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Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  107 ratings  ·  42 reviews
"Witty and passionate." --Lauren Groff

"Craig Pittman has a remarkable talent for telling stories set in the Sunshine State that never fail to fascinate and entertain."--Gilbert King

"The definitive book on one of America's least understood apex predators. The story of how Florida's panthers were saved from extinction is one that both deserves and needs to be told." --Dane
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Hanover Square Press
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Average rating 4.43  · 
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 ·  107 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: olr-reviews
The below review originally appeared on Open Letters Review.

Tales of extinction in the modern world are certainly not atypical, but it is rare for one to have a happy ending. An unlikely story of an apex predator resurrected from what appeared to be certain death, Craig Pittmans Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther will give readers a whole new meaning to the phrase, rooting for the Florida panthers.

By 2016, the Florida panther would go the way of the dodo bird, a 1992
Craig Pittman
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: favorites
I wrote it so of course I think it's the cat's pajamas -- so to speak. Meeeeeow!
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
When I was a little girl, they typically showed a short animated film as part of a movie. I remember a very clever one with the refrain, "Man, is it tough to be a bird!"

It is not easy to be a panther (or Puma, or mountain lion, or cougar--they're all essentially the same cat) in these United States. Like "Heart of a Lion", this book was in part inspirational, in part plain depressing. What got to me was the sheer greed and bullheadedness of some people who were supposed to be protecting the
Steph Post
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating. As a non-fiction read, the subject itself is captivating, but told through hilarious- and ultimately humanistic- lens of best-seller Craig Pittman, the book truly strikes a cord. Florida is often the epicenter of the absurd (with good reason, as this Florida native can attest) with our environment noted for its brutality (snakes, mosquitoes, alligators, wild boars, twig ants!) if at all, but Pittman gives weight here to the plight of the Florida panther, while also ...more
Bonnye Reed
I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent history of the Florida Panther from Netgalley, Craig Pittman, and Hanover Square Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this work of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I am pleased to recommend Craig Pittman to friends and family. He shares with us the sad and interesting record of the ups and downs - mostly downs - of the existence of the Florida panther. Again their numbers ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When a super-speed reader doesn't have a car for a month due to a predatory car insurance industry, you can get a LOT of reading done!!

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

It wasnt so long ago when a lot of people thought the Florida panther was extinct. They were very nearly right.
Tiffany Martin
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I rarely read nonfiction books but had the opportunity to get an arc copy of this one and could not pass it up. First of all, I adore the mountain lion. It is my favorite breed of wildcat and this book served to solidify those feelings even more. And trust me, those feels are strong as I've held a strong admiration for this wildcat since I was a little girl, watching NatGeo with my dad.

At any rate, oh the politics. Florida could have saved this genetically hindered and almost extinct species so
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant, funny, weird, nail-biter. Pittman is an award-winning environmental reporter whose books about the political, social, and ecological struggles facing Florida wildlife never disappoint. A longer review is forthcoming but since this one is brand new I wanted to say a few words about it for the benefit of potential readers who might (foolishly) be on the fence. Pittman writes like John D. Macdonald with an advanced degree in ecology and a finely honed bullshit detector, and I mean that ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
***I received a copy through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***

As a Floridian, I was thrilled to dive into this book about one of Floridas most famous (but least visible) animals. Working in the field of conservation, Ive seen how hard it is to fight for wildlife. But learning a little more about the panthers fight for survival is a pretty disheartening. This book is vital for Floridians because we need to learn from our mistakes and continue to fight. As of January
I have followed the Florida panthers' fight for survival for many years through Craig Pittman's newspaper stories, but there was still so much in this book that I didn't know or didn't remember. It was a pleasure to read the story told from beginning to end and especially to read Pittman trying to hold state and federal bureaucrats accountable for their bad decisions (or non-decisions).

Panthers were nearing extinction as a result of genetic defects due to inbreeding, road deaths and the
Kayla Mckinney
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for allowing me to read this ARC!

Readers are encouraged to pay attention to the subtitle of Craig Pittmans Cat Tale: the wild, weird battle to save the Florida panther because there is a great deal of weird to be found within the pages of this book. Like other similar titles (William Stolzenburgs Heart of a Lion, for instance) Pittman lays out the relevant facts about panther the panthers biology, ecology, and habitat. He traces the panthers story from its
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-history
As a "cat tale," the cat in question being the endangered Florida panther, this was a very interesting story about the effort of a few very dedicated individuals to bring this beautiful creature, which was down to just a few individual cats statewide, back from the brink of extinction. As far as Florida is concerned, it seems as though people will not be happy until every square inch is covered with a development or golf course. The US Fish and Wildlife agency is in the pockets of developers, ...more
Donna Huber
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While Craig Pittman worked on this book I was still dreaming of becoming Dr. Donna and studying the Florida panther. It was interesting to get personal insight into the people whose papers I read and behind the scenes look at what went into those published studies. I was obviously aware of the "Maehr scandal" but not all the details. One of my committee members is even mentioned in the book. I have often thought of publishing a version of my non-defended dissertation, but after reading this book ...more
Honey Rand
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Craig Pittman runs a lot of information through his head so that a reader need not work so hard to understand it. The package he delivers is a clear, entertaining narrative. The thing is, I listened to this book and the narrator was just wrong. His clear, but flat delivery failed to facilitate the humor that pervades Craig. Had I not know Craig Pittman, had I not "heard" him come through despite the narrator, I might have punched out. Read the book, don't listen to it.
Mortisha Cassavetes
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh how I really enjoyed this book even though it had me on the verge of tears many times. The book follows the Florida Panther and how not only had their numbers dwindled down to near extinction due to genetic abnormalities caused by inbreeding but how the Wildlife Organizations bumbled around so much trying to save them only to cause many to die. This is their journey. I highly recommend the book to raise awareness for the surviving 230 Florida Panthers that are holding on to existence.
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a book! I moved to Florida in 2002 and from 2004-2010 I worked for one of the tribes mentioned in the book and had some first hand experience assisting with telemetry tracking of FP 124 for a bit before other folks took over. Suffice to say I heard a lot of the gossip and opinions of folks behind the scenes but didn't quite piece together everything as I was a relative newbie to the area and still a fledgling biologist not long out of college. Over the years I've hurrahed at the ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My sister and I have always been fascinated by the plight of the Florida panther. She is a veterinarian and has a BS in Wildlife Management and I have always been interested in stories about conservation. Like many of the personalities featured in this book, we thought the Florida panther's future was doomed.

