________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 20 . . . . May 29, 2009

cover Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Elizabeth MacLeod.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
64 pp., hardcover, $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-196-7.

Subject Heading:
Cats-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Why do cats purr?

Cats purr when they are happy. They also purr when they are threatened or in pain, perhaps to make themselves feel happier or to show submission.

Doctors know that human bones need stimulation to stay strong. Cats may also purr to stimulate, and so strengthen, their bones.

A cat purrs by vibrating its voice box, or larynx, in its throat. To do this, a muscle in the voice box opens and closes the cat’s air passage about 25 times every second. As the cat breathes in and out, the combined actions create a purring noise.

With the 2006 publication of Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?, MacLeod launched a series of informative animal focussed books that, so far, have included dogs, cats and horses (Why Do Horses Have Manes? 2009). Why Do Cats Have Whiskers? will certainly appeal to cat owners and fans of felines, but it is not a how-to book on the care of your pet. Nonetheless, it does incidentally include some cat-raising/owning advice, such as interpreting what is meant by the positioning and movements of a cat’s tail, or why your cat chooses to head butt or knead you. Much of the book’s engaging content is comprised of MacLeod’s responses to cat-related questions, questions such as “How did cats become pets around the world?” or “Why do cats hate water?” Additionally, the book includes a lot of bite-sized fun trivia and facts, such as the information that cats were once considered gods, a role that our cat still tries to play, or the point that “the most expensive cat ever purchased was a California Spangled cat. It was sold to an anonymous movie star for $24 000!” A chart that “translates” cat ages into human years caused me to realize that our 13-year-old British Shorthair is actually my age peer and will now likely expect to receive the feline equivalent of CPP and OAS. And in the battle between cat and dog people in North America, the cat people win since they own 73 million pet cats while the dog people have just 63 million dogs. Why Do Cats Have Whiskers? is most generously illustrated with coloured photographs of cats, though, unfortunately, the photos are not labelled as to the cats’ breeds.

    Though published as a juvenile title, Why Do Cats Have Whiskers? will appeal to readers of all ages.

    And, if MacLeod is still looking for subjects and titles, she can answer a question I have about another of our pets - “Why do cockatiels hiss?”

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson’s Winnipeg, MB, home is presently populated pet-wise by a cat and two free-flying cockatiels who all exist in remarkable harmony.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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