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    Cat Sense How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet


    内容提示: C AT SENSE9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page i 9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page ii C AT S E N S EYHow the New Feline ScienceCan Make You a BetterFriend to Your PetJohn BradshawA MEMBER OF THE PERSEUS BOOKS GROUPNew York9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page iii Copyright © 2013 by John BradshawPublished by Basic Books,A Member of the Perseus Books GroupAll rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may...

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    C AT SENSE9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page i 9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page ii C AT S E N S EYHow the New Feline ScienceCan Make You a BetterFriend to Your PetJohn BradshawA MEMBER OF THE PERSEUS BOOKS GROUPNew York9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page iii Copyright © 2013 by John BradshawPublished by Basic Books,A Member of the Perseus Books GroupAll rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may bereproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case ofbrief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, please addressBasic Books, 250 West 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10107.Books published by Basic Books are available at special discounts for bulk purchases inthe United States by corporations, institutions, and other organizations. For moreinformation, please address the Special Markets Department at the Perseus Books Group,2300 Chestnut Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or call (800) 810-4145, ext.5000, or email special.markets@perseusbooks.com.Designed by Trish WilkinsonSet in 11.5 point Goudy Old StyleLibrary of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataBradshaw, John, 1950–Cat sense : how the new feline science can make you a better friend to your pet /John Bradshaw.pages cmIncludes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-0-465-03101-6 (hardcover) — ISBN 978-0-465-04095-7 (e-book) 1. Cats—Behavior. 2. Cats—Psychology. 3. Human-animal relationships. 4. Catowners. I. Title.SF446.5.B725 2013636.8—dc23201302074910 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 19780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page iv To Splodge(1988–2004)A Real Cat9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page v 9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page vi ContentsPrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroductionxixviixixCHAPTER 1The Cat at the Threshold1CHAPTER 2The Cat Steps Out of the Wild25CHAPTER 3One Step Back, Two Steps Forward50CHAPTER 4Every Cat Has to Learn to Be Domestic76CHAPTER 5The World According to Cat102CHAPTER 6Thoughts and Feelings123CHAPTER 7Cats Together157CHAPTER 8Cats and Their People188CHAPTER 9Cats as Individuals219CHAPTER 1 0Cats and Wildlife241CHAPTER 1 1Cats of the Future257Further ReadingNotesIndex279281299vii9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page vii 9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page viii Dogs look up to us: cats look down on us.—WINSTON CHURCHILLWhen a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade,without further introduction.—MARK TWAIN9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page ix Splodge9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page x PrefaceWwindows enabling us to see into another world”—but what a mysteri-ous world that is! Most pet owners would agree that dogs tend to beopen and honest, revealing their intentions to anyone who will paythem attention. Cats, on the other hand, are elusive: we accept themon their terms, but they in turn never quite reveal what those termsmight be. Winston Churchill, who referred to his cat Jock as his“special assistant,” famously once observed of Russian politics, “It isa riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps thereis a key”; he might as well have been talking about cats. Is there a key? I’m convinced that there is, and that it can be foundin science. I’ve shared my home with quite a few cats—and have become aware that “ownership” is not the appropriate term for thisrelationship. I’ve witnessed the birth of several litters of kittens, andnursed my elderly cats through their heartbreaking final declines intosenility and ill health. I’ve helped with the rescue and relocation offeral cats, animals that literally wanted to bite the hand that fedthem. Still, I don’t feel that, on its own, my personal involvementwith cats has taught me very much about what they are really like. In-stead, the work of scientists—field biologists, archaeologists, develop-mental biologists, animal psychologists, molecular biologists, andanthrozoologists such as myself—has provided me with the pieceshat is a cat? Cats have intrigued people ever since they firstcame to live among us. Irish legend has it that “a cat’s eyes arexi9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xi that, once assembled, begin to reveal the cat’s true nature. We are stillmissing some pieces, but the definitive picture is emerging. This is anopportune moment to take stock of what we know, what is still to bediscovered, and, most important, how we can use our knowledge toimprove cats’ daily lives.Getting an idea of what cats are thinking does not detract fromthe pleasures of “owning” them. One theory holds that we can enjoyour pets’ company only through pretending