Five days. Ten magazines. Your intrepid blogger is here with reviews of pet magazines! This past Christmas holiday, I read three highlighting both dogs and cats, four about just dogs, and three about just cats. If you live in the Lincoln area, the majority of these magazines are available at your local pet store and/or bookstore. Read on to see what I thought of the magazines.
ABOUT DOGS AND CATS
Animal Tales | $4.99 per issue, $19.97 for a 1-year subscription (6 issues) | 60 pages
Animal Tales is the only magazine I read that is aimed at children, ages 6-12. Because of this intended audience, the magazine is naturally stylish and colorful, right down to the text and backgrounds. All three sections are on the lighter reading side. One of the bigger sections, Picture Perfect, is filled with photos, polls, giveaway offers, and even a poster. The smallest section, Animal Facts, contains news, a questions and answers page, and a relatively informational article about hippos. A third section, Features, is mostly nature trivia: animal record breakers and unusual animal pals. However, there is a how-to article about pursuing a career as a dog-walker, along with a human interest story about a puppy who saved a kitten. While some of the content covers wildlife, the majority focuses on dogs and cats. Fun and educational magazine, especially for younger audiences.
Animal Wellness | $6.95 per issue, $24 for a 1-year/6-issue subscription ($12 digital) | 100 pages
Animal Wellness highlights mostly dogs, but also includes a ten-page back section on cats. Content is varied. In the Columns section, there are tributes to those pets who have changed an owner’s life and to pets who have died, along with write-ups on rescued pets and rescue groups. Also, in the Columns section is a round-up of pet news, articles from their archives, and short book reviews. At least half of the magazine is dedicated to a Features section. In the December 2015/January 2016 issue, three articles are about diet, three are about diseases, three are about seasons and/or holidays, and the rest are on assorted topics. Unless about diseases, the bulk of the articles in the features section contain a short introduction, with the rest of the content being designed with detailed checklists and sidebars for an easy read. A few articles seem most suited to a select audience, but the majority are thorough with broad appeal. As the title suggests, this magazine is best suited to those owners who are primarily interested in their dog’s health. It’s also ideal for those who have both dogs and cats.
Fetch | free with Pet Plan policy and online, otherwise $4.99/issue or $10/1-year (4 issues) | 60 pages
Fetch isn’t what I expected, in that it’s a publication of the PetPlan insurance company. Despite being one of the shorter magazines, content is reasonably diverse. There are three sections: Features, Expert Advice, and Interviews & Numbers. About a third is news, another third consists of items written by veterinarians, and the final third are features. Of the features in the December 2015 issue, two are of relevance to only those interested in PetPlan, one feature being about the expanded layout of the company’s building and the other being about pets who have benefitted from their owners having pet insurance. The magazine has several perks, including an inviting layout that is generous with its use of color and white space. To some degree, Fetch is an advertisement for and celebration of PetPlan insurance. At the same time, it offers much educational content.
The Bark | $16 for a 1-year/4-issue subscription ($12.99 digital) | 100 pages
The content of The Bark magazine is divided into three sections: all of which seem to have a mix of longer articles and short filler content. What struck me first was the high number of reviews. There are reviews of authors, books, comics, films, and even plays. And the reviews aren’t just skimpy paragraphs, but full in-depth articles that could run to several pages. One is about a Hungarian movie called White God that I now want to see thanks to Bark’s review. Following the reviews, I noticed the high number of human-interest essays, at least in contrast to other pet magazines. The theme of “journeys” with pets apparently struck such a chord with readers; there is a plan to have a series of them. The rest of the content seems similar to that of other magazines, except sometimes with a unique take. For example, an article about separation anxiety examined that of the owners rather than the pets. Most pet magazines are very practical. Bark in contrast is a celebration of all things dogs. The design isn’t as pretty as other magazines, but I love the quirky content. The Bark is one of my favorite pet magazines.
