Stephen Baker’s How to Live with a Neurotic Cat is a humorous take on cat rearing that is basically fun to read and highly relatable to cat owners anywhere in the world.
If anyone is seeking actual advice on handling his cat, however, this is not the book to do it. Baker tackles a variety of topics about the cat’s eating (they always want to eat), playing (they think everything is a plaything), sleeping (they generally want to sleep with their owners or cuddle up on their owners’ laps) and the cat’s general rejection of authority but the only piece of advice that he really gives is just bear with it. Nobody really owns their cat. Humans have it all wrong, they are never really in control. This book actually reinforces an article that I read once about a cat getting its way simply by manipulating the pitches of its meow.
To its credit, the book explains the general anatomy and mental abilities of a cat and how it manages to be always one step ahead of its owner. The illustrations that support the author’s theories add to the LOL factor of this book of compiled observations about man’s dealings with his feline companion. It also compares cats with dogs and explains the fruitlessness of man’s attempts to domesticate their house cats.
The reason this book is so funny is that most of it is true, although I have serious doubts about Baker’s claim that cats can open cookie jars without breaking it. The general tone of the book is one of resignation which gives voice to the exasperation of cat owners when their cats ignore the general rules of master/pet relationships. Seriously, after reading the book, one would think that cats are really good for nothing and are actually more trouble than they’re worth. My only critique of the entire thing is that Baker failed to mention the benefits of owning a cat (although they are few) — the real reason that owners put up with all of their pets’ airs. I for one, have 12 cats at home so I should know.
So, in defense of my pets, here are some of my favorite things about my cats:
1.They are adorable and low maintenance.
2. They always know when I’m arriving and rush out of the gate to welcome me home.
3. They are sweet and curl up on my lap as soon as I hit the lounge chair (sometimes two at a time) and then promptly use me as a pillow to fall asleep.
4. Watching them play relaxes me and make me laugh out loud every time.
5. They know where I am (most of the time — They only mew and scratch at the window when they know its me behind it)
The most annoying things about my pets, on the other hand:
1. They are demanding and meow non stop for me to rush and feed them, scratch them and pet them when they want it (which is every minute).
2. They are stubborn and never obey commands, even when I yell.
Baker is also the author of How to Live with a Neurotic Dog, which should be an interesting read since canines are decidedly less neurotic than cats.
All in all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who owns a cat for the great entertainment value it provides. I finished the entire book in less than an hour, and I was smiling the entire time.