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.