Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Review: Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John W.S. Bradshaw

I do love kitties. Every day poor Turkey gets "hug punished" because he's just so darn cute (I think it's a hug, he thinks it's punishment.) And so my husband got me this book that promised to teach me about how cats work.

Mr. Bradshaw goes back to how cats were domesticated, where and when and why. It's a bit more than I needed, spending multiple chapters in Ancient Egypt and other areas of the Middle East and comparing one breed of wild cat to another. But it does give you the background information you need to truly understand (as best we can) why cats are the way they are. Unlike dogs, cats mostly domesticated themselves. And unlike dogs, we've rarely been much for breeding them. That's a big problem. The cute cats who are genial and fun and snuggly (like our cats) are spayed and neutered and don't pass those awesome genes along. Most of the cats who breed are the feral or wild cats, who are much less likely to have the right temperament to be pets. And this is not a good time for pet cats to be getting less friendly, because they are recently under siege from bird lovers and others who dislike their propensity for bringing home "presents." It's only been in the last 50 years that we suddenly want cats to spend all their lives inside and to not hunt, so we're asking them to make a couple of huge adjustments in a very short period of time, without breeding for it.

But it turns out your cat is smart. Probably never can figure out how to use tools, but can figure out how to open a door handle and are pretty darn smart for how small their brains are. They amount of stuff they can smell is astonishing (and they even have a secondary smelling method you might sometimes see, when they are smelling with their mouth open. That's mostly male cats smelling for female cats.) But their future is somewhat uncertain. Still, I think the author might be overblowing that situation (and he is British which does impact this, as there's a lot more of an anti-cat movement there and in Australia). After all, there are more pet cats than any other kind of cat. But bird people, please stop freaking out so much. With cats being kept inside more and more, they're probably killing less birds than they ever had before. The feral cats might be, but regulating pet cats more harshly won't impact feral cats at all. (And some of us cat people like birds too,)

Overall, an interesting read, but a tad more technical than I was hoping for.

My husband bought this book at Fiction Addiction, the independent bookstore in Greenville, SC.

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