Bradshaw starts his story of the domesticated cat by taking us back to 10,000 or so years ago, explaining that probably the relationship between man and cat began when humans started to store food, thus requiring rodent control. He discusses the ongoing genetic links between domestic and wild cats and suggests what steps may have taken place over the history of the cat to lead to today's level of domestication. He regularly informs us that his views are often no more than educated guesswork, since far less research has been done on the cat than the dog.
In the last few chapters, Bradshaw discusses the place of the domestic cat in today's world, suggesting that the cat will have to change if it wishes to survive in an increasingly urbanised society where many people see cats as wildlife-murdering pests. He points out that most pet cats, especially males, are neutered before breeding (with the exception of pedigrees) and that this may have the unintended consequence of demand for kittens being met by rescued feral litters or by mating between wild males and domestic unneutered females. He proposes that in fact cats should be bred carefully for personality and trained to live happily, either as indoor cats or as non-hunting outdoor cats. He makes valid points about the lack of territory available to each cat in an overcrowded world and about the increased levels of anxiety this can cause.
While there is a lot of interesting stuff in here, there are a couple of things that prevent me wholeheartedly recommending the book. I found the presentation of the first section about the history of the cat quite dry and often repetitive - it may be of more interest to someone with a scientific interest in the subject, but for this casual cat-loving reader there was too much concentration on genetics, while there was little new in the tale of how the cat became a domestic pet.
The second section was more interesting to me, but here I found I disagreed fundamentally with the thrust of his argument - that we should be trying to breed cats to be more domesticated. He makes the point himself that cat owners love them because of their independence and relatively easy care, while suggesting that that independence should be bred out of them and that they should be subjected to intensive training. I would suggest that, in that case, might as well get a dog. As someone who's not very keen on selective breeding of any (domestic) animal, I was also uneasy about messing with the breeding to produce something that would really end up looking like a cat but not behaving like one. If we as a race decide cats are not suited to our environment (and I don't accept that) then surely better to stop keeping cats rather than to play god. When one considers some of the horrors that selective breeding has produced in both dogs and cats, can we really want to go further down that route?
So Bradshaw's assumption that this is the way to go meant that instead of, as I had expected, giving us advice on how to make sure our existing cats are well cared for, in fact he seemed to be suggesting the demise of the cat as we know it to be replaced with designer Stepford Cats. A reasonably interesting read but, for me, more of a warning of why scientists should never be allowed out without a bell on their collar than a convincing argument for the future of the moggie.
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.
There is always this sort of competition between dog and cat lovers. Who are better creatures? What are their characteristics and how sometimes they grow to define their owners is also very interesting to note. We want to know more about the pets we own and yet somehow we do not have the time to get to know more about them and why they behave the way they do.
"Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Revealed" by John Bradshaw is an insightful book into cats and how they have come to me from ages ago. Cats have always been under-researched. This topic has always intrigued me (though I am a dog-lover throughout) and I have always wanted to know more about these enigmatic creatures and their behaviour. "Cat Sense" is also not surprisingly a BBC series, which must be watched after you finish reading this wondrous book.
"Cat Sense" speaks of cats right from the beginning. From the history of domestication of cats, to how their senses are different and what makes them act the way they do, to drawing on the social life of cats - which to me was the most interesting part in the entire book.
What John also does is let some mysteries about cats be and not delve too much into them. Bradshaw also tackles his subject as being a certified Anthrozoologist for over thirty years. He writes sharply and draws from his experience with cats which adds that much needed personal touch to the book.
The snippets of information and trivia are worth noting more so if you are a cat lover. Bradshaw also touches on the most misconceived notion of cats being selfish creatures and demystifies it for the reader. I have a lot of friends who are cat lovers and I know for one that I would be telling them to read this book, which they will cherish and love as much as I did.
Like all cats lovers I am constantly on the lookout for a definitive book which contains everything I need to know about the enigmatic creature who shares my home.
John Bradshaw's interesting and entertaining book goes a long way to satisfy my curiosity and has some really interesting snippets of information. The book is divided into well ordered chapters which cover cats in all walks of life, from the feral hordes who have to scavenge for survival, through to the pampered and cosseted world of the adored domestic feline. The chapters are many and varied and begin by covering the history of the cat and cat archaeology before going into more specific detail about the domestication of the cat and the way in which we humans fit into the cat's world. There are also some lovely black and white drawings interspersed amongst the narrative and lots of useful diagrams and charts.
The author has a real fondness for the feline and has used his skill and knowledge to good effect and has produced a book which is entertaining but which is also informative and a real delight to read.
Had pet cats since I was 3 yrs old then 4 year break but recently given a home to a cat who was dumped so the perfect time to have more in depth knowledge as he settles. A good read even for someone who does not like cats will give more understanding.. So if you have an anti cat friend recommend as I doubt they would even glance at this book online or on a shelf.