Ask Alexandra – September 2008

Question #1:

Hi Alexandra,

I want to tell you that while I really admire you alot, I am actually a big fan of your sisters. I read her book “fighting fire” when it first came out. It really inspired me, I am so thankful that there are women like her who are willing to risk there lives to save others, and to show the world that women can be heroes too!! I just wanted you to know that.

Now on to my question. My roommate and I have taken in a injured young cat we found on one of our walks. It looked like he had maybe gotten into a fight with another cat or a dog. We took him to a vet and thankfully all he had was a few bites and scrapes. My roommate says that as soon as he is completely healed we need to have him declawed so that he won’t destroy our stuff. I’ve never owned a cat before and I know alot of people do this to there cats, the vet says he does it all the time. Maybe I am just being overly sinsitive but I am really having a hard time thinking about what to do. I know you are an animal rights person. I just wondered what your thoughts are and have you ever had any of your cats declawed.

Thanks, Kristen

Hi Kristen,

I am so glad you enjoyed Caroline’s first book, Fighting Fire. Check out her website at to learn more about her, her exploits and her writing. I am a big fan of her also!

It is wonderful that you and your roommate have taken in an injured animal. There is, by the way, no such thing as being “overly sensitive” when it comes to protecting animals from suffering, and it is wonderful that you are prioritizing the wellbeing of a living creature rather than the state of your upholstery. I have never declawed any of my cats, because I have been told that it is like getting your fingernails taken off. But don’t take my word for it, do some research- talk to your vet about what the declawing procedure is, and what the recovery and side effects are. This is an informative page:

There are ways to prevent cats from clawing the furniture: the best one I hear is the spray gun technique, where every time you catch your cat clawing where you don’t want him to, you surreptitiously spray him with water. He mustn’t know that it is you who are spraying him: he must believe it is coming from out of nowhere, an act of God so to speak, otherwise he will continue to do it when you are not home. Always have several cat scratchers around the house for her, however, as clawing is a natural instinct to keep the nails sharp. That site above has more suggestions on how to stop your cat from clawing the furniture.

Our cat, Hallie, claws the furniture and it is irritating (I have trained her so badly that she doesn’t even realize she is doing something I don’t want her to do), but I have come to accept that she is sooo much more important to me than the fabric on my furniture.

Thank you for writing! I am always happy to hear from people trying to do the right thing.


Question #2:

Hi Alexandra,

You made a documentary about bamboo flooring that you promoted or used for your home several years ago. If I may ask which documentary was that so that I can download & watch it again.



Dear Melvin,

I am so glad you are interested in bamboo floors, which are much better for the environment than wood floors, because bamboo grows so quickly and therefore is a resource that is easily replaced. I have, however, never done a documentary about bamboo floors, although I have done many interviews on tv in which I discussed ours and why we chose bamboo over other flooring options. I did produce and host 2 educational films called Jampacked (on human overpopulation) and The Cost of Cool (about materialism), which can be purchased online. You will also find excerpts from each video on this site.

Thank you for your interest!


Question #3:


Hey, How you doin’? I’m involved with swimming a little bit myself. How did you get into that and do you have a favorite stroke? I’m also wondering if there’s at least one sport you haven’t done that you’d like to one day, whether it’s boxing or karate or something else.

Thanks and Sincerely,


Dear Al,

I started swimming when I was 5 or 6, in the lake where we lived in Connecticut. Cornwall was (and still is) a rural town of 1200 people (, and swimming at Cream Hill Lake was one of the many outdoorsy things kids did for fun. My summers were spent almost entirely at that lake, when I wasn’t riding bikes with my twin and our best friend Judith. Caroline, my brother, Jonathan, and I all started swimming on the summer swim team at age 7 until we were16. Caroline was very fast in backstroke and freestyle, and I was the best in breaststroke and butterfly. The butterfly was my favorite stroke, and Caroline and I would cross the lake and back (1 ½ miles) doing the butterfly without stopping (it was a languid butterfly, which made it possible to go so far doing that difficult stroke. When done correctly, it can be very relaxing). I don’t do the butterfly anymore because of a bad lower back, and now I mainly do the freestyle when I swim.

Caroline and my husband, Ian, are both surfers, and we have a home near some great surfing. I took lessons when I was in Hawaii a few years ago, but I have never clicked with it here in the colder, rougher California waters. I would like to enjoy it more so I can share the experience with them. Ian is an excellent windsurfer, and although I tried it a few times before I met him, I would like to do it again with him.

Keep up the swimming!


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