Pittman does a phenomenal job explaining how the state mammal became endangered, the current threats to its habitat and way of life, and what is being done to bring the number of panthers
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, science
Good read. A wild story well told
Kathleen Gray
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Terrific! This is both a saga of the effort to save the Florida panther and an expose of the greed and craziness that surrounds it. Oh, and it's a hoot. Florida is home to many many things- wild life, wild weather, wild people- and all it them converge here. You'll learn something, you'll shake your head in dismay, and you will chuckle. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. For those concerned with environmental issues and for fans of Carl Hiaasen and Randy Wayne White. I worry this won't get the ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read about the comeback of the nearly extinct Florida panther . Told with witt and passion you will be amazed at the shadiness of some people and nobility of others . I love Florida and abundant wildlife there .This story takes you right to the heart of what it takes to save a species
Miki Mackennedy
This was an interesting and informative read. I appreciated the author's honesty and humor while imparting historical and scientific information. He didn't shy away from shining a light on the political and human motivations behind the destruction of the panther's habitat or the mission to save them.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Chad Guarino
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Raise your hand if you knew Florida was home to an endangered panther population.

After spending the majority of my life thinking the name of the Florida Panthers hockey team was a bizarre non sequitur, I knew as soon as I saw this book on NetGalley that I had to request it. Cat Tale does not disappoint: it's a bizarre and unexpected look into the long fight to save Florida's state animal, a creature that many developers and politicians would prefer to see either shot or pushed out of its
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a great non-fiction book for someone who's maybe a little bit intimidated by non-fiction. The writing style and tone is just super fun and relaxed, but still managed to stir up a lot of emotions for me(mostly anger). I'm a Florida native, and studying wildlife ecology in Gville, so I already knew most of the basic history and management strategies that were used with our panthers, but it was interesting to read more about the people behind the management and how it impacted their lives.
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is excellent. Pittman is a master at telling a good tale and transitioning between stories and info with a splash of humor. This has the flavor of a fictional story at times. Recommended! 4.5 stars
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wild And Maddening. In this all-too-real tale, Pittman does an excellent job of showing the history of the Florida Panther, how the sub-species came to the brink of extinction, and how government officials bungled the attempt at saving them before begrudgingly doing what it took to save the sub-species. Outstanding work bringing to light an amazing story of the perils of human intervention into natural systems - and how humans can occasionally do something right by those natural systems. Very ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised to like this book about panthers in Florida. It is a lively tale about how the Florida panther made a comeback after being on the brink of extinction. This book is also about the inhabitants of Florida and how they rallied for or railed against bringing back these wild cats. The cover doesn't do it justice, this is an easy recommendation for readers who like to read nonfiction.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance review copy.
Triggers: Animal death, animal extinction, cruelty to animals.

I lived the 1990s in Florida, in a suburb in the central part of the state. Before, and after, the 90s, I traveled their often because family lived there. In all the time I have spent in Florida, I have never seen a Florida panther. You barely even heard anything about them. Occasionally youd see a postcard with one of them on there. And I love/ hate the Florida Panthers NHL team in the late 90s and 2000s.

Even though youd see an
Jordan Stivers
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
An amazing ride the whole way through. I know nothing about the Florida panther (which makes sense since I've only been in the state twice) but I really like deep dives into the state and history of various species throughout the United States. What I enjoyed most about this book in particular was how fun and casual it was. Most books in the nonfiction science genre can be a bit stiff but I found myself actually chuckling aloud at the author's jokes and the absurdity of the state government's ...more
Robyn Ring
So, I think this little book was a great story!

I had not heard of Craig Pittman, nor was I aware of the issues that Florida's panthers faced, although I knew that panthers and people, despite starting with the same letter, do not coexist well. It is no surprise that as people take the home land out from under wild animals that they are going to be the ones to shrink and suffer. It is the good at the center of man that makes them try to find some acceptable compromise.

I loved Craig Pittman's
Christie Bane
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the story not only or even mostly of the Florida panther, but also of the individuals and bureaucracies working both for and against it. The Florida panther is like a cougar or mountain lion theyre technically the same species but the Florida panther is geographically isolated so its considered a different population. I did not know that mountain lions from Texas were imported to strengthen the Florida panther bloodlines since they were a closed gene pool and therefore afflicted by ...more
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Craig Pittman is the author of "Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country," a timely and hilarious look at how the Sunshine State became the Punch Line State, and yet still manages to secretly influence people all across the country. He's also written "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid," (2012) which delves into the wild ...more

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