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The Character of Cats: The Origins, Intelligence, Behavior, and Stratagems of Felis Silvestris Catus

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  185 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
There are no seeing-eye cats, guard cats, or sled cats-and for very good reason. Cats-as cat "owners" know-are intractably independent, defying all rules about how and why animals become domesticated. Now, in The Character of Cats, acclaimed author and scientist Stephen Budiansky combines breakthrough scientific research, fascinating lore, and his own infectious fondness f ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 227 pages
Published June 3rd 2002 by Viking Press
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Allison
Feb 12, 2012 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers who don't know much yet about animals
Recommended to Allison by: goodreads
Shelves: animals
I love reading about cats. The title of this book made me think it would be really interesting and enlightening, but it was misleading. From the author's note and the book itself, I cannot tell whether the author is an animal researcher himself, an animal lover, or merely someone who combines other people's research to talk about something he himself is not that interested in. For someone who has read other cat books, this provided hardly any new information. I did find the discussion on the evo ...more
Dark-Draco
This is such a good book to read and written clearly, though dealing with a difficult, scientific orientated subject. It traces the cat's history, from the first domestication right through to modern day, and discusses who its evolution has effected its behaviour and learning. The author's love of all things animal comes through the writing so well and everything is presented is a way that helps you understand what he is trying to say. I love all the line drawings throughout the book as well. We ...more
Dorothy Bandusky
While a wealth of information is presented in this book, the slant in favor of evolution is obvious on almost every page. The author writes as though the idea that cats evolved from other life forms is established fact, when in truth it is not. It is a theory and a highly questionable one at that.

In fact, the author briefly implies it would be extremely difficult if not downright impossible for humans to build something that could equal a cat's capabilities. If it would take intelligence (humans
...more
Avery
Interesting information but clunky reading. Full review here.
Jessica T.
Long winded.
J.M.
Jun 23, 2009 J.M. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Okay, seriously? If you love cats, or even if you're just mildly interested in them, this is THE book to read. I devoured it and learned so much about the feline species while doing so that I went out and bought a second copy just so I could keep one. It's that good, honest (this from a woman who has to pass on every book she owns because she's out of space!). But yeah, this book rocks. One of the best I've read in years.
Edward
Sep 23, 2012 Edward rated it really liked it
Shelves: general
This falls somewhere between fluff and technical so it's just the right speed for someone that has a curiosity about the domestication of cats and their behavior. I use it as a go to book when ours asks a question that we don't know the answer to. The chapter on feline genetics is interesting but there may just not be enough material there to better appreciate the technical aspects. Chapters dealing with specific behavior and its sources i.e. inherited, ecological, or learned provides convincing ...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
This book took a very scientific approach to describing cat behavior. This might indicate how geeky I am, but I loved learning about cats' behavior this way. The author starts by talking a little about how cats evolved and how interesting it is that (unlike dogs, horses, and many other domesticated animals) cats can still breed with their wild counterpart. It is also true that wild cats can survive without us, much better than wolves or the nearly extinct ancestors of today's horses. You can rea ...more
Jen
Dec 29, 2015 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Budiansky, author of The Truth About Dogs, takes a look at the scientific data as to why cats behave the way they do. Budiansky explains that cats are the domesticated animals that are most closely related to their wild ancestors. Budiansky argues that the cat is actually not domesticated, but in-stead an “exploited captive.” Physically, cats do not differ from their wild counter-parts. Unlike domesticated cows, dogs, and chickens that have changed physically to be dependent on humans fo ...more
Maureen
Apr 09, 2016 Maureen rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, nonfiction, animals
Although the author owns cats, he does not over sentimentalize the character of cats. He refers to experiments carried out on cats without reference to any cruelty actual or perceived. A much more objective book than Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's "The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats", which should have been subtitled The Emotional Life of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.
Herbert
Apr 02, 2014 Herbert marked it as to-read
I think that is amanzing to know more about cats life, that's why I want to read this book.
Cheryl
Jun 22, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some good information here, but I found it very dry and laborious to read.
Christine
Oct 14, 2007 Christine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cat fanciers
The most interesting thing I learned from this book is that house cats are not considered truly domesticated, rather they share with "domesticated" camels and elephants the classification of "exploited captive."

