Best holiday bets for those who love their pets

PETS AT HOME

November 27, 1993|By Gina Spadafori | Gina Spadafori,McClatchy News Service

Is there a rule that scratching posts have to be ugly? Sometimes it seems as if every manufacturer is working with the same couple of patterns, and an endless pile of carpet remnants from the '70s -- ugly shags in weird colors.

Is it any wonder an animal as discriminating as a cat ignores the thing and casts a cool glance at you for such obvious bad taste? "She put that thing in her living room, can you believe it?" he hisses to his friends, and they laugh, condescending kitty snickers at your expense.

You don't have to live like this.

While I usually think there's nothing really new in the pet world -- or worth putting on a holiday shopping list, anyway -- the Doctors Foster and Smith catalog has changed my mind. Their cat section -- especially the distinctive line of accessories -- is the best around. The catalog's free, with a call to (800) 323-4208.

No mere scratching posts these, the collection of cat furniture offers vivid, modern colors, creative design and a touch of whimsy. Foster and Smith also offers a wide selection of treats, toys, books and beds for cats as well as dogs, and charming gifts for animal lovers.

Other best bets:

* Rottweiler is still the hottest breed around and that's got to be good news for Alexandra Day and her books about Carl the Rottweiler. The latest is "Carl Goes to Daycare" (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $12.95); like the others it's well-drawn and well-written. A delightful gift for any Rottie fan, especially a young one. Best yet: The author (real name: Sandra Darling) supports breed-rescue and education efforts. When a breed becomes as popular as the Rottie, there's great need for this work.

* If you've got a child who's nuts about dogs, pick up an entertaining two-book package designed to educate in an effortless way. Michael J. Rosen's "Kids' Best Dog Book" and "Kids Best Field Guide to Neighborhood Dogs" (Workman; $12.95) are sold together, along with a reflective heart tag for the collar of a favorite dog. "Best Dog Book" is superb, but it's the "Best Field Guide" that gets even higher marks from me.

A slim, pocket-sized book, it encourages children to act like field biologists in their own neighborhood, learning about the different breeds and marking sightings in the book. There are short summaries and illustrations of 75 different breeds, and extra pages for the rarer "specimens" a budding scientist might run across.

* Finally, don't forget to share your love of animals by giving to those helping pets others have abandoned. Honor the pet-lover who has everything with a donation to your local shelter or other non-profit animal group. It's been a rough year for charities, and these could really use the help.

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