that they are “littlepeople”—that we keep animals merely to project our own thoughtsand needs onto them, secure in the knowledge that they can’t tell ushow far off the mark we are. Taking this viewpoint to its logical con-clusion, forcing us to concede that our cats neither understand norcare what we say to them, we might suddenly find that we no longerlove them. I do not subscribe to this idea. The human mind is per-fectly capable of simultaneously holding two apparently incompatibleviews about animals, without one canceling the other out. The ideathat animals are in some ways like and in others quite unlike humanslies behind the humor of countless cartoons and greetings cards;these simply would not be funny if the two concepts negated eachother. In fact, quite the opposite: the more I learn about cats, boththrough my own studies and through other research, the more I ap-preciate being able to share my life with them.Cats have fascinated me since I was a child. We had no cats athome when I was growing up, nor did any of our neighbors. The onlycats I knew lived on the farm down the lane, and they weren’t pets,they were mousers. My brother and I would occasionally catch in-triguing glimpses of one of them running from barn to outhouse, butthey were busy animals and not over-friendly to people, especiallysmall boys. Once, the farmer showed us a nest of kittens among thehay bales, but he made no special effort to tame them: they were simply his insurance against vermin. At that age, I thought that catswere just another farm animal, like the chickens that pecked aroundthe yard or the cows that were driven back to the barn every eveningfor milking.xiiPreface9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xii The first pet cat I ever got to know was the polar opposite of thesefarm cats, a neurotic Burmese by the name of Kelly. Kelly belongedto a friend of my mother’s who had bouts of illness, and no neighborto feed her cat while she was hospitalized. Kelly boarded with us; hecould not be let out in case he tried to run back home, he yowled in-cessantly, he would eat only boiled cod, and he was evidently used toreceiving the undivided attention of his besotted owner. While he waswith us, he spent most of his time hiding behind the couch, but withina few seconds of the telephone ringing, he would emerge, make surethat my mother’s attention was occupied by the person on the otherend of the line, and then sink his long Burmese canines deep into hercalf. Regular callers became accustomed to the idea that twenty sec-onds in, the conversation would be interrupted by a scream and thena muttered curse. Understandably, none of us became particularlyfond of Kelly, and we were always relieved when it was time for him tohead back home.Not until I had pets of my own did I begin to appreciate the plea-sures of living with a normal cat—that is to say, a cat that purrs whenit is stroked and greets people by rubbing around their legs. Thesequalities were probably also appreciated by the first people to givehouseroom to cats thousands of years ago; such displays of affectionare also the hallmark of tamed individuals of the African wildcat, thedomestic cat’s indirect ancestor. The emphasis placed on these quali-ties has gradually increased over the centuries. While most of today’scat owners value them for their affection above all else, for most oftheir history, domestic cats have had to earn their keep as controllersof mice and rats.As my experience with domestic cats grew, so did my appreciationof their utilitarian origins. Splodge, the fluffy black-and-white kittenwe bought for our daughter as compensation for having to relocate,quickly grew into a large, shaggy, and rather bad-tempered hunter.Unlike many cats, he was fearless in the face of a rat, even an adult.He soon learned that depositing a rat carcass on our kitchen floor forus to find when we came downstairs for breakfast was not appreciated,xiiiPreface9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xiii and after that he kept his predatory activities private—without, I sus-pect, giving the rats themselves any respite.However brave he was against a rat, Splodge usually kept awayfrom other cats. Every now and then, we would hear the cat-flap clat-ter as he arrived home in a tearing hurry, and a quick glance out thewindow would usually reveal one of the older cats in the neighbor-hood, glaring in the general direction of our back door. He had a favorite hunting area in the park nearby, but kept himself inconspicu-ous when traveling there and back. His diffidence toward other cats,especially males, was not just typical of many cats; it also exemplifieda weakness in social skills that is perhaps the greatest difference be-tween cats and dogs. Most dogs find it easy to get along with otherdogs; cats generally find other cats a challenge. Yet many of today’sowners expect their cats to accept other cats without either when they themselves wish to get a second cat, or when theydecide to move, depositing their unsuspecting cat into what anothercat thinks is its territory.For cats, a stable social environment is not enough; they rely ontheir owners to provide a stable physical environment as well. Cats arefundamentally territorial animals that put down powerful roots in theirsurroundings. For some, their owner’s home is all the territory theyneed. Lucy, another of my cats, showed no interest in hunting, despitebeing Splodge’s great-niece; she barely strayed more than a dozenyards from the house—except when she came into season