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Catflexing: The Catlover's Guide to Weightlifting, Aerobics & Stretching
by Stephanie Jackson
1997

How many cat lovers and exercise enthusiasts have ever picked up their favorite feline and thought, "Hmm, Fluffy weighs about the same as a ten-pound dumbbell!" Perhaps more than anyone would ever have imagined, because how else could this book have come into existence and found a publisher?

While she's neither a fitness professional nor a veterinarian, author Stephanie Jackson has put together a book that is filled with good, common sense advice about exercise, nutrition and cat care. And, surprisingly, the "catflexing" exercises in the book would actually form a decent workout for many women - providing, of course, that they have a willing cat, and that's another story altogether. In reality it's not likely that many kitties would tolerate being lifted for two to three sets of 20 exercises. Jackson somehow lucked out and found the perfect partner - Bad, a longhaired tortoiseshell who, judging from her attitude in the photographs, apparently believes that both the exercises and the photo session are for her benefit alone. The chubbier Masi - used for exercises that require extra weight - looks tolerant enough, but nowhere near as pleased as Bad.

For those who lack a cooperative cat, most of these exercises - which have names like "Overhead Cat Press" and "Standing Catbell Curls" - can be done with 3-5 pound dumbbells. Jackson's form in the photos is pretty good (especially considering that she's using a cat as a weight). Only once does she falter, on the "Dead Cat Lift." While the instructions are correct, her form in the photo is improper, and it's listed as a back exercise when, in reality, dead lifts (with or without cat) should really work the hamstrings - the back of the legs.

Aside from the exercises, Jackson notes that it's important for both people and cats to get some aerobic activity several days a week, and offers suggestions for both human and feline. She also recommends a low fat, balanced diet that's high in fiber and low in refined sugars (no surprise there). That's for the people. Cats require much higher fat and protein intake than humans, and Jackson has some very good advice on how to choose quality cat food.

Of course this is a novelty book, but it's also nicely informative, especially for someone who's thinking of starting an exercise program but isn't sure how to go about it. It's an amusing, humor-filled introduction that may have the reader exploring further material on both fitness and cat care - and that's a very good thing!

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