Probably the first books I checked out at my public library as a child were books about dogs and cats, specifically breed books. I’m still at it these, ahem, several years later. We recently got two “Ultimate Guide” books, one on dogs and one on cats (The Ultimate Guide to Cats by Candida Frith-Macdonald and The Ultimate Guide to Dogs by David Alderton). They are both extremely well illustrated, with several pictures of each breed and each breed includes an information guide to the originating country, the weight, colors available, and an icon indicating the amount of coat care needed for the breed. Dogs also have an icon for exercise level (low, medium, or high) and height, while cats get icons for build (cobby, lean, or medium) and temperament (placid or active). The divisions are somewhat unusual, owing to the fact that the books are English. Dogs are divided into companion, terriers, hounds, gundogs, herding dogs, and working dogs, which is a little different from the AKC groupings most Americans are more familiar with. Cats are divided into shorthair, longhair, rexed (curly coated) and hairless, and breeds with unusual features (odd tails or ears like Manx and Scottish Fold) and hybrids, which consists solely of the Bengal.

Again, given that the books are English, the breeds are also a bit different from American breed book listings for both cats and dogs. That’s a bit of a plus to my way of thinking, since there are a few listed that aren’t normally found in American breed books. The dog photos are also very interesting, since ear cropping is not allowed and  tail docking is limited in England and you get to see natural Dobermans and Great Danes, Schnauzers, etc.

The dog book is very prescriptive about dogs and their temperaments, stating absolutely that certain breeds should not be allowed around children or be kept as pets. I don’t know that most breed experts or behaviorists would necessarily agree that Rottweilers should categorically not be around children, so you might consider taking that advice with a grain of salt.

The cat book has, aside from the aforementioned, very detailed and interesting information about the genetics of coat colors and the science behind the varied eye colors of cats. I would recommend both books for those interested in the subjects, keeping in mind the quirks of both.

For more cat information and some interesting anecdotes, cat lovers would enjoy Cat Calls by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan. Adlon is described as New York City’s first full-time cat sitter, and she’s been at it for more than thirty-five years. She also started the first store in Manhattan for cat items and writes an online column on cat care and behavior for

I didn’t think I would be likely to learn much from the book, having had cats since I was two years old, but I did pick up a tidbit or two. For cat novices or those with just a few years’ experience, I think there is a lot of really good information here. The chapter (yes, a whole chapter) on litter boxes is worth the price of admission.

I did enjoy the anecdotes about some of her more interesting cat sitting situations, although I think she was a little over reactive to the tarantula kept in one home. After all, he was in a terrarium!

So, these are just some of the latest additions to our large section on pets that might pique your interest. If cats and dogs aren’t your thing, check out the books on turtles, snakes, lizards, fish, horses and more!