Friday, 10 February 2017

The Lion in the Livingroom - A Review

The mission statement of this book can be found in the description on the flyleaf “to better understand the furry strangers in our midst”.  Science writer Abigail Tucker does an admirable job but really, can anyone really understand cats?


Ms. Tucker, a cat lover herself, takes us on a masterful historic tour of the world of cats and how they came to be the most popular of pets the world over – or rather how they invaded our lives and homes to ingratiate themselves into our lives – making us not owners, but drooling love slaves.  If you are expecting a written version of a “cute cat you-tube” video BE WARNED, this book is anything but that.  In fact if I didn’t know better I would think this book was written to dissuade anyone from ever cohabitating with a feline.

Ms. Tucker takes her reader through the history of cats and how they, quite literally, domesticated (if that word can even be used in reference to cats) themselves and how they managed to travel the world over, sometimes much to the chagrin and detriment of local residents, both human and wildlife.  Yes, she tackles the ugly problem of cats, domestic and feral, and their negative impact on the wildlife in their vicinity. 

“Worldwide, house cats already outnumber dogs, their great rival for our affections, but as many as three to one, and their advantage is probably increasing.  The tally of pet cats in America rose by 50 percent between 1986 to 2006, and today approaches 100 million … Wild and tame, homebound and footloose, these cats increasingly preside over nature and culture, the concrete jungles and the real ones beyond … the house cat is the new king of beasts.”

Ms. Tucker seems to have a wide variety of scientists and researchers on speed dial and gives excellent insight into things such as the toxoplasma parasite and how it may have possible infected the human brain causes us to love our little fur-babies even more, why cats, despite the best efforts of humans manage to remain strong and plentiful in feral communities. 

From history to science, cats in literature to our obsession with cats on the internet, dogs vs. cats as pets and new specialty breeds such as rag dolls and werewolf cats Ms. Tucker has written a very comprehensive book that every cat owner/lover should read at some point.  You may not like everything you read but it is worth knowing.

While I believe Ms. Tucker has done very thorough research in writing this book I can not, because of personal experience with this amazing creature that is cat, quite bring myself to jump on the bandwagon of everything she has written … or course, that could be a touch toxoplasmosis talking?  Read the book – you’ll understand.

Despite my minor misgivings I am still rating this book at 5 stars.  Ms. Tucker managed to write a book jam-packed with information and make it a very enjoyable read that proves her flyleaf statement true “the correct reaction to a house cat isn’t ‘awwww’.  It’s awe.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

Abigail Tucker is a correspondent for Smithsonian magazine, where she covers a wide variety of subjects, from vampire anthropology to bioluminescent marine life to the archeology of ancient beer. Her work has been featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series and recognized by the National Academies of Sciences. Previously she was a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, where she won Columbia University’s Mike Berger Award for feature writing and a National Headliner award. The Lion in the Living Room is her first book.

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