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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: How to Argue with a Cat: A Human's Guide to the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs

We have two cats, Doozy and Turkey. They are both extremely persuasive in their own ways. Turkey has learned that even though he is almost six, if he makes a tiny kitten meow, he's more likely to get what he wants. Doozy will actually put a paw out towards a food we have that she wants, as if to help direct us. And if you have a cat or six, you'll know what I mean. Do you feed the cats on your schedule, or on their schedule? Do you pet them (and more importantly, stop petting them) when you want to, or when they want you to? Have you ever stopped doing work in order to throw a ball or a mouse or shake a feathery thing? Did you really think, I want to take a break from work right now, or did your cat bring you that mouse and drop it at your feet?

Not only are cats very persuasive, but they are very difficult to persuade. I have been unable to persuade Turkey to stop eating our clothes, so all closets must be kept tightly closed. When I need to lock him in my office for a while, such as when the exterminator was here spraying for ants, he will not be persuaded to relax and chill and hang out. Instead he will spend four hours staring at the door pensively.

If you can persuade a cat to do things, you can persuade anyone. And who better to learn lessons of persuasion from, then your cat? Does he ever argue you into submission? Considering his lack of human language, I'll bet that's a big no. And yet, when I'm cleaning up the grass he has vomited on the carpet after he convinced me for the umpteenth time to let him go out in the yard and eat grass, and somehow he told me, don't worry, this time I won't throw up. I know he's the master of this skill and I am not.

Mr. Heinrichs has written a serious, successful book about the art of persuasion. And here he has taken the same subject, and run with the metaphor, to make for a very accessible, highly entertaining book about silly cats and their ridiculous way (paired with hilarious drawings) which will in the end teach you how to be a more persuasive human, even if your cat will still always win arguments. But maybe now you can at least convince other humans to do what you want. Even if you can never convince cats.

This book is published by Rodale Books, which is distributed by Macmillan, my employer.

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