BOOK REVIEW: If You Were a Cat

If You Were a Cat (First Facts (Simon & Schuster))

If You Were a Cat imagines a feline speaking directly to young readers, relating her habits, activities, and daily life. That’s the good part.

It’s the numerous other problematic attitudes on display that persuade me against recommending this book. Published in 1989, Cat is full of outdated values regarding pets; many of which today’s readers would regard as irresponsible ownership.

The story focuses upon an unspayed , roaming cat. Early on, an illustration shows a cat venturing out into a suburban backyard along with the line, “At night, I go out and explore!” It gets worse from there.

A few pages later we see the result of all of that unsupervised roaming: the cat nursing a litter of four along with the line, “I am a mother cat too.” A few pages later, the kittens are shown being given away.

At the end of the story, with all of her kittens gone, the cat announces she’s “ready to go exploring again,” and is once again outdoors. Sigh. And the cycle begins anew.

For adults, books such as Cat are interesting from a historical point of view; they show prevalent attitudes of the past which no doubt contributed to the 1980s shelter euthanasia rates being more than double what they are in 2011. However, the intended audience won’t be able to put the material into context.

(Review originally appeared at goodreads.com)

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