12 November 2018

Celebrating Two Years of the Animal Book Club

Great books about animals, discussed amongst friends… The Companion Animal Psychology Book  Club is two years old.

Celebrating two years of the Animal Book Club for people who love books and love animals


This month the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club is two years old.

I started the book club in November 2016, intending it to be a small group. Within a couple of days several hundred people had joined and I stopped accepting new members because I did not want the group to get too big.

The first book was The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis, which remains one of my favourites of all the ones we’ve read. Other personal favourites include Being a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz, How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) by Lee Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut, and Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat by Hal Herzog. I was also pleased to re-read Plenty in Life Is Free by Kathy Sdao with the book club.

But it's really hard to pick favourites because I've enjoyed them all, and every single one is well worth reading! Rather than mention them all here, you can see a full list in the Animal Book Club Amazon store or on the book club page. If you're looking for something animal-related to read, it's a great place to find a good book.

Members choose the books, and they are always excellent choices! This month’s book is Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley with Hilary Hinzmann.

Celebrating two years of the animal book club. Here, a dog relaxes by a book.


I’ve been incredibly lucky to interview the authors of some of the book club choices, which has been a real honour (and great fun too). You can read those interviews here:


The book club reads ten books a year, taking January and July off. If you’d like to join, follow the instructions on the book club page.

Celebrating two years of the animal book club for people who love animals and love books


I also recently started a Facebook group called Animal Books for those who would like to chat about books, share news about new titles and interviews with authors, without the commitment to read a book a month. The group shares the same commitment to humane and kind treatment of animals (and people) as the Animal Book Club.

I always post the book of the month to this blog, and many people read the books alongside the book club too.

Celebrating two  years of the animal book club for people who love animals and books. Here, a fox curls up to sleep


Along the way, I’ve had fun choosing some nice photos for the announcements of each month’s book. But since it gets expensive to keep buying stock photos, I’ve switched to a standard frame that uses some of my favourite images.

Would you like a sneak preview of what we’re reading next month? It will be The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods.

What are your favourite books about animals?

Celebrating two years of the animal book club. Here, a cup of coffee and a book by a pond of koi carp


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07 November 2018

How to Feed Your Cat: The Modern Guide to Feline Foraging

The best way to feed cats has changed. Instead of leaving kibble in a bowl, here’s what you should do now.

How to feed your cat. Instead of leaving kibble in a bowl (pictured), here's what to do instead
Photo: Africa  Studio / Shutterstock


It used to be simple: put kibble in a bowl and leave it out all day.

But that’s not how we should be feeding our pet cats. A new consensus statement from the American Association of Feline Practitioners explains the way we feed cats now.

The AAFP says are several reasons to think more carefully about you feed your cat. One is the increase in overweight and obesity in pet cats, which is bad for their health (see: how to help a fat cat lose weight).

Another reason is that using food puzzles for cats is a great enrichment activity that engages cats’ hunting instincts. This is especially important now that most pet cats are kept indoors for a lot or all of the time.

As well, having the right feeding system can help to keep feline stress levels low. This is especially important in households with more than one cat.

Read on to find out the modern way to feed a cat.



Use puzzle feeders


Puzzle feeders are toys that make the cat work to get the food out. For example, a ball with a hole in that lets pieces of kibble fall out when the cat pushes the ball around. Or something the cat has to reach into with a paw to get the kibble.

There are many different commercially available food puzzle toys, but it’s also very easy to make your own. Most are designed for dry food like kibble, but some also work with wet food.

When your cat is new to food puzzles, you need to make them easy and use treats; over time, your cat can progress to more difficult food toys.

For reviews of many different types of food puzzles, check out foodpuzzlesforcats.

How to feed your cat: Multiple small meals a day with food toys, different locations, and separated resources



Frequent small meals for cats


The AAFP recommend the cats’ daily calorie count is split into multiple small meals throughout each 24 hour period.

Although they do not specify how many meals a day is ideal for cats, International Cat Care suggest you feed your cat five (or more) small meals a day.

Since it is likely you will be out for some of those meals, you can use an automated feeder and set the timer to provide a meal when you are at work.


Feed High Up and in Different Places


Cats like to be high up, and so food does not have to be provided on the floor. In fact, the AAFP recommend that you use high places to feed your cat.

But they caution that for some cats, such as those with arthritis, this may not be possible.

For all cats, change the location of the food instead of feeding in the same place each time. This way cats have to use their senses (such as their nose) to forage for it.


Keep food and water separate


Cats prefer to have their resources separated, so that means food should be kept separate from water. And it needs to be in a place(s) the cat feels safe.

How to feed your cat: multiple small meals a day, via food toys, and other rules of feeding cats these days
It's easy to make DIY food toys for your cat. Photo: jessjeppe / Shutterstock

As well, food and water should of course be in a different location than the litter boxes.


Separate food in multi-cat households


If you have more than one cat, you need to take account of the relationship between the cats when feeding them.

Although some cats may get on well and not mind, most cats would prefer to eat separately. Remember they are solitary hunters and would normally hunt and eat on their own.

So if you have multiple cats, make sure their food is separate. They should be able to eat their food in peace without seeing the other cats.

If need be, you can get crafty and put one cat's meals in locations other pets cannot reach or squeeze into, and/or use automatic feeders that will only open for the correct animal's microchip.


Keep an eye on your cat’s weight


Your vet will weigh your cat at each appointment, but the AAFP recommend that you monitor your cat’s weight. If you have any concerns, speak to your veterinarian.

They also say that treats should not make up more than 10% of the cat's daily calorie intake.


How to feed cats


So that’s how to feed cats: Five (or more) small meals a day, via puzzle feeders left in different locations, preferably high up, separate from the water bowl, and away from other cats in the household.

If you have any questions or concerns about you cat's weight or food, speak to your veterinarian.

Do you already follow these guidelines when feeding your cat? How many meals a day do you give your cat?


P.S. If you love Companion Animal Psychology, you can support me on ko-fi.



You might also like:  Five things to do for your cat today and how to make the world better for cats.


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04 November 2018

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club November 2018

"The most scientifically important dog in over a century." —Brian Hare.

Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words is the Animal Book Club choice for October


The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for November 2018 is Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley with Hilary Hinzmann.

From the back cover, 
"Chaser has fascinated dog lovers and scientists alike. Her story reveals the potential for taking out dialogue with dogs well beyond "fetch." When retired psychology professor John Pilley first got his new Border collie puppy, Chaser, he wanted to explore the boundaries of language learning and communication between humans and man's best friend. Exhibiting intelligence previously thought impossible in dogs, Chaser soon learned the names of more than a thousand toys and sentences with multiple elements of grammar. Chaser's accomplishments are revolutionizing the way we think about the intelligence of animals. John and Chaser's inspiring journey demonstrates the power of learning through play and opens our eyes to the boundless potential in the animals we love."

Will you be reading too?

Visit the Animal Book Club Amazon store or the book club page to buy this or other book club choices.


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