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

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,330 ratings  ·  233 reviews
Cats have been popular household pets for thousands of years, and their numbers only continue to rise. Today there are three cats for every dog on the planet, and yet cats remain more mysterious, even to their most adoring owners. Unlike dogs, cats evolved as solitary hunters, and, while many have learned to live alongside humans and even feel affection for us, they still...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

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This is essentially three books in one: a summary of archaeological and DNA evidence tracing when cats were first domesticated, and attempting to determine the origins of our domesticated cats today; an analysis of the author's experiments to determine links between cat behavior (and best practices in cat ownership) and what Bradshaw refers to as feline science, largely drawn from behavioral psychology; and a more polemical discussion of some controversies surrounding cats today. These controver...more
Jessica Jeffers
I play mama to the classiest cat there is:

She's also kind of a beast, forever reminding me that she's more important then the boyfriend:

Still, I love her to pieces and fret that she's gonna call child services on me when I have to leave her overnight. My hope was that learning a little kitty psychology will help soothe my guilt and get her to stop biting my butt. This book didn't give me as much straightforward information as I'd hoped.

Bradshaw spent a lot of time exploring the evolutionary h...more
I purchased Cat Sense immediately upon listening to Terry Gross' interview with the author and am sad to say I was disappointed. I mean, to be completely honest, I read it hoping that it would unravel/discuss the adorable quirks we see in our own cats (which may or may not have explanation yet), and not things I'd already learned while Googling shit like "why is my cat a jerk" and "why does my cat poop literally 2 inches from the litter box." Also, coming from a biology background and having tak...more
I saw some complaints from other reviewers that this is three books in one--evolution, history, and psychology--but to me this was a feature, not a bug. A little bit of everything I'm looking for in books about cats.

Bradshaw's musings on the future of the domestic cat are thought-provoking and though I'm fully in favor of all pets being neutered and spayed, he has a good point that in the case of an animal capable of teetering between wild and domestic from one generation to the next, it makes...more
Bill  Kerwin

John Bradshaw is a master of redundancy—in both the bad and the good senses of the word. He has a few simple ideas bolstered by sparse research—cats are barely domesticated, cats are not social, cats are predatory and territorial, cats think we are non-hostile cats, cats think we are their mommies, cats use their senses differently than we do—and he applies and re-applies these ideas to different aspects of cat lore (archeology, history, research, training, etc.) in a way that reinforces his ins...more
Stepford Cats...

Bradshaw starts his story of the domesticated cat by taking us back to 10,000 or so years ago, explaining that probably the relationship between man and cat began when humans started to store food, thus requiring rodent control. He discusses the ongoing genetic links between domestic and wild cats and suggests what steps may have taken place over the history of the cat to lead to today’s level of domestication. He regularly informs us that his views are often no more than educate...more
I give very few 5 star reviews, but this is one of them. As you can tell by my facebook picture, I cohabit with a tuxedo cat. I've looked everywhere for a book about cat psychology and never found anything as comprehensive as this one. This one looks at their behavior based on scientific analysis of current observation and experiments. (None of the experiments involve harming cats.) It's the first one I've seen that talks about genetic influences, although Ive seen what looked family traits in t...more
Beth Chandler
An excellent, engagingly written book on the history, biology, culture, and psychology of domestic cats. Bradshaw is not only a good scientist (Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute and author of many papers on animal behavior) but a cat lover of many feline generations' standing. He writes about the past, current lives, and uncertain future of domestic cats with even-handedness, affection, and a desire to educate humans on the nature of cats and their interactions with humans.

Intended to share a few anecdotes about my cat family but got sucked into the black hole that is cat videos on Youtube.

Some background....

I have always been fond of animals. All sorts of animals. I was the kind of kid who had a funeral for a dead bee I found on the sidewalk. I believe I inherited this soft spot for furry things and flying things and many-legged things from my mother. My father was decidedly less enthusiastic about the idea of bringing pets into the home.

How I landed my first p...more
I love cats, especially my own three boys, and will read any book that attempts to make sense of their behavior. As any cat owner knows, making sense of our furry companions sometimes seems impossible, but Bradshaw does a pretty good job. He is a scientist of some kind, so his observations deal with two main aspects of cats: genetics, and observable behavior. However he does a good job of expressing complicated science in readily accessible language. It also bec...more
Pamela D
This ARC was generously donated by Basic Books Group.

