SASHA'S TAIL by Jacqueline Damian


Lessons from a Life with Cats
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 While many of the cat topics explored here are familiar, journalist Damian brings a sharp perspective and supple prose to the many mysteries of feline behavior. Centering the book primarily on the three male cats currently sharing her Pennsylvania country home--dominant Sasha, easygoing Charcoal, and feisty newcomer Tigger--Damian shares her observations on many subjects: how cats use body language, such as tail postures, to express themselves; why cats tend to go in and out of the house so often; how cats establish outdoor territories and indoor hierarchies; the significance of play and play-fighting; and the various methods cats employ to get humans to adopt them. As to this last subject, says Damian, some cats ``move in like squatters and never leave,'' some are rescue cases with ``a hard- luck story to tell,'' and some get adopted ``because of their spunk...and charm'' and because of a mutual validation that occurs when they single out a person and make that person feel special. Coming to terms with her cats' powerful hunting instincts, Damian posits that rather than harming the environment by killing so many small creatures, her cats may actually be helping by ``compensating, in the grand scheme of things, for the decline in wild predators'' such as owls and foxes. She hypothesizes that cats triumphantly bring home their catches in ``an effort at communication--as a primitive form of language,'' in the same manner as when something significant happens to a person who then feels compelled to tell someone else about it. In the final chapter, ``Copycat,'' Damian puts forth her contention that kittens raised in homes with other cats are better adjusted (and friendlier) than those raised without feline company. Just as ``children mimic their they grope toward a definition of self,'' says Damian, ``this is no less true in animal societies.'' A philosophical but lively and absorbing look at the lifestyles of the domesticated house cat. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-393-03731-2
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995