#BookReview: Pets and the City by Amy Attas

#BookReview: Pets and the City by Amy AttasPets and the City: True Tales of a Manhattan House Call Veterinarian by Amy Attas
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, audiobook
Genres: animals, memoir, nonfiction
Pages: 320
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on June 18, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.orgBetter World Books

Hilarious, jaw-dropping, and heartfelt stories from New York City’s premier “house-call veterinarian” that take you into the exclusive penthouses and 4-star hotel rooms of the wealthiest New Yorkers and show that, when it comes to their pets, they are just as neurotic as any of us.

When a pet is sick, people—even the rich and famous—are at their most authentic and vulnerable. They could have a Monet on the wall and an Oscar on the shelf, but if their cat gets a cold, all they want to talk about are snotty noses and sneezing fits. That’s when they call premier in-home veterinarian Dr. Amy Attas.

In Pets and the City , Dr. Attas shares all the shocking, heartbreaking, and life-affirming experiences she’s faced throughout her 30-year career—like the time she saw a naked Cher (no, her rash was not the same as her puppy’s); when she met a skilled service dog who, after his exam was finished, left the room and returned with a checkbook in his mouth; and when she saved the life of a retired, agoraphobic Hollywood producer during a monthly treatment for his cat, Amos. In these moments Dr. Attas noticed key insights about animal, and human, nature—like how humans attach to one another through their love of animals, or how animals don’t have pride, ego, or vanity that their humans seem to value so much, sometimes to their detriment.

To Dr. Attas, she doesn’t just heal animals. She witnesses how they and their humans help and heal each other, and how the special bond between pet and owner might actually make us better people.

My Review:

Once upon a time in 1980, there was a book. To be fair, there’s always a book. But the book in this particular case was All My Patients Are Under the Bed by Louis J. Camuti. I still have a copy – even if one or more cats have gnawed on it a bit.

Dr. Camuti, like Dr. Attas, the author of Pets and the City, was a house call veterinarian in Manhattan, in the decades before Dr. Attas finished her training. Dr. Camuti’s practice was just a bit different, however, even for his own time, as he was one of the first vets to specialize in cats.

Dr. Attas, taking up, or finding herself in, her own visiting vet service in Manhattan, takes on all comers, as the stories in her book joyously and sometimes heartbreakingly attest.

To paraphrase the classic Law and Order intro, so apropos because that series is also set in NYC, these are her stories – and the stories of the animals and their people that she has treated along her way.

Reality Rating B: The author does several things in this collection of cat tales and not-necessarily-shaggy dog stories. First she tells her own tale, her origin story, not just how and why she became a vet, but how she fell – or was pushed, she was definitely pushed – into opening her peripatetic Manhattan practice.

Second, she tells oodles of sometimes funny, sometimes sad, occasionally downright heartbreaking stories about the animals – and their people – that she treated along the way. Those stories, even when they absolutely break your heart as they did hers, are THE BEST part of the whole book.

Even if the dogs did outnumber the cats.

Howsomever, as the blurb implies that there will be stories of the rich and famous of Manhattan, the third thing is that there is more than a bit of name-dropping. Unfortunately that part of her story is already starting to seem a bit dated as some of her early famous clients – as ultra-famous as a few of them were back in their day – have since passed away in the decades since Dr. Attas’ career began.

And occasionally the author gets up on her soapbox about animal and/or pet-related causes that are near and dear to her heart. But as this book is squarely aimed at animal lovers of all types and stripes and spots, most readers will empathize with her convictions.

To make a not very long story even shorter, Pets and the City, as much as the title titillates with its resemblance to Sex and the City, isn’t really about the rich and famous, and doesn’t dish dirty secrets on some of the city’s more famous and/or infamous residents. So if that’s what you are here for, this probably isn’t the book for you.

Also if you’re really, really, seriously a cat lover, the dogs are definitely having their day in this book. Personally, I always want more cat stories but the dogs ARE adorable – even when something noxious is gushing out of one of their orifices.

Ultimately, Pets and the City is a collection of (true but the names have been changed to protect the guilty) stories about the pets whose people live and work in Manhattan. No matter how palatial – or how down at heel – the place where their person lives and/or work, it’s the pets and THEIR stories that always takes center stage.

Which is exactly how it should be.

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