Cat Sense is an all-encompassing book about the domestic cat. The first few chapters describe the history of cats and their domestication. John Bradshaw then discusses some of his research with the modern, domesticated cat. The final chapters discusses how cats are seen in contemporary society and some of his concerns about how cats are treated (i.e., spaying and neutering cats).

Let's discuss each of these sections in turn. I really enjoyed th...more
TR Peterson
Cat Sense is a thoroughly enjoyable read for both cat lovers and those interested in feline behavior. What immediately strikes the reader is how little scientific study of cats there is when compared to that of dogs.

Bradshaw seeks to pull together the disparate studies and incorporate them with his own to further reveal the universally enigmatic creature which is the domestic (and feral) cat.

Most poignantly, his remarks on the potential for breeding for temperament in cats as is done with dogs...more
My cat sits on my lap while I read. He occasionally turns his head up to look at me, and waits patiently for my kiss on his forehead. My husband and I trained our cat for of a lot of things. He doesn't scratch furniture, climb on kitchen counters, eat our food, claw or bite us while roughhousing. He sits (marginally) patiently when we clip his claws or give him a brush or flea meds. Early on, we trained him to like being picked up and have his paw handled. But we didn't train him to like being k...more
The history and physiology sections were interesting, but I suspect I could find those in other books or the Internet. Mostly I think I disagree with the author's main premise that cats should evolve to be more "palatable" in order to survive with people--they need to be better socialized to get along with other cats and (human) strangers, and they need to stop hunting. He seems to disregard the fact that many cat lovers love cats because of their quirks, not despite. Also, the idea that by neut...more
Jun 06, 2014 Don rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who works with cats or has a cat.
I first read John Bradshaw's two previous books on cats; The True Nature of the Cat and The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat back in 2003. Cats, and specifically cat behavior is still under-researched compared to dogs but Bradshaw's book nicely sums up what we do know. He also discusses how the cat and society are changing and suggests what that bodes for the cats future. He's posed some important questions and concerns about neutering and breeding which merit further discussion and action.

If you b...more
Sannie Hald
I received a free digital copy from Basic Books Group by requesting on

This book is for cat lovers/cat interested only. I do not believe others would spend the time reading it. This book, in my opinion, does not reveal anything new about cats. For people who doesn't know much and would like to know more it is an interesting read. For me, it was a bit dull.. Nothing new in there for me.
This is a good book on a subject which demands a great one. Bradshaw has a few ideas which he makes go a long way. Domestic cats still bare the genetic imprinteur of their wild ancestors. This means they are still getting used to living with people, it means that some of them still have an instinct which makes them want to kill rodents and birds, and means they are normally very reluctant to get on with fellow cats unless they were brought up with them. Which is inconvenient for people who would...more
Susanne E
The subtitle about "being a better friend to your pet" is a bit misleading if you're expecting tips on what treats to buy and what games to play, but this book is full of nuggets of information about cat development, evolution, social norms and domestication that had me thinking "Ohhh, that explains a lot about [insert name of any cat I've ever known]."

Bradshaw's most thought-provoking point was about cat reproduction. "Responsible" pet owners and shelters increasingly neuter/spay their cats, bu...more
If you want to understand a bit better what goes inside a cat’s mind, this is a book for you. You might find the first chapters a tad dry, with all those comings and goings: this wild cat went here, and that wild cat went over there, and this one evolved into this and that one evolved into that. However, once that side of the story is taken care of, we plunge into anatomy and behaviour, and reading it is pure joy. It’s when you try to look at the world from their eyes that you begin to understan...more
Nathan Dehoff
I'm not really sure the subtitle of this book is entirely appropriate, as it doesn't give a lot of advice about dealing with cats. It's more an explanation of why cats are the way they are, although of course it acknowledges that all cats are individuals and aren't all going to behave in the same way. Also, Bradshaw frequently mentions that there hasn't been that much scientific study of cats in particular, so the conclusions about cat behavior aren't necessarily always accurate. What we do get...more
Alissa Bach