One reason for this is that unlike most domesticated animals like dogs, sheep cattle, etc, the cat's wild counterpart is still alive and well (the wildcat of Asia, Europe and Africa) and differs very little from the house cat genetically.

This is not a cutesy cat book, but a user-friendly
...more
Goele Lousbergh
Still plenty of mystery left.
doreen
It's been a while, but I ran across this book at work today, and thought I'd include it, because it really was a great book on cats and cat behaviour. Stephen Budiansky writes well on the feline, incorporating scientific explanation along with personal experience on cats. Definite must for anyone who loves cats.
Narrelle
May 09, 2011 Narrelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A great guide to understand your cat as a cat rather than through anthropomorphy. Drawing on a range of behavioural and physical studies of cats, and written with a good deal of biting humour, Budiansky's book offers insight and even some practical tips for dealing with our furry and very independent friends.
Kayleigh
Jul 09, 2010 Kayleigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
This was a great book! I learned a lot about cat behavior, evolution, history, and a ton of other things. Some parts of it bothered me (like references to studies where electrodes were put into cat's brains), but overall I feel like I understand my cat much better! Definitely an entertaining read...
Seana
Jul 03, 2011 Seana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book, explained do much about cat behavior and people/culture's perception of them. Enjoyed it more than the author's book about dogs cause he wasn't 't so preachy. If you love cats, you should DEFINITELY read this book!!
Amy
Mar 06, 2013 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for a cat counterpart to Alexandra Horowitz's Inside of a Dog, but this one felt more like a cat book for people who don't know much about cats. It was a quick read and the historical sections were quite interesting.
Erin
Nov 09, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book combining my interest in brain science and behavior & my love of cats. My favorite line, "Cats do, then, form a mental map of their environment, but in an interesting sort of way, one with the cat in the middle".
Christie
Jul 20, 2009 Christie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book was full of information, but it felt really dry, so only parts of it were enjoyable to read. Tim and I enjoyed discussing the more interesting parts.
Emma
Mar 24, 2011 Emma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
Interessting, no sweet pictures, but lots of useful facts. Wonky index and one big gap - nothing on cat's ability to navigate and find their way home.
Felicia
Sep 14, 2008 Felicia rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, own
Good stuff for a cat lover--maybe tedious if you don't love cats.Some of it got a little boring and repetitive, but overall, not bad.
Kennedy
Just like honey badger, your cat doesn't give a shit.

I found this pretty interesting in showing how different cats really are.
Yvensong
Nov 18, 2013 Yvensong rated it really liked it
I picked this up to use as a reference book for a character I am writing about. I found the information I wanted and lots more.
The Cats Mother
Interesting and readable book about the science behind cat psychology, with a few useful tips.
Elena
May 20, 2011 Elena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found a few useful tips but in general the book has too much theory compared to practial advice.
Matt Willem
Dec 04, 2012 Matt Willem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hooray for kitties. A very readable summary of cat scholarship for the general audience.
Converse
Mar 30, 2010 Converse rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
An enjoyable account of the biology of the domestic cat, focusing on its behavior
Anne
Aug 09, 2011 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cats, non-fiction
Worthwhile reading if you want to know what makes cats tick.
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99775
Historian and journalist STEPHEN BUDIANSKY is the author of twelve books about military history, science, and nature.

His latest book is THE BLOODY SHIRT: TERROR AFTER APPOMATTOX, which chronicles the struggles of five courageous men in the post-Civil War South as they battled a rising tide of terrorist violence aimed at usurping the newly won rights of the freedmen.
More about Stephen Budiansky...

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