Science & Nature Cat Sense by John Bradshaw | Review Roundup | The Omnivore

Published on August 26th, 2013


Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Explained by John Bradshaw

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Blurb: From John Bradshaw, one of the world’s leading experts on animal behaviour, and the author of the Sunday Times Bestseller, In Defence of DogsCat Sense is a scientific portrait of the true, surprising nature of cats.

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Worshipped as gods, feared as demonic servants, seen as both wild opportunists and beloved companions, cats often seem as unfathomable, enigmatic and magical to us today as they did in ancient times. They have lived with humans for at least ten thousand years (far earlier than the reign of the Pharaohs), and today are the most popular pet in the world. That they now outnumber the dog, man’s ‘best friend’, by three to one, is small wonder: at once affectionate and self-reliant, they seem to be perfectly suited to our busy 21st Century lifestyles. Yet cats still think like the wild scavengers and hunters from which they are descended – and to which they can quickly revert. Today, they face unprecedented challenges in their life with humans: from conservationists who cast them as a threat to wildlife; from other cats who they compete for territory with; and from good-intentioned owners and vets with misconceptions of what they require.

Cats need not so much our sympathy, but our understanding, if they are to continue to enjoy our companionship. The recent surge in feline science – with John Bradshaw at the forefront – means we are now better equipped to understand them than ever before. Cat Sense offers us for the first time a true picture of one of humanity’s closest and most enigmatic companions.

(Allen Lane, 2013)

Tom Cox, The Observer 

“Even though the core of the book is scientific and factual, and the style is often (necessarily) dry, Bradshaw’s concern and love for cats shines through: for their future, as somewhat redundant predators, for the physical damage being done to them by pedigree breeders, and for their happiness, on a day-to-day level. You could buy a dozen books by the many cat whisperers, cat gurus and cat therapists that exist in our feline-obsessed modern world, but their accumulated wisdom would probably not help you understand your cats – where they’ve come from, what they want from you, and where they might be going, if we’re not careful – as well as Cat Sense.”

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Steven Poole, The Guardian 

“Inveterate cat-haters, those defective humans, probably won’t appreciate this book, but anyone else might. It is written in a friendly and engaging way, has helpful tips for cat owners, and is packed with excellent cat facts. Why, you might have wondered, do cats get stuck up trees? Because all their claws face forwards, so none can be used as brakes on the descent.”

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Lynne Truss, The Times 

“What makes Bradshaw’s book so valuable is his positive thinking. How can we make the cat less anxious? How can we help? … It has to be said that Bradshaw is not afraid of repeating himself, and that the way he draws attention to the current gaps in knowledge is monotonous (“Science has yet to reveal”, “Biologists are uncertain”, “Scientists do not understand”) … But this remains a mind-altering book. And whenever you feel that the science is getting a bit heavy, there is a delightful illustration of (say) “Kitten Inviting Play Using Vertical Stance” that reminds you instantly why you care.”

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James McConnachie, The Sunday Times 

“… rich in scientific research and historical anecdote … Cat owners mostly believe that their pets look after themselves fairly well, so Bradshaw may not find an audience as avid as the one he found for dogs. It is a pity. This is a more entertaining book, written in a more relaxed style. It also shows, convincingly, that cat owners are wrong: we shape our cats’ lives far more than we think. And, it seems, we often make them pretty miserable.”

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