and dis appeared over the garden wall for hours on end. Libby, Lucy’s daugh-ter and born in my home, was as brave a hunter as Splodge had been,but preferred to call the tomcats to her rather than go to them. Eventhough they were all related and all lived in the same house most oftheir lives, Splodge, Lucy, and Libby all had distinctive personalities,and if I learned one thing from observing them it was that no cat iscompletely typical: cats have personalities, just as humans do. This ob-servation inspired me to study how such differences come about.The transformation of the cat from resident exterminator to com-panion cohabiter is both recent and rapid, and—especially from thequestion—-xivPreface9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xiv cat’s perspective—evidently incomplete. Today’s owners demand adifferent set of qualities from their cats than would have been thenorm even a century ago. In some ways, cats are struggling with theirnewfound popularity. Most owners would prefer that their cats didnot kill cute little birds and mice, and those people who are more in-terested in wildlife than in pets are becoming increasingly vocal intheir opposition to the cat’s predatory urges. Indeed, cats now proba-bly face more hostility than at any time in the past two centuries.Can cats possibly shake off their legacy as humankind’s vermin exter-minator of choice, and in just a few generations?Cats themselves are oblivious to the controversy caused by theirpredatory natures, but all too aware of the difficulties they encounterin their dealings with other cats. Their independence, the qualitythat makes cats the ideal low-maintenance pet, probably stems fromtheir solitary origins, but it has left them poorly equipped to copewith many owners’ assumptions that they should be as adaptable asdogs. Can cats become more flexible in their social needs, so thatthey are unfazed by the proximity of other cats, without compromis-ing their unique appeal?One of my reasons for writing this book is to project what the typi-cal cat might be like fifty years from now. I want people to continue toenjoy the company of a delightful animal, but I’m not sure that thecat, as a species, is heading in the right direction. The more I’ve stud-ied cats, from the wildest feral to the most cosseted Siamese, the moreI’ve become convinced that we can no longer afford to take cats forgranted: a more considered approach to cat keeping and cat breedingis necessary if we are to ensure their future.xvPreface9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xv 9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xvi AcknowledgmentsISouth Institute. Much of what I’ve learned has come from painstaking obser-vation of cats themselves: my own, my neighbors’, cats in adoptioncenters, the family of cats that used to share the Anthrozoology Insti-tute’s offices, and many ferals and farm cats.Compared to the large number of canine scientists, rather few academics specialize in feline science, and even fewer make the do-mestic cat the focus of their attention. Those I’ve had the privilege ofworking with and who’ve helped me to form my ideas about how catssee the world include Christopher Thorne, David Macdonald, IanRobinson, Sarah Brown, Sarah Benge (née Lowe), Deborah Smith,Stuart Church, John Allen, Ruud van den Bos, Charlotte Cameron- Beaumont, Peter Neville, Sarah Hall, Diane Sawyer, Suzanne Hall,Giles Horsfield, Fiona Smart, Rhiann Lovett, Rachel Casey, KimHawkins, Christine Bolster, Elizabeth Paul, Carri Westgarth, JennaKiddie, Anne Seawright, Jane Murray, and others too numerous to list.I’ve also learned a great deal from discussions with colleagues bothat home and abroad, including the late Professor Paul Leyhausen, Den-nis Turner, Gillian Kerby, Eugenia Natoli, Juliet Clutton-Brock, SandraMcCune, James Serpell, Lee Zasloff, Margaret Roberts and her col-leagues at Cats Protection, Diane Addie, Irene Rochlitz, Deborahbegan studying cat behavior more than thirty years ago, first atthe Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition, later at the University ofampton, and now at the University of Bristol’s Anthrozoologyxvii9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xvii Goodwin, Celia Haddon, Sarah Heath, Graham Law, Claire Bessant,Irene Rochlitz, Patrick Pageat, Danielle Gunn-Moore, Paul Morris,Kurt Kotrschal, Elly Hiby, Sarah Ellis, Britta Osthaus, Carlos Driscoll,Alan Wilson, and the late and much-missed Penny Bernstein. Mythanks also to the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Medicine,especially Professors Christine Nicol and Mike Mendl, and Drs. DavidMain and Becky Whay, for nurturing the Anthrozoology Institute andits research.My studies of cats have relied on the cooperation of many hun-dreds of volunteer cat owners (and their cats!), to whom I will alwaysbe grateful. Much of our research would have been impossible with-out the unstinting assistance of the UK’s re-homing charities, includ-ing the RSPCA, the Blue Cross, and St. Francis Animal Welfare, andI am especially grateful to Cats Protection for two decades of practi-cal and financial assistance.Summarizing nearly thirty years of research on cat behavior into aform intended to be appreciated by the average cat owner has notbeen an easy task. I have had expert guidance from Lara Heimert andTom Penn, my editors at Basic and Penguin respectively, and my inde-fatigable agent Patrick Walsh. Thank you all.As in my previous books, I’ve turned to my dear friend Alan to bring some of the animals to life in the