The Lion in the Living Room


I love cats. I’ll admit that my cat Bruce is a bit of an asshole. He is mischievous, hates being touched, and I suspect he gets his toys stuck under the fridge just to see me have to work to get them out. When we feel a little philosophical, my boyfriend and I discuss why we even keep such ungrateful pets as cats. (Of course, he just adopted one for himself last week who, thankfully, is much sweeter than Bruce.) Thinking that this book could provide fuel for our debates, I picked it up. My verdict? Give this one a pass, cat lovers.

The book started out with promise. The first few chapters really get into what I wanted to know and what I expected the book to be about. The author talks about the domestication of cats and the history of interactions between early humans and house cat ancestors. About halfway through the book it feels like the author loses sight of her topic though. She spends a whole chapter talking about toxoplasmosis which amounts to nothing new (that I didn’t already know, anyway) and really loses focus on cats themselves. In fact, the chapter could even serve to perpetuate a fear of cats. She spends another chapter on purebreds, but the chapter focuses a strange amount of pages on one new breed of purebred cat. What does this one breed have to do with anything? No idea. She goes on to talk about feral cat TNR (trap, neuter, release/return) and how useless it supposedly is. I simply disagree. Even if TNR does not make a significant impact in the cat population, it does more than doing nothing. It’s not like she offers any other population control options either, but she is quick to mention the piles of euthanized cats every morning at a local shelter. To top it off, the final chapter is about internet cats. While that chapter does drive home the point that cats are integral in our culture today, it focuses more of the science of memes than cats.

For an author who claims to love cats, Tucker’s writing caries a lot of negativity. Putting everything I have already mentioned aside, she portrays cat advocates as almost cult-like. When giving examples of how much cat owners bend over backwards for their felines, she also uses the most extreme examples of cat ownership to make her points. I will admit that Tuckers makes some good points. She talks about the damage free roaming cats can do to native populations of small mammals and birds. Cats are a destructive and invasive species in many places; it’s true. It is clear that she has done her research and has interviewed many people in various fields to come to her findings. She mentions that many people go crazy when someone bad mouths a beloved species. Maybe I am just another person who is getting riled up when faced with the truth about my beloved pets. However, if you want a book that really tells you about the rise of the house cat and its history with humans, I do not think this is the best choice.

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