The first scientific look at the world of cats: why they do what they do, why they are what they are and how they got to be that way in the first place. Unlike every other domestic animal, the cat evolved as a solitary animal, not a group-dweller. A cat in a household is almost literally a fish out of water. That cats can nonetheless get along with people and (sometimes) other cats when forced to, is testimony to a remarkable adaptability. But it also makes for an extraordinary range of behaviours. Cats have for years been the subjects of intensive research in the fields of developmental psychology, learning, emotions, brain chemistry, and perception. THE CHARACTER OF CATS is the first popular book to bring this knowledge to bear on the behaviour and nature of cats. Budiansky enables us to see that many of the things that puzzle and at times baffle or even infuriate cat owners have a rational - though often very surprising - explanation in science.
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(197mm x 131mm x 17mm)
Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
If your instinct on seeing this title is to mutter, 'Great - just what the world needs, another cat book', think again. Budiansky's book is much better than most of the genre, being both well-written and full of interesting information that you almost certainly didn't know before. Most of the time he even manages to avoid that fey conceit, beloved of writers on the subject, that tries to imply that the cat really is a superior kind of being which occasionally bestows upon us lucky humans the honour of looking after it. Budiansky has made a bit of a specialism of writing about animals, his previous books including the titles The Truth About Dogs, The Nature of Horses and If a Lion Could Talk. Practice clearly makes perfect, because this is a very good, and very accessible, account of the subject. Budiansky starts with a short account of how cats came to be domesticated, at the same time demolishing some popular myths about cats, such as the idea that ancient Egypt was a 'golden age' for the domestic cat, or that cats were persecuted by the Church in mediaeval times. He goes on, in clear and engaging prose, to make a case for the uniqueness of the cat: cats may be domesticated, but unlike dogs, they are very difficult to train, because they are largely indifferent to rewards and punishments and don't regard humans as having a particular authority. He also answers questions such as: how do cats get their different colours? Are cats as intelligent as dogs? Why do cats sometimes attack their owners? There has been a surprisingly large amount of laboratory research on cat behaviour, so the often unexpected answers to these questions are based on solid evidence. Cat lovers will learn a great deal from a book that explains so much about this beguiling and mysterious animal. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Stephen Budiansky
Stephen Budiansky - scientist, author, journalist and cat lover - is a correspondent for the ATLANTIC MONTHLY. He has written about science and nature for numerous publications including THE ECONOMIST, SCIENCE and THE NEW YORK TIMES. He lives with his wife and two children on a small farm in Virginia.