CityDog | free online, otherwise $4.95 per issue, $18 for a 1-year/4-issue, 40 pages
For the general reader, City Dog suffers from the same flaw as Fetch, except worse. In its meager forty pages, almost a third showcases products, another third contains regional content, and the remaining third are general-interest features. City Dog is about living with dogs in the West, so I can’t really fault its emphasis on regional information. However, I can fault the fact that over half of the articles are written by the editor. In addition, the magazine name seems like a misnomer, because those articles with regional content are more about sights to see in the West than about the dogs. I didn’t care for it, but it’s available free and so you might just check it out for yourself.
Dogster | $5.99 per issue, $24.95 for a 1-year subscription (6 issues), 90 pages
Dogster is divided into seven sections. Each issue starts with Obsessions and Confessions. These two sections contain news, tips, as well as responses from readers to questions and polls. I bookmarked several items in the August/September 2015 issue to learn more about. The next section is Help Wanted, which contains medical advice from the renowned Dr. Marty Becker, and practical advice from other high-profile experts. The fourth section is Mind & Body, and the fifth section is Sit Stay Go. Together, these sections cover what seems to be the most popular content in pet magazines, that of health and obedience. Who’s That Dog? is the shortest section, with just two breeds spotlighted in this issue As for the final section, For the Love of Dogs offers the most variety of content; in the August/September 2015 issue, there are articles about entertainers and their dogs, dog heroes and rescued dog, quizzes, and product reviews. While I enjoyed my issue of Dogster, and wouldn’t hesitate to read another, I was surprised by how many articles provided little new information for me as a long-time dog owner. At the same time, the content is solid and would make a good subscription for less- experienced owners.
Modern Dog | $5.95 per issue, $16 for a 1-year/4-issue subscription ($9.99 on iTunes), 130 pages
Modern Dog is the biggest of the ten pet magazines I surveyed. As with Dogster, it has numerous sections. The shortest sections are The Goods (dog products), Breed Profile, and Body and Soul. The longest sections are Features and Living. Both of them contain an appealing mix of short and long articles. Unfortunately, the topics and approach varied so much that I often wasn’t sure why an article had been placed in a particular section. In the Winter 2014/2015 issue, there are articles about dog personality, training, health, as well as info about volunteering with your dog, entertaining your dog, handling emergencies, and even making dog-related crafts. The quality of the magazine’s content varied widely. One especially weak article is about dominant and submissive dogs. After a short introduction, the second paragraph tells how to recognize dominance in your dog, and the third paragraph tells how to recognize submissiveness in your dog. That’s it. The author fails to explain what to do with this awareness. One especially strong article is about how to bond with your dog. It covers the ancient bond, the innate desire of dogs to work with humans, how being rescued can impact closeness, the signs of a weak or strong bond, and what to do to strengthen the bond. There’s even a quiz and more than one checklist. Despite the uneven quality, Modern Dog offers something for everyone.
Catster | $5.99 per issue, $24.95 for a 1-year/6-issue subscription ($14.99 digital), 80 pages
Like Dogster, Catster is divided into seven sections. Each issue starts with Obsessions and Confessions. These two sections contain news, tips, as well as responses from readers to questions and polls. A few gave me ideas for future Lincoln Animal Ambassador articles. The next section, Help Wanted, actually contains some of my favorite articles in the magazine. Topics vary from inappropriate urination, making mealtimes more inviting, how to build a “cat palace” on a budget, and ways to keep your cat happy. The fourth section is Mind & Body, and the fifth section is Life with Cattitude. If you compare the table of contents to Dogster, you’ll notice that this is where the two magazines diverge. Instead of articles on how to engage your cat’s mind, the majority are about designing your cat’s environment. While I enjoy the articles, I’d prefer to see even more like the one about toys for cats. While dogs and cats are certainly different types of animals, cats have a lot of curiosity and intelligence and I wish magazines would recognize this. Who’s That Cat? is the shortest section, with just two breeds spotlighted in this issue. The final section, For the Love of Cats, includes articles about authors and their cats, cat heroes and cat rescues, quizzes, and product reviews. Like Dogster, Catster proved interesting and entertaining to read, and I’d be glad to read more issues.
