David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Mon 21 Jan 08 07:07
We're delighted to welcome Arden Moore to the Inkwell to discuss "Planet Cat". Arden has this to say about herself: "Hey feline fans! I'm Arden Moore, author of 17 pet books, including the latest, "Planet Cat." It's been called "the ultimate bathroom reading book for cat lovers." Nice. I'm also the editor of Catnip, managing editor of Fido Friendly magazines and host a show on Pet Life Radio.com called "Oh Behave!" I share my home with two dogs and two cats and enjoy people, too. So, let's get catty!" Joining Arden is Angie Coiro. Angie is an award-winning radio journalist and interviewer whose subjects have included Mike Wallace, Richard Clarke, and Martin Short. Salman Rushdie provided two of Angie's career high-points: first, her radio interview with him won the national Public Radio News Directors accolade as the best on local public radio that year. Second - and perhaps more notably -- he briefly pogo-danced in her studio following the broadcast. Over the next few weeks, she's interviewing Marianne Pearl and Ishmael Beah live on stage, as well as co-curating a selection of pre-code films, at Montalvo Arts in Saratoga. Welcome, both of you!
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Mon 21 Jan 08 07:37
Looking forward to sharing insights into the fascinating - and frustration - world of felines. Planet Cat is a book co-written with Sandy and Harry Choron that contains more than 400 lists and tips and trivia about cats. We cover history, myths and even name the 5 cats who appeared on The Simpsons. The template of Planet Cat is addictive. Sales are soaring. If you're not into cats, no worries. We can also discuss how this "planet" book concept succeeds. Other titles include Planet Dog and soon, Planet Wedding. So, hope to hear from all of you and thanks for this opportunity.
Angie (coiro) Mon 21 Jan 08 10:09
Hey there, Arden! Congrats on a fun (and fun to look at!) book. Since you bring up your co-authors and the Planet template, let's start with those. Are you and the Chorons all cat people? Or were you the designated Cat Person, while they brought in graphics and other skills? For those who haven't seen the book yet, graphics and art design figure hugely into the picture. Every page is colorful and distinctive; you can open to any page for a cheerful blast of images, colors, fonts, and feline facts. Did that template already exist when you came into the picture, Arden, or was it an established standard that you had to work within? In fact, let's go back before that point, while we're at it. Books of lists have been around for some time - some best-sellers, some quickly remaindered. When did the idea blossom to bring the world of cats together with the world of lists?
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Mon 21 Jan 08 11:07
Me-WOW! Great questions, Angie! Here's a little background into the making of "Planet Cat." My co-authors, Sandy and Harry Choron, readily confess that their home is ruled by a tabby named Elvis. The Chorons are talented editors, book packagers and literary agents, but enlisted me to join them in this book because of my knowledge of all things c-a-t. I'm editor of Catnip, a silly-sounding, but serious national monthly publication produced in affiliation with the esteemed faculty at Tufts University's Vet School. Think of it as "Consumer Reports for Cat Enthusiasts" because we strive to offer the latest in feline medicine, behavior and health - and all articles are reviewed by the Tufts advisory board prior to publication. Secondly, I confess. I love felines. There has been a cat or two in my life since age 10. The first was Corky, a Siamese who loved to swim in our backyard with our two dogs. Third, I am an animal behavior consultant who addresses cat (and dog) questions throughout North America. Just returned from a six-week national book tour that took me from Maine to California. Fourth, I just completed pet books #18 and #19 since 1999 - these books, called Happy Cat, Happy You AND Happy Dog, Happy You are coming out later in 2008. (Storey Books) The Chorons are the true talents when it comes to the artsy, crafty design of our book. They handled that task and the three of us shared in producing the content. You're right - books of lists have been around eons - probably starting with Moses and his "top 10 list" of commandments. :) But what makes Planet Cat a top seller I believe is that we made the book fun looking and fascinating to read. There are a lot of "Hey Mabels" in the 400--plus pages that readers can pass on to other friends of felines. One of my favorites: 17 cool uses for cat litter (p. 316).
