1. "Cats: An Illustrated Miscellany," by Frederic Vitoux (Rizzoli, New York, NY, 2014; $29.95). It's 256 pages and 130 color and black-and-white illustrations of random facts, stories and art about cats. This book is delicious, equally beautiful and fascinating. Cats have been muses for many, and I learned tons of feline minutiae. My favorite chapter is Vitoux's personal ode to the cats of his own life. His previous books include "Cats in the Louvre" and "Living in Venice." Vitoux is a member of the prestigious Academic Francaise.
3. "My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope," by Ellie Laks (Harmony Books, New York, NY, 2014; $25). Laks writes about the nonprofit organization she founded which rehabilitees and offers sanctuary to abused animals. Indeed, she was successful at healing animals, and simultaneously, they healed her. Since its inception, the Gentle Barn has provided a home for thousands of animals (from household pets to goats, pigs, cows and rabbits), and has served at-risk teens who help care for the animals. Many experience a change in their lives based on what the animals teach them. The language of healing works, and this book is downright inspirational.
4. "Downton Tabby," by Chris Kelly (Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 2013; $10). This charming parody of "Downton Abbey" features only felines, but there are plenty of prima donnas in the group and lots of intrigue. Take this bit of dramatic dialogue:
"Papa, I know you won't approve, but a wire-haired terrier has asked me to go ratting with him on the wharf."
Lord Grimalkin: "You most certainly will not...."
"But he's asked me to marry him."
Lord Grimalkin: "Very well, then. I suppose I'm an old stick-in-the-mud. You have my blessing. Good dogs, wire-haired's. Hate rats. We can build on that."
5. "Dog Gone, Back Soon," by Dr. Nick Trout (Hyperian, New York, NY, 2014; $15). Dr. Trout is a staff surgeon at Angell Animal Hospital in Boston, and author of bestselling non-fiction books "Tell Me Where It Hurts" and "Love Is the Best Medicine." This effort is a stab at fiction, offering a hero, Dr. Cyrus Mills, who runs a small veterinary practice. In a David vs. Goliath-style tale, Mills comes up against a big-time corporate practice. Meanwhile, his patients include a pothead puppy and a cat who looks like a beach ball.
6. "There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven: Finding Comfort After the Loss of a Pet," by Sonya Fitzpatrick (Berkley Publishing, New York, NY; 2013; $15). Famed pet psychic (she prefers "animal communicator"), a former host on "Animal Planet" and current national radio show host, Fitzpatrick says the most common questions she receives relate to the death of beloved pets. She offers tips on how to cope. According to Fitzpatrick, we'll all meet again in the spirit world. I hope she's right about that.
(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)
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