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The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats [Hardcover]

Jeffrey Masson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Nov 2002
Many people believe that cats do not have an emotional life, that they are cold and indifferent. Jeffrey Masson, author of several bestselling books about animal emotions, including When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love, is convinced that, on the contrary, cats are almost pure emotion. Masson lives by the sea in New Zealand with five cats, and in this fascinating, immensely readable book he reports on his close observations of their emotional lives. These he divides into nine categories - Narcissism, Love, Contentment, Attachment, Jealousy, Fear, Anger, Curiosity and Playfulness - and to each of which he devotes a chapter. Masson's bond with his cats is extraordinary - they accompany him every night on his evening walk along the shore - and he believes that with no other animal is it easier and more enchanting to cross the species barrier.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; First Printing edition (14 Nov 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022406973X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224069731
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 901,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Publisher

The bestselling author of Dogs Never Lie About Love turns his attention to cats and their emotions.

About the Author

Jeffrey Masson was Projects Director of the Sigmund Freud Archives, and wrote the controversial books Freud; The Assault on Truth, Against Therapy and Final Analysis. His books on animals and their emotions are When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie About Love and The Emperor's Embrace. He lives with his wife Leila, their son Ilan, and five cats, in Auckland, New Zealand.

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The frustrated woman in The New Yorker cartoon who asks the cat on her chair, "Am I talking to myself?" Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"The nine emotional lives of cats" is one of the best books, if not absolutely the best, that I've ever read about cats' psyche and behaviour. The author recognizes and lists nine basic emotions in cats (hence the title) and proceeds to analyzing each one of them deeply, reporting both previous studies and his personal observations of his own five cats. Throughout all the book, the language is clear and simple, the anecdotes funny and extremely revealing. The author shows a very delicate and sensitive attitude towards cats: he not only studies them, he strives to understand them, often suggesting various reasons behind feline behaviours. It really makes you think. Cats are depicted as the extremely emotionally complex creatures they actually are, though often we humans, being "social animals", are at a loss at comprehending them. I personally own three cats, and reading this book has provided me both with answers and with new curiosities to investigate and think upon, which is precisely what I think a really good book should do.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hard to put down 22 Mar 2003
By A Customer
In my opinion this book matches the success of his previous book 'Dogs never lie about love'. Mason provides a charming and sometimes humerous insight into the world of domestic cats based on hs own experience, while managing to refrain from anthropomorphism. Definitely worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats 17 Sep 2011
An interesting read but having been a cat owner for many years and currently have three, I had to disagree with many of the authors conclusions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks credibility 12 Feb 2008
By Al
After a promising start the book loses its way and is overcome with more and more rambling & waffling.

It cites a number of "facts" which are totally incorrect. OK, the author is a cat lover rather than a cat expert, but he should check his facts before committing them to print. Some of them are so far off track that I would seriously question whether the author really has as much experience of cats as he claims.