Modern Cat | $5.95 per issue, $18 for a 1-year/2-issue subscription ($6.99 on iTunes), 80 pages
To my disappointment, Modern Cat runs only 80 pages, compare that to Modern Dog’s 120. Furthermore, while every other magazine I surveyed publishes at least four issues per year, Modern Cat only publishes two. Is there really so little to say about cats? Even worse, did you notice the messed up math? Magazines always offer a price-break to subscribers, but Modern Cat asks subscribers to pay fifty percent MORE. Well, let’s get to the content. The shortest sections in the magazine are The Goods, Breed Profile, and Body and Soul. The last contains only four articles, two of which are basically infographics; when it comes to health content, both Modern Cat and Modern Dog have room for improvement. The longest sections are Features and Living: as with Modern Dog, both sections contain a pleasing mix of short and long articles; unlike Modern Dog, there seems to be a more clear-cut division between the two sections. In the Fall-Winter 2015/2016 issue, the Living section contains inspiring stories about cats, giveaways, product reviews, and crafts. In contrast, the Features section provides information on cat personalities and how to harness aggression when introducing a new cat to your home, toys for your cat, and reasons to adopt senior cats. Unfortunately, just as with Modern Dog, the quality of the magazine’s content varied widely.. Modern Cat is a newer magazine than Catster, and perhaps over time its content will become more solid.
Your Cat | $8.95 per issue (Barnes and Noble), £66.80 for a 1-year/12-issue subscription (£19.99 on iTunes), 90 pages
Your Cat hails from England, contains five regular sections, and seems the most serious in content. In Every Issue is the shortest and lightest in fare: there’s news, reader responses, cat show news, and a Golden Oldie. The Features section provides the most how-to information: there’s information about how to keep your cat calm during firework season, as well as an article on how to clicker-train your cat. Caring for Cats features abundant stories about cat rescue. What stood out to me immediately is how much more international Your Cat feels. While rescue groups from England were highlighted, ones from Cyprus and Afghanistan also receive coverage. Finally, ten pages of Caring for Cats provides advice from experts. In the November 2015 issue, some topics include: how to handle a multi-pet household, a course in insects that can pose risk to cats, and information about a disease (Feline Pandora Syndrome) that most effects indoor cats. Kitten Corner offers a mix of light and serious—all specific to kittens! For example, there’s information on how to care for kittens, their cost, and even an ongoing series from a breeder’s perspective. And, whereas all other general audience magazines I surveyed ignore fiction, this magazine’s Curl Up & Read section offers multiple fictional cat stories. There are also essays and puzzles. The design isn’t as pretty as some other magazines, and I disagree with the magazine’s philosophy that cats are happiest outside, but Your Cat is one of my favorite pet magazines. However, note that because it’s published in England, it’s expensive to get in the U.S. You can pay $8.95 per issue at Barnes and Noble, or you can save about $10 by subscribing. Either way it will cost about $100 per year, but at least you get twelve issues for that price and not just four or six as with the other magazines I surveyed.
As an experienced dog owner, my favorite dog magazine was The Bark due to its eclectic content. If I was new to dog ownership, I’d probably be torn between Dogster and Modern Dog. The quality of the articles is similar in both magazines but, at a whopping 120 pages, the latter really does offer a lot of content. As a less-experienced cat owner, I am tempted by both Catster and Your Cat. Each magazines recognize that cats are intelligent creatures. Your Cat has the disadvantage of being expensive for those outside of Europe, but the perk of including international content and a section of fiction.
I’ll have more magazines to share with you in the future. Just this weekend another dog magazine arrived in the mail, and I’m waiting for samples of two more cat magazines. In the meantime, what have been your experiences with the magazines I reviewed? Are there ones you’ve read that I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments!