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Norwich Bulletin - 12/14/2008

Christmas Books

Do you or a family member need some tips and techniques to help you have a better home environment for you and your multiple cats? Are you looking for an inexpensive gift for your Aunt Irene, who has seven cats? Well, Leslie Bistline has written a very informative book called Hairballs in the Morning, which sells for $9.95. It is a practical guide to living with more than one cat (although even households with only one cat can gain some benefit from this book).

When Leslie's husband gave me a copy of the book to read, I was skeptical as to the value of a how to book with only about 50 pages; but as soon as I started reading, I was nodding my head at how much sense her words made. The author has over twenty-five years experience as a Maine Coon breeder and she freely offers her advices and experience in the hope that sharing her knowledge and experience will result in the improvement of the relationship between human to pet.

The book starts out talking about your environment. We all want a home where we can invite people over, even when we have a house that is kept for the pleasure of the cats. A house where people will feel like they are walking into a comfortable home, and be able to rave about the fact that they would never know you had multiple cats in the house. Leslie starts you from the beginning, and gets you through each room of the house, where to start, products that work best, and how to get your cats to get along with each other.

Cleanliness seems to be the word of the day in the book. Explanations of how the priorities should lie, and easy ways to accomplish them. Leslie is able to give the reader hints on how to make individual time for each cat, how to make sure each cat has their own space, and how to take care of those hairball spots on your rugs. And when you are done with the house, you can go to the chapter on how to groom and take care of your cat's cleaning! The best tip for me was how to clip nails when you have a cat who is less than willing to cooperate – but you will have to read the book to find that out!

Her care includes kittens and elderly cats and how to say goodbye. And Leslie understands that it does not matter how many cats that you have or how many times you have lost one of them – the loss is devastating each time we have to say farewell or make the decision to let one of our babies go. I heartily recommend this stocking stuffer. Hairballs in the morning is available on

Also on my Christmas reading list is The Stony Point Whisker Club by author Don Loprieno. A wonderful story about two unlikely companions whose lives are forever entwined. The story of Cato, a red tabby, takes place in a coast town of Maine. Much of the story is told through Cato's eyes, a story which Luprieno feels through his feline friend's presence. It was a very difficult book for him to write, but he tells us that Cato was "looking over my shoulder, so to speak, guiding in his quiet, helpful way, offering a few words of unspoken advice and…nodding his approval on a fairly regular basis."

It's a story how humans came to understand and depend on a little red cat, and how important a family member he became throughout the years. It is a book that will make you angry, it will make you laugh and it will definitely make you cry. My co-worker found me at my desk at our lunch hour, with tears streaming down my face. She laughed at me (but I will get even with her – I bought her the book for Christmas). There is a happy ending of sorts and this book brings about a greater understanding of the bond of trust that often occurs between a human and his animal companion. We will all recognize ourselves in the final chapters of Cato's life – we have all been there.

Don Luprieno lives in Bristol, Maine, with his wife and his two present cats, Clio and Titus. He writes a column for the local newspaper (sounds familiar) and he is a strong advocate for animal rights (that sounds familiar too). He is a former English teacher with a keen interest in history, which caused him to develop interpretive programs for two Revolutionary War historic sites in New York; one of them being the Stony Point Battlefield. His first book was about that battle – this book is totally different and encompasses a different type of battle.

Knowing Cato changed Don Loprieno's outlook on life forever. He no longer believes that a human life takes precedence over any other, and that interactions between people are more important. He once felt that way – but now he knows better. The Stony Point Whisker Club is a must read this Christmas season. It sells for $14.95 and is available through

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