Angie (coiro) Mon 21 Jan 08 22:51
Well, you guys clearly had a lot more fun than Moses did. Lists of Very Wealthy Cats; Strange Bedfellows, including a momcat who took in a mouse; cats in the movies; and 19 Ways to Bond with the Furball. The topics range from the silly and obscure to the very practical. I'm trying to visualize the brainstorming sessions that led to the "list of lists", if you will. The decisions as to what might make a good list, what went in, what got edited out. Can you give us a glimpse of the creative process? And - you can let your hair down here - which of your own brainstorms were you particularly pleased with? What got left on the cutting room floor that was tough for you to leave behind?
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Wed 23 Jan 08 00:28
Our brainstorming sessions were coast to coast. The Chorons live in New Jersey and I reside in San Diego County. We did a lot of "wish list" discussions by email and by phone. Fortunately, the Chorons are not early risers, so our three-hour time difference was not a big deal. We ended up juggling and tweaking what goes where as we built up steam. What is strange but cool was that I didn't meet them in person until AFTER the book was done. We met at a sushi restaurant in NYC when I was signing another book at the Book Expo of America. What got cut from the book - that did take a lot of my time - was more indepth profiles on the 41 top cat breeds. For space reason, we had to condense each breed profile considerably. In the end, it was a good call because our book features lots of ins and outs on all things cat.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 23 Jan 08 09:05
(NOTE: Offsite readers with questions or comments may have them added to this thread by emailing <firstname.lastname@example.org> -- please be sure to include "Planet Cat" in the subject line. Thanks! )
Angie (coiro) Wed 23 Jan 08 10:08
Hey, granted the range of topics in the book, that's not bad, losing just the one thing - and not even in its entirety, just a trim. Can you talk about the more personal stories in the book? It's one thing to research breeds; it's another to learn about "shop cats" or "retail cats" from everywhere. How did you go about gathering those? And how did you make the editorial choice between silly, fun, interesting trivia, and practical hands-on advice? They seem about evenly divided.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Wed 23 Jan 08 11:56
Hello ... I share my house with two middle-aged cats, Emily and Moon, along with husband and kids. They are brother and sister, 10 years old this year, and keep fit by chasing one another around the house. What's interesting: Emily looks like a basic domestic shorthair tabby, but Moon shows many characteristics of Maine Coon. He has ear tufts, shaggy black fur, an enormous fluffy tail, a big square head, and unbelievable sweetness. I loved your description of the Maine Coon as the "feline greeter of the world." That's exactly what he does! He sits at the window and waits for us to come home. He also likes to get in the shower after it's been used by a human, and let the water drip on his head. Their mom is a black DSH, father unknown, and their brother Brian has Emily's tabby coloring and Moon's Maine Coon physical features and complete lack of guile. (His owner says, "Every day is a brand-new day for Brian.") How did Emily manage to avoid any Maine Coon features at all?
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Wed 23 Jan 08 15:23
Hey Lisa - great question! This is one that perplexes many cat affectionadoes. Well, here's the "dirty little secret" among feline Romeos: a momma cat can be impregnated by more than one male suitor. That explains why a litter of kittens can look like a bunch of strangers, not siblings. Moon and Emily's momma must have been quite a looker, but she obviously was courted by more than one Mr. Cat. Thanks for dropping in to The Well -- this safe version and be sure to tell your catty friends to join in the fun.
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Wed 23 Jan 08 15:27
Note to Angie, my "co-pilot" on this feline flight: Remember in school where you seemed to learn best from teachers who evoked a little fun in the lectures? I can still quote from Othello thanks to my high school teacher, Mr. Gordon, who honored his promise to do cartwheels in class if we all scored a B or higher on a test. As for my co-horts in Planet Cat, we also wanted our readers to paw through the pages and be delighted - and intrigued by what we discovered. As a pet expert and animal behavior consultant, I am constantly hanging out with top veterinarians and behaviorists and pet lovers and learning something new every day about our fascinating felines. Planet Cat gave me the opportunity to "download" my cat stats and facts to others.
