THE CATS OF LAMU by Jack Couffer


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A whimsical and surprisingly winning study of the cats indigenous to the Lamu Archipelago, a series of small islands off the coast of Kenya. Couffer (Bat Bomb: World War II’s Secret Weapon, etc.) argues that, due to their likely long isolation on the islands, these distinctivc-looking cats may be the closest living representatives of the wild breed that the Egyptians first domesticated some 4,000 years ago. That isn’t established here with any certainty, though it is true that the flocks of cats that haunt the beaches of the islands, waiting for the local fishing fleets to return, and that inhabit the islands mangrove swamps, do share with the cats represented in ancient Egypt a distinctive blend of long legs, a slim body, a long neck and a small head. Couffer, to the bafflement of Lamu’s Muslim population, spent his days closely following the extended groups of cats (he calls them “prides”) around, and he describes their intelligence and self-sufficiency with vigor and affection. His photographs capture with clarity and a sharp eye both the lives of these multicolored felines and the traditional rhythms and details of Lamu’s human inhabitants. (100 color and b&w photos)

Pub Date: June 30th, 1998
ISBN: 1-55821-675-8
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Lyons Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998