Review of The Way of Cats by Pamela Merritt

This is my review of the book The Way of Cats by Pamela Merritt. I have written a couple of earlier posts on sections of the book to allow myself to get into it. Today, I dipped into Merritt’s thoughts on how you go about adopting a cat. And in reading that section, which is quite short at three pages, I believe I can comment about the entire book in terms of how she delivers her thoughts and her writing style.

The Way Of Cats
The Way Of Cats by Pamela Merritt
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This is an intensely personal book. I sense that Merritt has sat down and poured out her thoughts based on many years of experience in cat rescue and caretaking. She has not delved into reference works to fill out the book which I think was a smart move, by the way. Jackson Galaxy in his book Total Cat Mojo worked with Mikel Delgado PhD to add some hard surrounding detail to his thoughts and I don’t think it works. The book becomes cumbersome and the author’s unique and original voice is lost.

So, this book is intensely focused on Merritt’s thoughts and that model is supporting by her writing style which is quite idiosyncratic and personal. It is not bland and homogenised. It is straight out of her head. It takes time and thought to digest and understand exactly what she means. That’s no bad thing either because it gives you the chance to think about what she’s saying.

The book covers all the usual aspects of cat guardianship including training; perhaps focusing strongly on the emotional context of the human-to-cat relationship and how to get the most out of it by investing more and receiving more in return. That’s my overall interpretation of the book which I would strongly recommend to cat guardians who want to better understand their cats and provide them with a good life.

Pamela Merritt and one of her cats
Pamela Merritt and one of her cats. Photo: Amazon.

Merritt on adoption

In the remainder of this article, I refer to Merritt’s take on cat adoption. She concludes that in adopting a cat most people rely on “feeling the connection”. This is invariably true. When people adopt a cat, they wait for chemistry to occur which might seem strange because we use the word “chemistry” in the context of human relations. It also happens between humans and domestic cats. Or at least that’s what it feels like. And it seems that Pamela Merritt agrees because she writes that there is something magical about “the tug of some incipient bond”. In other words, people feel the beginnings of a bond when the chemistry is right.

Although Merritt states that the heart is an important part of successful cat adoption, she also reminds adopters that they shouldn’t allow prejudices to cloud their minds. She writes “Understanding what we are seeing in a potential cat or kitten will cut down on unwelcome surprises later.”

I think in that statement she is stating that people should reflect on how they are going about choosing a cat or kitten and ask themselves whether they are being honest in their appraisal and selection process. If people are honest about their own motives and abilities, they can avoid problems that occur subsequently which might lead to the possibility of relinquishing a cat not long after adoption because they don’t “fit in”. Incidentally this is exactly what has happened concerning many impulsive dog adoptions during the Covid pandemic.

And not ‘fitting in’ is ultimately down to the person making the wrong selection and providing the wrong environment. She says that sometimes people can end up having to choose between “trying to change a cat or trying to change our situation”.

The key is that all important connection which you feel has been created. If you connect with your chosen cat you can communicate with her. If you can communicate, you can love her. That’s the philosophy of Pamela Merritt on cat adoption.

You can buy her book on Amazon. Here is the link to the US Amazon page for her book.

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