Eric Gower (gower) Wed 23 Jan 08 15:39
Hi Arden, welcome to the Well! We also have two cats, a black female named Minna who's 9, and Quincy, a Siamese mutt male, 3. Quincy relentlessly chases Minna around the house, to lots of hissing and snarling and growling. Minna looks as if she's about to have a nervous breakdown! We try to separate them as best we can, but it's a losing battle. Quincy happens to be incredibly loving and sweet, save this particular nasty trait. Is there anything at all we can do to get him to stop?
Idea Hamster On Speed (randomize27) Wed 23 Jan 08 18:09
I love this book, and am on my second read. Very informative and educational, especially some of the historical lists. I regret that there's not more information on my favorite breed - Bombay. But, my question is, how did you find out all those historical figures were cat people? And I currently live with an albino and a grey domestic shorthair. (The albino is white, blue eyes, and NOT deaf.)
Angie (coiro) Wed 23 Jan 08 22:08
I'll take a back seat while you tackle these questions, Arden. Just piping in to express empathy with Eric. We had a bad case of that here in our house; sounds much more extreme than what you're dealing with. New Mr. Alpha Cat chased my two established passive babies right out of the house. They stayed out for three whole days, and he'd rush the door any time they tried to return. We rehomed the little bugger.
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Thu 24 Jan 08 17:23
Advice to Eric and all others on THE WELL who may live with a cat who isn't always swell. Fortunately, there are things you can do with a hiss-and-swat cat like Quincy and restore confidence in Minna. Ask your vet about a product called Feliway- it contains feline facial phermones - a cat's version of OTC prozac. It plugs into an outlet like an air freshener and it helps chill out wired cats. In extreme situations, feisty felines have been helped by being temporarily put on kitty doses of Prozac - again work with your vet. If possible, book some time for Minna to have a calm room to eat, catnap and get some one-on-one attention from you. Cats love routines. Even if it is only for a short duration, it goes a long way. Also, if Quincy likes to chase and pounce things, invest in some toys like feather wands and remote controlled toy mice for him to pounce and stalk - a diversion from poor Minna. Yes, I'm on The Well for Planet Cat, but I recommend you buy my book, The Cat Behavior Answer BOok (Storey Books, 2007), which has been named the top cat training and behavior book in 2007. I go into greater detail. Or, pop by my website: www.ardenmoore.com. Good luck!
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Thu 24 Jan 08 17:27
Paws up to randomize27 who is reading Planet Cat a second go-around: Thanks! That means a lot. We want to get the word out on this book to all cat fans - thanks for taking the time to write. Wow - blue eyed and white coat and not deaf - not that's beating the odds. As for the selection of the cat breeds, we picked those recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association, the world's largest breed organization. Maybe we can spotlight the amazing BOmbay in say, Planet Cat - The Sequel. My co-authors, Sandy and Harry Choron, and I have only scratched "the post" of all things cat. We found out about these famous love-or-hate cat people by digging through various cat web sites, resource books and chatting with some historians.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Thu 24 Jan 08 18:21
Emily and Moon chase each other around and beat each other up. Then they wander up to my daughter's top bunk and fall asleep in a heap. Typical sibling behavior. There was an epidemic of cat books about 15 years ago, about the time that pet demographics showed that more people in America lived with cats than dogs. Then dogs re-asserted themselves, and it seems as if anything with a dog angle gets ink these days. So it's nice to see a cat title get some attention.
streaming irreverent commentary (pauli) Thu 24 Jan 08 18:25
This has been a hectic week and I'm finally getting a chance to jump into the conversation. I had a wonderful time reading this book. I love the description of it as "the ultimate bathroom reading book for cat lovers." Makes for good bedtime reading as well. Would be even better if I had a cat on my lap but I'm catless right now for the first time since my first couple of years in college (don't want to say how many years ago that was). But I hope to have some new kitties in my life pretty soon. I was curious to see whether you would have this in your discussion of foods for cats but cantaloupe (known as kittenaloupe around my house) has been a favorite of several of my cats, who have also been known to enjoy corn, cucumbers, snow peas, broccoli, and miscellaneous other vegetables. And grass is definitely an important part of any kitty diet. A couple of folks have asked about your research on such things as shop cats and the cats of historical figures. There is certainly a prodigious amount of research represented in the book. I wonder if you can tell us about some of the more difficult research that you did. And a bit more about how you and your co-authors decided what to include. I think it was a wise decision not to spend more time providing info about breeds. There are plenty of books out there that do that. As someone who is not that interested in purebred cats that doesn't interest me nearly as much as many of the other things you did include. Thanks for such a fun read.
