing the dishes”. After which she dries it out and I curl up on one side in my nice hot sink and watch the birds out the window. The other side is so lonely, won’t you join me? Say you will? There are many fun little objects on the windowsill to knock off as well.

    Yours most affectionately,

    P.S. When you purr and stick your nose in the drain it sounds really cool and echoey

  19. I agree – tail straight up, butt wiggling is a hussy thing! (That didn’t seem like what Chris was describing, but maybe I misread it.)

    Wine after trimming kitty claws sounds like a fine idea! Humans need a little positive reinforcement too πŸ˜‰

    – Susan Daffron

  20. Ò€œThe trick is that you have to make them think that the change was their idea the whole time.Ò€
    – Heck that works with guys as well!

  21. Wow – the cat on the cover of that book reminds me of Nutmeg, including the apparent vague glare she’s giving us. The Nut looks cranky but she isn’t – she’s got a fab nature even for a dumped puss.

  22. Actually Troi (the cover model who also happens to be my cat) doesn’t have a particularly grumpy face in general. She was probably falling asleep πŸ˜‰

    My other cat, Alia *always* looks grumpy though. She’s not really; she just looks that way.

    – Susan Daffron

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