My thanks to ECW Press for a review copy of this book via NetGalley.        

The Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten (2022) is the third volume of memoirs/anecdotes by German-born, Canadian veterinary doctor and writer, Dr Philipp Schott (I have previously read and reviewed the second volume, How to Examine a Wolverine, as well as a work of detective fiction by the author, featuring of course a vet as the detective, Fifty-four Pigs, both of which I enjoyed very much).

Like his previous sets of memoirs, The Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten too, contains 60 short pieces, this time not categorized in any way (by type of experience or kind of animal—arranged alphabetically by title instead) and covers a whole lot of ground. We have stories of specific patients, Dr Schott’s memories of his childhood, his own training, initial days in practice (including how he never ever got a job he interviewed for) and his absentmindedness, as well as some colleagues, besides also some general pieces (for instance, on bathing dogs—and thankfully not having to bathe cats; or doctors’ struggles to keep up with advances in medicine). Well aware that his work, though in a different vein, is bound to be compared to James Herriott, Dr Schott goes ahead and does so himself, including telling us how he never read Herriott until quite late in the day.

Being written during the pandemic, this is a theme that comes up every so often in the book, from pointing out how people’s reliance on pets increased during this time (so many more being acquired, and understandably so), to how pets (and animals more generally) continued to be just as they were, unperturbed by all that was happening and carried on purring and woofing as always, and also how veterinary practice itself changed during the time (only urgent cases allowed, and pet parents having to wait in the car while patients were fetched with some conversations between doctor and parents taking place in well-below freezing temperatures in the parking lot). Perhaps bearing this in mind Dr Schott chose to include mostly cheery episodes (which I for one was very glad about), although a few heart-breaking and melancholy ones do creep in as well.

Again, like in the previous volume, while most stories are of small animal practice (dogs and cats), we meet some unusual patients (as the equipment at their hospital is at times used to help out the zoo) including a snow leopard cub, and a pelican (the latter story painlessly teaching us something about ultrasounds and about pelicans). He even gets to ultrasound a tiny fish, another experience I’m sure not many have been through. And we also learn why he tries to stay far far away from parrots!

Some of my favourite stories in this volume included Scott, a Labrador Collie mix who was suddenly unable to walk or stand very well with a very surprising reason behind it (I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what), or Dr Scott’s experience bringing his one of own cats, Lucy in for a check up when she developed some trouble (as much a struggle as any of us ‘ordinary’ pet parents face). And also an entertaining ‘conversation’ between Dr Schott and one of his patients during the pandemic (for parents had to wait outside). And how can I not talk about the Siamese kitten of the title, ‘Supercat’ who not only had an extraordinarily loud caterwaul (as though he was being ‘dumped into bubbling lava’), but also a lunge apparently like ‘Rocky Balboa going at the punching bag with the video sped up ten times’—wouldn’t want to be in his path!

Written in a humorous style that I very much enjoyed, this collection once again gives us a mix of entertainment, fun, heart-warming moments and lots of lovable animals but also puts across at the same time, plenty of useful information and trivia, and raises issues that are socially relevant (like the need for support for the elderly to be able to continue to have pets who can provide much needed company and comfort at their stage of life).

With wonderful illustrations by Brian Gable to complement many of the pieces, this is a book that any animal lover would enjoy, whether read spread out or all together!


11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten (2022) by Philipp Schott

  1. You’d have to be a complete zoophobe bereft of a sense of humour to be offended by or despise this book, it seems. Luckily I’m neither a hater of animals nor humourless, so this series sounds delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I kind of liked it when I could just park the car and the vet tech would come out and get my dog. I could just sit in the car and listen to an audiobook. I miss that. But, I’m sure it was hard on the staff.

    Liked by 1 person

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