illustrations, and just as be-fore, he’s done me more than proud.Finally, I must thank my family for their forbearance for my en-forced absences in what my granddaughter Beatrice calls “Pops’ Petersoffice.”xviiiAcknowledgments9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xviii IntroductionTthe dog, by as many as three to one.1As more of us have come to livein cities—environments for which dogs are not ideally suited—catshave, for many, become the lifestyle pet of choice. About one-thirdof US households have one or more cats, and they are found in morethan a quarter of UK families. Even in Australia, where the domesticcat is routinely demonized as a heartless killer of innocent endan-gered marsupials, about a fifth of households own cats. All over theworld, images of cats are used to advertise all kinds of consumergoods, from perfume to furniture to confectionery. The cartoon cat“Hello Kitty” has appeared on more than 50,000 different brandedproducts in more than sixty countries, netting her creators billions ofdollars in royalties. Even though a significant minority of people—perhaps as many as one person in five—don’t like cats, the majoritywho do show no sign of relinquishing even a fraction of their affec-tion for their favorite animal.Cats somehow manage to be simultaneously affectionate and self-reliant. Compared to dogs, cats are low-maintenance pets. They donot need training. They groom themselves. They can be left alone allday without pining for their owners as many dogs do, but they willnonetheless greet us affectionately when we get home (well—mostwill). Their mealtimes have been transformed by today’s pet-foodhe domestic cat is the most popular pet in the world today.Across the globe, domestic cats outnumber “man’s best friend,”xix9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xix industry from a chore into a picnic. They remain unobtrusive most ofthe time, yet seem delighted to receive our affection. In a word, theyare convenient.Yet despite their apparently effortless transformation into urbansophisticates, however, cats still have three out of four feet firmlyplanted in their wild origins. The dog’s mind has been radically al-tered from that of its ancestor, the gray wolf; cats, on the other hand,still think like wild hunters. Within a couple of generations, cats canrevert back to the independent way of life that was the exclusive pre-serve of their predecessors some ten thousand years ago. Even today,many millions of cats worldwide are not pets but feral scavengers andhunters, living alongside people but inherently distrustful of them.Due to the astonishing flexibility with which kittens learn the differ-ence between friend and foe, cats can move between these dramati-cally different lifestyles within a generation, and the offspring of aferal mother and feral father can become indistinguishable from a catdescended from generations of pets. A pet that is abandoned by itsowner and cannot find another may turn to scavenging; a generationor two on, and its descendants will be indistinguishable from thethousands of feral cats that live shadowy existences in our cities.As cats become more popular and ever more numerous, those whorevile them continue to raise their voices, but with more venom nowthan for several centuries before. Cats have never shared the “un-clean” tag foisted on the dog and the pig, but despite cats’ superficiallyuniversal acceptance, a minority of people across all cultures findscats disagreeable, and as many as one in twenty say that they findthem repulsive.2When asked, few Westerners will admit that theydon’t like dogs: those who do usually turn out either not to like ani-mals in general or can trace their aversion to a specific experience,perhaps being bitten in childhood.3Cat-phobia is more deeply seatedand less widespread than common phobias of snakes and phobias that have a logical basis in helping the sufferer to avoid poi-sonous varieties—but is just as powerful an experience for those whosuffer from it.4Cat-phobics were likely at the forefront of the religiouspersecution that led to the killing of millions of cats in medieval Eu-spiders—xxIntroduction9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xx rope, and cat-phobia was likely just as common then as it is today.Thus, there can be no guarantee that the cat’s popularity will last. In-deed, without our intervention, the twentieth century may turn outto have been the cat’s golden age.Today, spurred on by confessed cat-haters, the cat is coming underattack on the specific grounds that it is a wanton and unnecessarykiller of “innocent” wildlife. These voices are most loudly raised in theAntipodes, but are becoming increasingly strident in the UK and theUnited States. The anti-cat lobby, at its most extreme, demands thatcats no longer be allowed to hunt, that pet cats be kept indoors, andthat feral cats should be exterminated. Owners of outdoor cats arevilified for supporting an animal that is portrayed as laying waste tothe wildlife around their homes. Veterinarians who seek to managethe welfare of feral cats by neutering and vaccinating them, and thenreturning them to their original territory, have come under attackfrom within their own profession, with some colleagues charging thatthis constitutes (illegal) abandonment that benefits neither the catnor the adjacent wildlife.5Both sides in this debate admit that cats are “natural” hunters, butcannot agree on how this behavior might be managed. In parts ofAustralia and New Zealand, cats are defined as “alien” predators in-troduced from the Northern hemisphere, and are banned from someareas and subject to curfews or compulsory microchipping in others.Even in places where cats have lived alongside native wildlife for hun-dreds of years, such as in the United States and the UK, their increas-ing popularity as pets has prompted a vocal minority to press forsimilar restrictions. Cat owners point to a lack of scientific evidencethat pet cats contribute significantly to a population decline of anywild bird or mammal, which are caused instead mainly by the recentproliferation of other pressures on wildlife, such as loss of habitat.Consequently, any restrictions imposed on pet cats are unlikely to re-sult in a resurgence of the species that they supposedly threaten.Cats themselves are of course unaware that we no longer value theirhunting prowess. Insofar as they are concerned, the greatest threat totheir subjective well-being comes not from people, but instead fromxxiIntroduction9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xxi xxiiIntroductionother cats. In the same way that cats are not born to love people—thisis something they have to learn when they are kittens—they do not automatically love other cats; indeed, their default position is to be sus-picious, even fearful, of every cat they meet. Unlike the highly sociablewolves that were forebears to modern dogs, the ancestors of cats wereboth solitary and territorial. As cats began their association with hu-mankind some 10,000 years ago, their tolerance for one another musthave been forced to improve so that they could live at the higher den-sities that man’s provision of food for them—at first accidental, thendeliberate—allowed.Cats have yet to evolve the optimistic enthusiasm for contactwith their own kind that characterizes dogs. As a result, many catsspend their lives trying to avoid contact with one another. All thewhile, their owners inadvertently compel them to live with cats theyhave no reason to trust—whether the neighbors’ cats, or the secondcat obtained by the owner to “keep him company.” As their popular-ity increases, so inevitably does the number of cats that each cat isforced into contact with, thereby increasing the tensions that eachexperiences. Finding it ever harder to avoid social conflict, many catsfind it nearly impossible to relax; the stress they experience affectstheir behavior and even their health.The well-being of many pet cats falls short of what it should be—perhaps because their welfare does not grab headlines in the way thatdogs’ welfare does, or perhaps because they tend to suffer in silence. In2011, a UK veterinary charity estimated that the average pet cat’sphysical and social environment scored only 64 percent, with house-holds that owned more than one cat scoring even lower. Owners’ un-derstanding of cat behavior scored little better, at 66 percent.6Withouta doubt, if cat owners understood more about what makes their catstick, many cats could live much happier lives.Faced with such pressures, cats need not our immediate emotionalreactions—irrespective of whether we find them endearing or not—but instead a better understanding of what they want from us. Dogsare expressive; their wagging tails and bouncy greetings tell us in no9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xxii uncertain terms when they are happy, and they do not hesitate to letus know when they are distressed. Cats, on the other hand, are un-demonstrative; they keep feelings to themselves and rarely tell uswhat they need, beyond asking for food when they’re hungry. Evenpurring, long assumed to be an unequivocal sign of contentment, isnow known to have more complex significance. Dogs certainly bene-fit from the knowledge of their true natures that can come only fromscience, but for cats this comprehension is essential, for they rarelycommunicate their problems to us until these have become toomuch to bear. Most of all, cats require our assistance when, as hap-pens far too often, their social lives run awry.Cats desperately need the kind of research from which dogs havebenefited, but unfortunately feline science has not seen the explo-sion of activity that has recently occurred in canine science. Catshave simply not grabbed the attention of scientists as dogs have.However, the past two decades have provided significant advances,profoundly affecting scientists’ interpretations of how cats view theworld, and what makes them “tick.” These new insights form thecore of this book, giving us the first indications on how to help catsadjust to the many demands we now put on them.Cats have adapted to live alongside people while retaining muchof their wild behavior. Apart from the minority that belong to a breed,cats are not humankind’s creation in the sense that dogs are; rather,they have coevolved with us, molding themselves into two nichesthat we have unintentionally provided for them. The first role for catsin human society was that of pest controller: some 10,000 years ago,wild cats moved in to exploit the concentrations of rodents providedby our first granaries, and adapted themselves to hunting there inpreference to the surrounding countryside. Realizing how beneficialthis was—cats, after all, had no interest in eating grain and plantfoods themselves—people must have begun to encourage cats to stayby making available their occasional surpluses of animal products,such as milk and offal. The cats’ second role, which undoubtedly fol-lowed hard on the heels of the first but whose origins are lost in antiq-uity, is