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Particularly Cats

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  534 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Doris Lessing recounts the cats that have moved and amused her, from the kittens that overran her childhood home to the wrenching decline of El Magnifico, whose story unfolds in a new essay, appearing here for the first time. Particularly Cats also evokes Lessing's own story in relation to cats, how they affect her and she them, communicating in a language of mood and gesture ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 31st 1978 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1967)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García MárquezRosemary's Baby by Ira LevinThe Chosen by Chaim PotokThe Outsiders by S.E. HintonNicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie
Best Books of 1967
112 books — 49 voters
Dewey by Vicki MyronThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussOld Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. EliotAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollA Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen
Great Cat Books
1,457 books — 847 voters

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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  534 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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(2.5) A book about cats that I would almost hesitate to recommend to cat lovers: it contains many a scene of kitty carnage, as well as some unenlightened resistance to spaying and neutering. Lessing grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe that was at one point overrun with about 40 cats. Her mother went away, expecting her father to have ‘taken care of them’ by the time she got back. He tried chloroform to start with, but it was too slow and ineffective; in the end he rounded them all up in a room and got out ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, mem
It's a pleasure to read a great writer on the subject of my favorite animals.
Rebecca Rosenblum
It makes me happy to know that someone as deeply weird as Lessing is so respected and her work so enjoyed. I have long struggled with her novels but this strange little bit of non-fiction about cats she has known, I loved. Much as I love cats, it's not the cat-lover in me alone that made this book a good fit--many of the cats in Particularly Cats die bloody, graphic deaths so if nothing else, I'm here to warn you about that. The thing is, I love cats and I love good, evocative, true writing and ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cats
One of my favourite books. I can't even remember how many times I've read it. I read this book when I feel low. It is a bit melancholic, but that's what I like about it.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was ok. It really is only about two things. Her childhood recollections of cats on the farming Africa and two of the cats she owned later in life. Not badly written and certainly one many cat lovers would like. It certainly shows why one should get your cats fixed young though. How many litters did they have to deal with? I lost count. I did get the impression that this was written more to pay the bills than for the love of cats. That was the one thing that seemed to be missing in the narrati ...more
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 e * ...more
Claire B. Platteuw
Apr 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: challenge-2018
It's a horror book about cats. Nothing more.
Hilary Hicklin
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The best non-fiction cat book I've ever read. Her love, admiration and respect for cats shines through every line without being in the least bit sentimental. Beautiful observations of cat behaviour.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I tried to upload the photo of the cover of my book but can't find a way to do this. None of the covers shown are like mine.
A thoroughly entertaining story of Lessing's memories of her cats both on the family farm in Africa and later in her apartments in London, England.
So often as she described the actions or thoughts of her cats, it reminded me of my own cats especially since one of them is a Siamese.
My cats are housecats so I am glad to be spared watching my cats kill a mous
Anja Fruelund
I find it hard to rate this book, Doris Lessing is a splendid writer and her observations on cats are very precise, in fact they seemed almost clinical and detached, although she is clearly smitten and fascinated by them. But actually I thought the book was horrible, the way the cats were treated was depressing, not that she mistreated her cats deliberately, it is just so obvious that she didn’t really understand their behaviour. This ignorance and view on cats as being manipulative and scheemin ...more
Peter Tillman
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cats, reread-list
From a 2003 Usenet post:
"Incidentally, Doris Lessing's (non-fiction) cat book, whose title escapes me, is well-worth seeking out. Sharply written and unsentimental. Far superior to any of her fiction, that I've read (or tried to) anyway. Such as her ghastly alleged-SF."

