Rachel's Reviews > All My Patients are Under the Bed: Memoirs of a Cat Doctor

All My Patients are Under the Bed by Louis J. Camuti
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's review
Feb 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: biography-memoir, animals

I usually find memoirs written by vets to be disappointing because so often they're quickly churned out stories by essentially uninteresting people who are trying to capitalize on the popularity of James Herriot's books. But All My Patients Are Under the Bed is a nice, odd little book, dictated by veterinarian Louis Camuti and written/edited by Marilyn and Haskel Frankel, who were friends and clients of Camuti's.

Camuti is a bit of a crank, but that's to be expected considering he dictated this book when he was in his late 80s and still practicing veterinary medicine. Born in 1893, he continued to work right up until his death in 1981, dying when his pacemaker failed on the way home from visiting one of his cat patients. Although he had started out with a conventional practice, first in Mount Vernon, New York, and later in the city on Park Avenue, his practice eventually became a house-call only business. He would start late in the afternoon and end around midnight, accompanied by his wife who worked as his assistant. Although most of his patients were cats, he treated a variety of animals both ordinary and exotic. Many of his clients were famous -- he has stories about James Mason (who was potty about his cats) and Marlene Dietrich (whom Camuti didn't initially recognize and thought of only as his client's annoying mother), as well as a number of people I think I'm supposed to have heard of but since they were Broadway stars in the 30s and 40s, I have no clue who they are.

Camuti was no doubt was a good vet, but some of his pet care advice is long out-of-date and probably shouldn't be followed (e.g., feeding a cat an exclusive diet of chopped beef baby food, courses of geriatric inoculations, using gin as an antiseptic). Otherwise, it's a good book, albeit more for cat people than the general reader.
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