Sunday, September 6, 2015

How to Train your Cat to Promote your Book

How to Train your Cat to Promote your Book by Rayne Hall

One might think that Rayne Hall’s book “How to Train your Cat to Promote your Book” will only attract a limited readership. How many people are there who write books, and how many of those writers have a cat companion? Actually, quite a few; the book tells us that black cats in particular like to live with writers. But don’t be deceived. This book does much more than send useful messages to authors. Beginning with the dawning of an idea, the pages deal with the fascinating account of the development of that idea and on the way the reader is presented with insights into feline behaviour which may already have been observed but not completely understood.
Written in Hall’s very approachable, clear and fluent style, the book reveals aspects of the world according to Sulu, the author’s black feline companion. Through her account of this animal’s amenability to training and his willingness to participate in his human’s life, Hall opens a door onto the wide field of cat behaviour. In her dealing with a specific case of animal/human cooperation, she presents the general condition.

This can only be useful. There are many of us who deeply appreciate the enjoyment and the consolation of animal companionship and want to understand as much as we can about our friends from another species. Many of us also have a sneaking suspicion that cats know exactly what they are doing and in the scratching order, they are the ones with the claws, so it is in our interests to understand what may be going on.

“How to Train your Cat to Promote your Book” gives us a comprehensive and clear look at how cats are likely to respond to their human friends in certain circumstances. In response to the author’s assurance that feline training is a careful, committed and long-term process, I began to try her methods on my own cat, with little expectation that I would see a great deal of change. The author’s cat is young, full of the joy of life (or catnip), enthusiastic and interested in the novel events of his day. My companion is much older, staid, friendly and a creature of great habit. However, within two weeks of following some of Hall’s training suggestions, I can see that my cat’s interest has been engaged. A new experience has come into her life and I believe that she is beginning to enjoy it. Whether it will produce the results which appear in the pages of this book remains to be seen but I have hopes.

In the chapters dealing with the practicalities of preparing and capturing the images which form the basis of a creature-assisted promotion, the author lays out the process in necessary detail, revealing the personal experience from which the book has emerged. As well as the many images, notes from a veterinary doctor also appear through the book, adding even more substance to the well-prepared material.

The author never goes too far in interpreting animal behaviour in human terms, although she does sketch out parallels in human thinking and feline responses. She points out, a little startlingly, that cats vocalise because they have worked out that we humans need sound to communicate meaning. She also suggests from time to time that Sulu’s mind harbours certain improbable intentions, but that is just an
enjoyable extra to the main line of her argument which is that if you want to, you can shape your cat’s behaviour. It would not happen to a cat in the wild, but in the domestic setting training is something which probably makes the cat’s life enjoyable and interesting and possibly will be helpful, not only to a book-promoting author but also to a gardener who doesn’t want feline fertiliser in the vegie patch. It will take time and commitment but, according to Hall, it can be done.

Rayne Hall’s book about her cat and its response to training for a specific purpose is without doubt a very good read and one I would highly recommend to anyone who cares about the quality of their animal companion’s life – and, of course, of their own.
***** Five Stars
Reviewed by Judith Rook


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