Some of the anecdotes are also a little hard to believe, for instance the author claims that his 5 cats follow him whenever he leaves the house to go anywhere. Some cats do have a tendancy to do this, but all 5 cats following him every time he goes out without fail is a bit hard to believe.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So-so 25 Sep 2003
By Wombat - Published on
The plus side.... I found it an engaging read, and it did make me study my three cats more than I normally do. I like his assessments that there are more to cats then what we see on a surface view, and I agreed with most of the emotions listed and how they manifest themselves. The writing style was well done, and I liked the contemplative style of his prose.
The negative side... The author does not seem to realize that most of us do not live in rural beaches and rain forests, and for the vast majority of cats out there, the environment outside is hostile to small domestic animals. I am a volunteer in a cat shelter, and have been the unfortunate witness to many a bad situation caused by owners wanting their cats to be able to run free. I found it surprising that someone who was so anti-declawing (which I applaud) could be so naive as to the perils outside. Cats and toddlers alike may yearn to run into the street, but it doesn't mean those who are responsible for them should allow them to do so. I suppose it is not surprising; after all, it came from an author who was willing to give away a cat who had gotten somewhat cranky in middle age, as well as one who seems nonchalant at the end that his wandering cats were no longer spending their nights at home. But for someone who is truly concerned about their cat's welfare, the casual attitude was a bit hard to swallow. I am hoping that his current cats do not end up getting squished by a car like he admits the rest of them had in California.
Buy the book? No. But it might be worth checking out at the library.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time 1 Nov 2004
By Amy Henry - Published on
Unfortunately, I did purchase this book as a guide to understanding my cat better. I guess I should have realized it would only help understand the author's cats better. Purely anecdotal accounts, no real expertise or science to his assertions. That may sound like no big deal, but realistically, every cat owner has a cute little story about their cat and an opinion about what they are thinking. So I was hoping this would go beyond his cute little cat stories. Frankly, by the third section, everything he said was running together, as there were no real main points presented. Also, I found it tiring to hear him talk about himself so much. Even his cats don't get full focus in this book, it's mostly him and his swims and walks on the beach. I wanted some depth and got a shallow swim with this one.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This guy knows little about cats 31 Dec 2002
By A Customer - Published on
I have been a multiple cat owner all of my life and was hoping this would be an inciteful read given the author's previous popular works - what a disappointment. His assessment of cats personalities is elementary, and loaded with generalizations. Cats personalities vary widely and you cannot write a book based on spending 1 year with kittens, particularly the exotic breeds that he has. He states the obvious as if it was a revelation (i.e. cats ancestors are naturally solitary hunters which he states over and over again as rationale for his opinions) - DUH!! He rambles quite a bit in each chapter and sometimes contradicts opinion from one chapter to the next. Some stuff was out an out wrong (i.e. "All cats immediately warm up to humans but not to their own species" - say WHAT?). About the only thing I liked were his opinions on declawing, and agreement that cats would prefer to be free to roam. But thats just not possible for many these days - and to say that cats who cannot are not truly happy is an ego stroke to the author (who lives in New Zealand where his cats can roam - I doubt he moved there for his cats sake).
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Emotional Lives of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's Cats 2 Mar 2003
By Erik Naggum - Published on
This is not the book about cats that it wants to be. The acclaimed author is uncomfortably personal and intrusive and manages to be in the way like a young father too proud of his new video camera to just tape his children at play. To budding authors, this book could serve as a warning: What can go wrong when you become too famous for your own good and you believe your audience will find you as interesting as you find yourself. Who cares whether the author is a personal friend of other authors? A good editor will help (read: force) an eager and proud writer to remove himself from his treatment of the topic and make it interesting to people who have no interest in the author, and this is more important the more famous the author. Nancy Miller is acknowledged with editing this book, but it is depressingly unedited. The author is also a "provocative psychoanalyst", but there is no evidence of a scholastic aptitude here. To make matters worse, a childhood encounter with a narcissistic literary critic is only related on page 6, not learned from: That paragraph describes how the entire book feels to the reader. Do look inside the book.
However, if you tolerate the author and want to snuggle up with your cat and him for company, it may be an OK book to read a chapter from each night, as it is both charming and sometimes amusing, but if you intend to study or just learn about the presumed emotional lives of cats, forget it. This reviewer believes that cats communicate with us the same way music does, directly to our emotions before thought can intervene, and sought more information on the emotional bond between cat and human. Since Doris Lessing learned from this book and Desmond Morris found it thought-provoking, perhaps the gems they found were on the very next page, but the book merely ran out of pages. To make matters worse, it does not conclude, it ends with an epilogue, to confirm the impression that the book is not about the emotional lives of cats, but about the author and his too brief fascination for his too many too young cats. Like a term paper handed in with the tacit assumption that reader and writer know and accept a purpose outside of the text, the question "why should I care?" is as unanswered as it is unasked.
There are anywhere from 12 to 15 different emotions crammed into the "nine lives" that double as chapters, which is much too cute to be convenient, much less insightful: Narcissism, Love, Contentment, Attachment, Jealousy, Fear, Anger, Curiosity, Playfulness. If you have taken an active part in a cat's life for a year, you know more about all of these than this book can offer.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a decent book about the author's cats 27 Mar 2003
By Joe Sherry - Published on
I cannot remember where I heard of this book, but it seemed like an interesting enough topic to read about, so I decided to pick it up from the library. Some reviewers have commented on the lack of hard science involved in this book. I wasn't expecting any. This is a book on the observable emotions of cats and the examples used are the 5 young cats of the author. As would be expected, the book contains the author's prejudices regarding his cats and how they should live and behave. As such, this is a fairly interesting book.
The book deals with nine emotions: Narcissism, Love, Contentment, Attachment, Jealousy, Fear, Anger, Curiosity, and Playfulness. Each of these are granted a chapter (or to be more accurate, a section) in the book. I do own a cat (he is 10 months at the time I write this), but I am not familiar with a lot of the feline emotions. The insight provided in this book can be obtained simply be observing cats for extended periods of time, but it is interesting to have it all in one place. It must be stressed, however, the Masson does not do extensive research (though he is well read). Most of the information provided comes from the author's observance of his 5 cats.
Masson stresses that cats cannot be happy unless they have the opportunity to freely wander outside. This may or may not be true, but for most people not living on a beach in New Zealand in a very safe neighborhood, this just is not an option. We provide the best life possible for our cats, but sometimes the cat can only be an indoors cat and I do not feel that my cat is living a horrible life.
The author is well-intentioned in writing this book, but we should not assume that everything he says is exactly correct. Our own observations will give us the truth of Masson's statements.
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