Tony Vant Leven (randomize27) Thu 24 Jan 08 18:31
Idea Hamster On Speed (randomize27) Thu 24 Jan 08 18:32
Well, it's very entertaining and well written. I also LOVE the Cheshire Cat quote on page 159, and am thinking about having it made into a poster for the living room. And, on page 158, #46 had me laughing until it hurt. But, in all honesty, I can open this book to any page, and there's a 90% chance there's something there to make me laugh or think. But, several of the internet links don't work - I've typed them in very carefully, and get a 404.
Angie (coiro) Thu 24 Jan 08 18:32
I'm going to piggyback onto <pauli>'s first question, and ask about the ever-changing advice about what to feed your cat. Putting aside special-needs kitties, why do you imagine is there constant flux in what's best to feed an average, healthy cat? My neighbor is very into the raw-chicken-only diet, which I've read about elsewhere. A book I read years back by a "cat psychologist" from England advised people food - meats, veggies, starches. My own vet says canned food is unnecessary, and a good-quality dry food is a complete diet. A few years back, Consumer Reports said high-end cat foods sold only at the vet's office are no better than Purina Cat Chow. Your thoughts?
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Fri 25 Jan 08 08:19
For far too long, cats have had the rap of being finicky eaters. The true is that some can be real chowhounds and look more like hairy ottomans. As editor of Catnip and the author of several books that contain recipes approved by top veterinary nutritionists, I can share with you that the nutritional spotlight is finally being shined on cats. There is a greater push among pet food manufacturers to produce quality food that best meets the feline physiology. Cats are carnivores; dogs are omnivores. In plain English, cats need meat, especially foods containing an amino acid called taurine. Look for it on your food labels. Dogs are more like us in that they fare best with meats and veggies. There are some "people" food - like green beans and even cantaloupe (or "kittenaloupe" as Pauli cleverly describes) that some cats go ga-ga for as treats. Let me recommend a great web site: www.petdiets.com. It is run by a top veterinary nutritionist who analyzes and answers questions on feline nutrition. Another good site is called www.balanceit.com. Again, operated by a top vet nutritionist. Parting comments on food: read the label before buying. The first ingredient must be a real meat - like fish, beef, chicken and not meat byproducts or grains like corn or wheat. Investing in good chow for your cat reaps dividends for the both of you. Your cat has a better chance of enjoying a longer, healthier life and you can stave off some big vet bills triggered by poor nutrition. Whew! All these talk on food is making my stomach purr. Need to dash off to consume some people chow!
(martyb) Fri 25 Jan 08 09:09
as a dog person with no cats (because of husband being allergic), I'd point out that whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores is a matter of definition. In some senses of the word, dogs are clearly carnivores. Dogs do not actually require any plant materials or carbohydrates in their diets. To call dogs 'omnivores' in the raw or homecooking dog lists I'm familiar with is a sure trigger for an argument. But that's not a topic for this discussion, and there is no argument that cats are obligate carnivores.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Fri 25 Jan 08 10:04
What do you think about supplementation, Arden?
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Fri 25 Jan 08 16:50
Looks like our discussion is shifting a bit to food. Please note that I wrote, Real Food for Dogs, with Rebecca Remillard, DVM, president of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutritionists. In addition, as editor of Catnip and managing editor of Fido Friendly, I spend a lot of time focusing on nutrition and talk with top nutritionists. I don't want to engage in a difference of definitions with Martyb, but dogs are obligate omnivores and cats are carnivores. As for Lisa's question about supplements - good one! If you opt to feed raw food diets, homemade meals, etc. you do need to work closely with your veterinarian to select supplements that best meet your pet's age, actvity level, health condition - and in some cases, breed.
Idea Hamster On Speed (randomize27) Fri 25 Jan 08 17:01
Also, I can't get some of the websites listed to work, no matter what I do. Could you list them, or the corrected ones, here?
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