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

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,726 ratings  ·  528 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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Average rating 3.54  · 
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Bill Kerwin
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was ok

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
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
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 J.
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, read-2013
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
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Joe Soltzberg
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall 4 stars with the first 5 chapters being 5 stars (the last few chapters were kind of dull). A fantastic scientific history and modern analysis of Cats. I noticed this book didn't get great reviews from others and I'm not totally sure why... I think many people were expecting this book to either be a 'How to Train your cat' or 'Cute cat stories' book, but it's neither. It's a fairly in-depth and formal analysis of cats, so if evolutionary history doesn't excite you then chances are you'll ...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
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Bradshaw is the founder and director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol. He writes as both an expert in animal behavior and a cat lover. I only skimmed this one rather than reading it in full because I expected it would repeat a lot of the information in The Lion in the Living Room. There is indeed a fair amount of overlap in the discussion of domestic cat evolution and the environmental effects of cats’ hunting instinct, but Bradshaw’s book is unique for the amount of t ...more
Jenn "JR"
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kitties
The reason I bought this book was that it had a ton of information about the history of feline evolution, the social history of cats and humans, as well as some fascinating biological information about cats. I didn't buy it to find out more about what makes my cat so cute and quirky, nor to explain personality or whatever.

I do confess - the evolutionary stuff was a bit dry and long, it was hard for me to get through. I can't remember the names of any of the animals and locations in modern cats'
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-nature
I remember frying fish for dinner at grandmother's. I was 7-8 years old and loved the stray cats visiting the garden. She lived in a rural-ish place in the middle of the city, so the cats were pretty wild compared to domestic ones. I gave them fish in secret but then my grandma caught me and told me to recall God's name when I feed the cats, otherwise they were going to pee on the Sirat Bridge that I'll pass when I die. When she left, I fed one more cat, which was black, without God's name. I ne ...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
Stephanie Caye
Sep 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Sannie Hald
I received a free digital copy from Basic Books Group by requesting on Netgalley.com

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.
Fred Fisher
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a cat lover, I found this book on the history and personality of cats fascinating. The author has studied them for many years and writes very convincingly about the many aspects of raising a cat. I know it has changed my outlook on owning multiple cats and how I treat the one we have. The ending is a bit of downer and he paints a difficult future for our feline companions. I highly recommend this for all my cat loving friends.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book about what's known about the psychology, genetics, and socialization of the domestic cat.

What's most remarkable to me is just how little basic science has been done -- many basic things like knowing the optimal age to home kittens with their new families, the extent of genetic influence over personality traits, etc. have never been studied.

A particularly scary thing is that widespread neutering of pet cats has led to the least sociable and human adapted cats being responsible for most
Roxanna López
It contains some interesting insights but it is too long and repetitive. I read an early edition, maybe a later one would be better?
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
Mississippi Library Commission
Do you love cats? Cat Sense explores the evolution and history of cats, from their earliest encounters with humans to the present day. Bradshaw also discusses cat psychology--just why does your cat do the things he does? An enjoyable read, a bit redundant in sections, that will satisfy any cat lover's need to learn more about their feline friends.

Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mad-science
Trust England to produce such a powerfully factual book on pet behavior.
Nicky Neko
The curse of the uninteresting library book. Ended up skimming it so I could return it today.
Korey Paul
Mar 17, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, animals, 2022
A great overview of cat genetics, psychology, and physiology.
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was ok

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
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Pamela D
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, reviewed
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
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
TR Peterson
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, first-reads, cats
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
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John Bradshaw is Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol. He lives in Southampton, England.

Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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