We Review National Geographic's "How to Speak Cat"

The book teaches kids to properly handle, communicate with, and care for cats; it's also great for adults.

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One of the reasons I love writing this column is I get to show readers that kids and cats really can enjoy mutually respectful relationships. Some cat lovers don’t believe this is possible, mostly because of negative past experiences, and it’s true that uninformed or very young children should not be left alone with cats.

I believe the key to helping kids and cats develop friendships lies in the hands of adults. It’s up to us to teach our children how to handle cats and read their language. It’s like with anything we teach our kids — our time, patience, and knowledge are valuable investments, and it’s gratifying to see the results. 

This is why I was beyond excited when I was asked to review National Geographic’s How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language. It’s written for kids ages 8-12, but I’m here to tell you it’s applicable to readers of any age. Even toddler-aged kids can learn by looking at the photos as an adult reads along. The pages are wildly colorful, and nearly every one features a photo of a cat. Who doesn’t enjoy looking at cat photos? When my kids were little, we’d read The Cat Encyclopedia together, but half of our time was spent going nuts over the adorable kitty pics. 

Test your knowledge!

Co-written by a veterinarian, How to Speak Cat covers an extensive number of topics, including: reading types of meows, decoding body language, and general cat care; they even take the time to bust silly myths that have been around forever. What’s especially fun and helpful are the loads of cat poses that help demonstrate the lessons on those pages — for example, the various messages kitties can communicate with their tail. This is the kind of information kids need to know if they share their lives with cats. And they can teach their friends. This book would be an excellent gift to a family who’s just adopted a cat.   

I’m a sucker for quizzes, and this book has ’em! Kids can come home from school and take even more quizzes! But these quizzes are fun and interesting … and they’re about cats! Kids who are too young to read can have the quizzes read to them, and point to photos that go along with the questions. There are tons of ways to be creative when using this book as a teaching tool. Have fun with it! Not only is How to Speak Cat full of valuable information and quick tips and facts, it’s also visually pleasing, and kids can walk away with practical knowledge that will strengthen their relationship with the cats in their home. 

Cosmo says he’ll tutor me.

I think it’s a must-read, even before you decide to adopt a cat. How cool would it be for a child to be up to speed with cat language and care when the new kitty joins the family! I wish this book had been around when my kids were small. I mean, the Cat Encyclopedia was great and all, but this little book is seriously packed with an incredible amount of tips and material that’s useful for everyone in the family. Even if you don’t have kids, I’d recommend picking up a copy.

How have you taught your kids about proper cat care and handling, as well as reading cats’ language? Tell us in the comments! 

Read more about cats and kids:

Read More by Angie Bailey:

About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.


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