The major competition to these companion volumes comes from Terri McGinnis' The Well Cat Book (p. 351) and The Well Dog Book (1974, p. 923). Although Norris (a veterinarian) and Schneck cover a lot of the same ground, their organization is geared to handy reference rather than to the intricacies of the subject. Under twelve broad headings (from general care of the cat/dog to ailments of various anatomical regions, kittening/whelping, and antidotes for common poisons) they list specific problems in alphabetical order. McGinnis, on the other hand, systematically introduces a great range of medical information on a much more ambitious scientific plane, before branching off to individual details. Which approach you prefer will depend on the amount of time and patience at your disposal. Norris and Schneck, although not in McGinnis' league in terms of completeness, conveniently cover most of the shocks that pets are heir to, from swallowed fishhooks and broken tails to mange and carsickness. Under the rubric of general care they provide dietary guides and sensible directions for taking the animal's pulse and temperature, administering pills (the instructions for dosing cats are much more elaborate and require an assistant), applying various bandages, transporting an accident victim. In the sections on birth and care of newborns, we were surprised to find no particular attention paid to the importance of accounting for all afterbirths (a retained placenta can be disastrous). Despite this omission, Norris and Schneck seem generally reliable, thorough, and laudably free from the chummy condescension that afflicts a lot of animal-care literature. ""Next to sheer ignorance,"" they announce, ""anthropomorphism is probably the second-ranking cause of improper home medical treatment"" for both cats and dogs. Their briskly impersonal manner is a welcome corrective.