A CORK vet has written a book for kids that is designed to help junior cat owners understand their feline friends.
Aisling O’Keeffe, originally from Togher, feels that cats can be largely misunderstood and she wants to set the record straight.
The mum-to-be, qualified as a vet from University College Dublin in 2015 and has since completed two postgraduate certificates (feline behaviour and small animal medicine).
She works in The Cat Hospital in Glanmire, which featured in a very popular RTÉ series in 2019.
“I got inspired to write the book after I completed my feline behaviour certificate. I learned so much about cat behaviour that I wanted to share some of that information with others. Who better than children? They’re like sponges and don’t have any preconceived ideas about cats. They’re open to learning and to be educated about cats,” she explained.
Aisling was also inspired to write Minding Mittens by her late dad: “He wrote two books on the history of Togher and never made the idea of writing a book seem impossible, so I decided why not. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
The self-published book is an interactive, fun read, with a quiz and a colouring page, but it’s also highly educational. Illustrations are by Leah Murphy, a Cork artist.
“It includes information about normal behaviour in cats and ways to prevent behavioural problems from occurring. It’s much easier to prevent a problem from happening rather than fixing it afterwards and this book enables children to do just this. My hope is to make junior cat owners the BEST cat owners!” explains Aisling.
“Some problems are very obvious to the owners, e.g. scratching furniture, peeing or pooing somewhere indoors other than the litter box, scratching and biting of people.
“Other problems can often go unnoticed by owners as they’re harder to recognise, e.g. chronic stress in cats, conflict between cats in the same household, etc.
“Certain behavioural problems can even cause so much stress to the cat that it can result in medical issues like cystitis or skin conditions. Early detection of changes in your cats behaviour is very important and you should contact your vet as soon as you can!,” she adds.
Her top advice to anyone thinking of getting a cat is to do your research, and make sure that your house and lifestyle suits a cat.
“If you have a vet already, have a chat with them, and also International Cat Care have fantastic resources on their website about getting a cat and looking after it.”
It’s been a busy year for Aisling, who as well as publishing the book, has moved from the city to Leamlara with fiancé David.
“We moved to a 150 year cottage that we’ve renovated with a huge garden. We’re expecting our first baby in December and have three dogs, four cats and two rabbits so it’s all go!”
The book is available to buy from participating veterinary clinics (The Cat Hospital in Glanmire, SkinVet in Midleton and Riverview Veterinary Clinics), postage nationwide is available through private message on the Minding Mittens facebook page and it’s also available on Amazon.
I learned so much about cat behaviour that I wanted to share some of that information with others. Who better than children? They are like sponges and don’t have preconceived ideas.