I first picked this up because the black and white kitten on the cover is the spitting image of my husband's old cat, Jerry...or at least how I imagine Jerry looked as a kitten. And I've been reading it based on interest. A chapter here and there in no particular order. Although informative, there's really nothing new here. Nothing I haven't read in other cat books. And, being a person who shares living space with cats ('cause one really can't "own" a cat, now, can they?), I've read my fai...more
Three years ago, I found this little lady in the middle of the street:

Tyger Lily

My neighbor had abandoned her when they moved and she seemed to be looking for a forever home. My first meeting with her had been the night prior to my birthday when I found her on top of my trashcan. It wasn't until that morning when I went outside again that I found her in the middle of the street hungry. I had learned from earlier childhood experiences that cats were not the nicest animals and had preferred dogs as compani...more
The science of cats

As a devoted owner of (or staff for, take your pick) seven cats, I was curious about the contents of Cat Sense. Quite a few books have been been published about the science of canines, but not so many about cats. So when I saw that Bradshaw's book was available for review on NetGalley, I signed up to get a copy.

Cat Sense is a little bit of a dry read at times. Still, there's a lot of good information about cats packed into the book, and it is well worth reading for the average...more
This is a very comprehensive book about cats - from their evolution and genetic history and distribution, to the modern day cat and its future. There is a lot of scientific information in this book, but rarely does it ever stray into technical jargon. The lay person can understand and learn a lot from this book. Do not expect any sentiment, however. The good, the bad and the ugly are all in here.
I recommend this book to everyone who is currently living with cats or is thinking about doing so. So...more
This book could be good. An anthropological look at the history of domestic cats. I could work with that. But this author is a moron. He doesn't know enough to keep his house cat indoors and get them fixed. I've never met a cat who isn't content to live indoors once fixed and provided with a steady diet of fresh food and water. And I've met a lot of cats. And a lot of people who care for cats.

And the anthropology, ostensibly Bradshaw's area of expertise... he drones on like an abhorred college...more
So dry and dull with little new information that I could glean. I ended up skimming and did not take in much of his argument about TNR and breeding. From Goodreads reviews it sounds a little goofy.
Reggie Billingsworth
"..Kittens born into extended families normally find it easier to learn social skills than those born to solitary mothers."

Other self-evident conclusions are rife through out this book that can't seem to decide what audience is being spoken to. Cat Sense with it's cute cover is pitched and packaged as if the market was Jo-Cat Person, then lumbers along at great length with unfootnoted research (albeit "further reading" lists are appended) that kinda makes you want to say..."Alrighty then, Profe...more
Since Tim and I plan to own cats in the future, I thought this would be a good book to pick up. It has some good practical information about having cats as pets, as well as lots of cat history and biology.

He brought forth the idea that by neutering and spaying our pet cats, we're actually selecting for more unfriendly kittens (because most kittens now are from feral, unfriendly, unfixed cats, and apparently there is a slight genetic component to friendliness). I have always been a huge proponent...more
I had heard the author on the web or some such and I was intrigued by the concept of this book. A book to figure why cats behave the way they do and maybe make me a better cat owner sounds terrific! Not the book I got at all. While there is some interesting facts in the book a lot of it doesn't tell you a lot of the basic why your cat is not as weird as you think and how you can be a better cat owner. I did learn that cats are trainable via treats, but I kind of knew that since my cat does a ver...more
This book had a really easy target in me. Basically, if you can tell me something--almost anything--about domestic cats, I am interested in hearing it. My brain may have been infected by that virus scientists claim cats infect mice with, making them slow to run and attracted to cat smell. I love cats. We have four of them. So even when the book made a claim about cats (black cats are friendlier!) that it later retracted (never mind--no evidence for that!), I still found it interesting. All cats...more
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“Most cat owners nowadays expect their cat to live wherever the owners choose. Perhaps not fully understanding the cat’s need to form an attachment to its physical environment, owners assume that it is enough to provide food, shelter, and human company, and that if they do, the cat will have no reason not to stay put. In reality, many cats adopt a second “owner,” and sometimes migrate permanently.22” 0 likes
“By accepting our petting, cats are doing more than enjoying themselves: in their minds, they are almost certainly engaging in a social ritual that is reinforcing the bond with their owner.” 0 likes
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