that of companion. The first good evidence that we have forxxiiiIntroduction9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xxiii xxivIntroductionpet cats comes from Egypt some 4,000 years ago, but women and chil-dren in particular may have adopted kittens as pets long before this.As far as humans are concerned, these dual roles of pest controllerand companion have ceased to go hand-in-hand. Although we treas-ured cats until recently for their prowess as hunters, few owners todayexpress delight when their cat deposits a dead mouse on their kitchenfloor.Cats carry the legacy of their primal pasts, and much of their behaviorstill reflects their wild instincts. To understand why a cat behaves as itdoes, we must understand where it came from and the influences thathave molded it into what it is today. Therefore, the first three chap-ters of this book chart the cat’s evolution from wild, solitary hunter tohigh-rise apartment-dweller. Unlike dogs, only a small minority of catshas ever been intentionally bred by people—and furthermore, whenthere has been deliberate breeding, it has been exclusively for appear-ance. No one has bred cats to guard houses, to herd livestock, or toaccompany or assist hunters. Instead, cats have evolved to fill a nichebrought about by the development of agriculture, from its beginningsin the harvest and storage of wild grains, to today’s mechanizedagribusiness.Of course, when the cat first infiltrated our settlements many thou-sands of years ago, its other qualities did not go unnoticed. Its appeal-ing features, its childlike face and eyes, the softness of its fur, and,crucially, its ability to learn how to become affectionate toward us, ledto its adoption as a pet. Subsequently, humankind’s passion for symbol-ism and mysticism elevated the cat to iconic status. Popular attitudestoward cats have been profoundly influenced by such connotations:extreme religious views toward cats have affected not only how theywere treated, but their very biology—both how they behave and howthey look.Cats have changed to live alongside humans, but we have very dif-ferent ways of gathering information about and thereby interpretingthe physical world that we share. Chapters 4 through 6 examine thosedifferences: humans and cats are both mammals, but our senses and9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xxiv xxvIntroductionbrains work in different ways. Cat owners often underappreciate thesedifferences: we have a natural tendency to assume that animals per-ceive the world around us in the same way as we do. Moreover, evenin today’s world of rationality and science, we still treat the world as ifit were sentient, attributing intention to the weather, the earth, andthe movements of the stars in the sky. How easy, therefore, it is to fallinto the trap of thinking that because cats are communicative and af-fectionate, they must be, more or less, little furry humans.Science, however, reveals that cats are anything but. Beginningwith the way that every kitten constructs its own version of the world,with consequences that will last its entire lifetime, this part of thebook describes how the cat gathers information about its surround-ings, especially the way it uses its hypersensitive sense of smell; howits brain interprets and uses that information; and how its emotionsguide its responses to opportunities and challenges alike. In scientificcircles, it has only recently become acceptable to talk about animalemotions, and one school of thought still maintains that emotions area byproduct of consciousness, meaning that no animals except hu-mans and possibly a few primates can possibly possess them. However,common sense dictates that if an animal that shares our basic brainstructure and hormone systems looks frightened, it must be experi-encing something very like fear—probably not in quite the same waythat we experience it, but fear nonetheless.Most (but not everything) of what biology has revealed about thecat’s world fits the idea that cats have evolved as predators first andforemost. Cats are social animals too; otherwise, they could never havebecome pets as well as hunters. The demands of of all, the need to cohabitate with other cats in human settlements,and then the benefits of forming affectionate bonds with people—haveextended cats’ social repertoires out of all recognition compared tothose of their wild ancestors. Chapters 7 through 9 explore these socialconnections in detail: how cats conceive of and interact with othercats and with people, and why two cats may react very differentlyin the same situation. In other words, we will examine the science ofcat “personality.”domestication—first9780465031 01 6-text_Layout 1 6/1 9/1 3 1 :47 PM Page xxv The book concludes with an examination of the cat’s currentplace in the world, and how this might evolve in the coming decades.Cats are under pressure from many different interests, some well-meaning and others antagonistic. Pedigree cats are still in a minority,and those who breed them are in a position to avoid the practicesthat have so adversely affected the welfare of pedigree dogs over thepast few decades.7However, the growing fashion for hybrids betweendomestic cats and other, wild, species of cat, resulting in “breeds”such as the Bengal, can have unintended consequences. We mustalso ask whether the cat is being inadvertently and subtly alteredby those who hold cat welfare closest to their hearts. Paradoxically,the drive to neuter as many cats a...


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