A cat lover blends his personal experiences with research in this attempt to help us better understand our feline pets.
McNamee (The Killing of Wolf Number 10, 2014, etc.), the author of several natural history books, wrote this book after winning a Guggenheim fellowship. He opens with a story about Augusta, a little black kitten that had been abandoned and found her way to his door in the middle of any icy Montana winter. The author lovingly describes her antics as well as her death by euthanasia some 15 years later. In between, McNamee turns to the work of others to explore the human-cat relationship, the way cats communicate, and their quirky behavior and how it is shaped by their wildness. He also looks at the problem of feral cats—he reports that they kill billions of birds in the United States every year—and how colonies of them are handled in different cities around the world. There’s a bit of history of cats in ancient Egypt and China, but clearly McNamee is interested in the present. While not intended to be a how-to manual, the book is full of advice on the care of pet cats, dealing with topics such as litter boxes, food, discipline, and diseases. In a bow to experts, McNamee reprints a copy of “Five Pillars of a Healthy Feline Environment” and a veterinarian’s quality-of-life scale to help cat owners make end-of-life decisions. Footnotes abound, sometimes a half dozen to a page, and helpful websites and recommended book titles are cited in the text. The author does not hesitate to warn readers about some bad cat books, and he has cautionary words about cat behaviorists—that field, apparently, is largely unregulated.
An affectionate yet realistic portrait of felis silvestris catus and a definite boon to anyone contemplating adopting a cat.