Cat Sense (Review)

I’m reviewing an older book today because I have recently fallen under the spell of a particular cat.  This spring, my sister was given a one month old female Tuxedo cat.  As happens with many people, I was smitten by a kitten.  The little fur ball was very active and hyper, she liked to perch herself on my shoulders and purr into my ears.  Who could resist?  We named her “Random Kitty” after an Internet cat that has a similar behavior pattern.

As Random has grown, her hyper-activity has increased and she has turned into a biter and scratcher.  We’ve gotten plenty of unsolicited and solicited advise, little of which has been helpful.  So, I decided to check out the stacks at the Norfolk (Nebraska) Public Library, whereupon I discovered John Bradshaw’s Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet.

Bradshaw’s premise is that knowing more about felines, as a species, will enable us to provide both cat and human a more fulfilling relationship.  As a reader who enjoys history and backstory, I liked the chapters devoted to feline evolution and domestication.  The background helped explain why cats may relieve themselves outside the litter box or sometimes bring home a dead mouse.

The fact that it was the Vikings who introduced the orange tabby to the British Isles a millenium ago was amusing to this redheaded reader. Ginger Toms and I have an affinity towards one another.  bradshaw-john---cat-sense-alan-peters--1

Bradshaw’s inclusion of cats’ senses provides some helpful information about how we can make our homes more cat-friendly.  Felines process visual images more quickly than humans. Because of this, conventional cathode ray teevees and monitors plus fluorescent lights appear as constant flickering to cats.  As you would expect, this effect makes rooms with those gadgets turned on, miserable to cats.  Maybe, though, this partially explains why some cats enjoyed watching old-technology televisions. Maybe more research is needed on the effects of LED lighting and screens on cats, too.

Like dogs, cats hear ultrasounds very well.  They can apparently differentiate species of rodents by the type of squeaks they make.  Similarly, a cat’s sense of smell is very keen.  Not only do cats use it to hunt, but also in marking and detecting territory.  Bradshaw reiterates where scent glands are located on a cat’s body and why felines rub and push against objects, other cats, and people.

CatSense-03When I first brought the book home, I skipped ahead to Chapter 8, “Cats and Their People”. This provides some of the information I have been searching for to help guide Random Kitty into more mellow behavior.

Bradshaw writes about how we can help these historically adept hunting creatures adapt to the restrictive indoor environment of a house or apartment.  Our domestic cats are specialized hypercarnivores that obtain most essential nutrients from animal products almost exclusively. Cats need to be kept busy to avoid boredom.  A helpful sidebar box provides tips for the cat owner about how to do this.

I understand cats a little bit better since reading Cat Sense.  Hopefully, this new knowledge will help me intuit how to improve the relationships with all the many felines I know, especially the one with Random Kitty.

John Bradshaw is Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol, UK. He studies the interactions between animals and human beings. He is also the author of the best-selling book, Dog Sense.

{ Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw; 336 pages published September 10, 2013 by Basic Books; ISBN:  978-0-465-03101-6 }

J 7-1-01The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes John Bradshaw. “Cats need to meow because we humans are generally so unobservant.”


About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, cultural highlights, History, Science, Wildlife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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