Here's an amusing online review:
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bought, favourites
I cannot explain why this book was such a treasure to me. At the beginning, I was convinced that I would have been seriously disappointed, but I was obviously wrong.
I’ve seen so much of myself through the words of the author and through the eyes of her cats. Their behaviour, so similar to that of my cats, moved me at times. I feel like now I finally get to understand more of their way of being.
Barbara Joan
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delight for cat lovers. Opening couple of chapters are beautifully written.
Julie Michaud
Here's a quote that reverberated with me rather deeply ... bearing in mind that working for a cat rescue group (VOKRA) here in Vancouver BC, I am so grateful that we can help many kitties. But I think if we reflect on what cats experience in their loss of loved ones, as this quote illustrates, it can help us take our responsibilities with heart. Here the author speaks of Rufus, an old bedraggled cat who showed up and wanted to move in:

“For a couple of years this cycle went on. He got well and o
Jan 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I grew up with cats, and loved my cat Mistie very much, so the descriptions of pet cats in this book rang true. As far as a memoir on cat ownership goes, this is your book. Turns out, though, I'm not really much of a cat person anymore. I realised this as soon as I grew up and got my first dog, for which cats are a terrible stand-in. I even felt annoyed at Lessing for being so reluctant to get the damn things fixed. My feelings about cats weren't helped by moving from New Zealand to Australia, w ...more
Tatiana Alejandra de Castro Pérez
I hadn't read anything by Doris Lessing before this book but it was like the book was calling for me on the store. So, on one of my trips to the library I found it and took it home. God, I love the way she writes! Doris Lessing talks about hard issues but she can also be quite poetic while praising a cat. I really enjoyed that parts but also the way she offers her feelings and thoughts and even her memories. I was quite surprised about the huge amount of things she has to tell us about her cats ...more
If T. S. Eliot measured his life in teaspoons, perhaps D. Lessing equated hers in terms of cats' lives. This short work turned out to be a very matter of fact telling of the chronicles of her various cats over the years, their litters, their environments, and their instincts without the overly fluffy moments of cute as can be kittens and gratuitous rainbows. Inset watercolors in this edition were charming.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If cats have delightfully overrun your childhood, as they did mine, the eloquent writer Doris Lessing has a few words for you.

I enjoy giving cat books as gifts but often the ones I find, while fun for me & my family, are not appropriate for some people who don't like cute books or sentimental ones.

Doris Lessing's several collections of musings on the mysterious feline force could be just the ticket when looking for the cat book to give. Or, to keep.
Curt Bobbitt
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lessing's occasional apostrophes to her cats delighted me even more than her narratives about several of her feline friends, particularly four: grey cat (not capitalized), black cat (not capitalized), Rufus, and El Magnifico (many other names)."Brave cat, clever cat, beautiful cat" (87). "Cat from the Shades! Plutonic cat! Cat for an alchemist! Midnight cat!" (110)
Stephanie Chua
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Marvelous, warm, precise piece. One can't help referencing cats and human - the anxiety to new birth, the intimacy with spouse, the inborn playfulness... I find it inspiring in the sense that, one explores men natural basics while wandering through Lessing's lovely observation. A good entry to world of Lessing.
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read this more than a year ago and couldn't get past the first chapter. But I was still curious about Lessing's work and this book, so I came back to it. Hurried back through Chap 1 and continued, to my pleasure, to wonderful writing regarding her cats and her relationships with them. An easy and very pleasant read, although she deals realistically with problems animals face.
Writers love cats because they are complex, quirky, and stubborn!
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Brutal little book about Lessing's life with cats.
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
good light reading for cat lovers
Viktoria Maria
I had to read this book for school and it was okay, but it's not a book that I normally would pick up.
David Smith
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never been a big Lessing fan, but I do like cats so thought this might bring us together - and it did. She is a keen observer - if you too observe cats this is worth a read.
Samantha Garner
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Doris. Only you could write a cat memoir and make it something I miss when I'm not reading.
Mark Mallett
Jun 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
A nice quick read with well-drawn imagery.
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
What a beautiful little book. Although the world was a different place 48 years ago, when this book was published, the language between cat and owner (or vice versa?) has never changed.
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Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Oliv ...more