To Read Is to Fly

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” 
― Alberto Manguel

 

You can also find me on Goodreads and LibraryThing.

Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet - John W.S. Bradshaw This is essentially three books in one: a summary of archaeological and DNA evidence tracing when cats were first domesticated, and attempting to determine the origins of our domesticated cats today; an analysis of the author's experiments to determine links between cat behavior (and best practices in cat ownership) and what Bradshaw refers to as feline science, largely drawn from behavioral psychology; and a more polemical discussion of some controversies surrounding cats today. These controversies include the attempts of wildlife advocates (often in the UK) to restrict cats' behavior as predators from endangering local wildlife populations, as well as a discussion of concerns about how current breeding practices may bring out cats' less domestic instincts and imperil their position as pets.

I found the focus of this book to be somewhat problematic. It's written for general audiences, but includes very basic (and often overly general) summaries of academic research, sometimes without footnotes for sources information in the first part of a book. Bradshaw relies heavily on his own research in the second part of the book, which makes his discussions rather one-sided. I understand not including information in experimental design and methodology given his audience, but as an academic I couldn't help but wonder how much weight to put on these experiments as sources of information.

As a proud owner of two cats, I agree entirely with Bradshaw that it's incumbent on owners to understand cats from their own perspectives, and that an understanding of their genetic makeup, evolution, and instincts helps enormously with this process. However, I found this a rather frustrating read for the reasons I mentioned above. It seems like an unwieldy cross between a book for a general audience and a book based on academic research.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Currently reading

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan
Rafia Zakaria
About Women: Conversations Between a Writer and a Painter
Lisa Alther
The Relic Master: A Novel
Christopher Buckley
Limonov
John Lambert, Emmanuel Carrère
Tourists with Typewriters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing
Patrick Holland, Graham Huggan
Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World (Material Texts)
Benjamin Schmidt
Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present
Christian Sahner
Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul
Charles King
In Light of Another's Word: European Ethnography in the Middle Ages
Shirin A. Khanmohamadi
Intimate Outsiders: The Harem in Ottoman and Orientalist Art and Travel Literature
Mary Roberts