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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 288 pages.

The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions - Thomas McNamee

I only meant to read chapter 4 yesterday, but didn't remember that until I was half-way through chapter 5.  The two chapters really go hand-in-hand though so it made sense.


These chapters discuss the fact that cats are considered to be only semi-domesticated by people who consider these things (scientists, I presume) and what that means for the humans who share their lives and homes with them.  This is where behavioural issues are discussed - not in depth, but still informatively.  He spends some time in chapter 4 discussing - in a refreshingly frank and balanced way - two of the more 'famous' cat ... whisperers. (Ugh. That term.)  Both seem just this side of snake oil salesman, but as McNamee points out, it's hard to argue with some of their results.  By far, this was the most practically informative chapter in the book for me yet.  


The good news is I have two beautifully adjusted cats and one semi-adjusted cat.  The bad news is that the only tool offered to combat a yowling cat is shaking a can of loose coins, which is problematic on a number of levels for us, not the least of which is the effect rattling a jar of coins will have on all our sanity at 4am.


Chapter 5 discussed truly wild cats; the feral cat populations around the world.  Can I just say, I love Italy.  You can keep their pasta and pizza, I am in love with their cat laws.  It's illegal to euthanise cats in Italy; the government pays not only for a spay/neuter program country-wide, but also has programs set up to feed and care for the feral populations.  Now that is a country I'd willing pay taxes to.  The other incredible thing is the number of volunteers that watch over these colonies and really care for them.  The whole thing is amazing beyond belief.


Unfortunately, it's not the cure all we need for controlling the feral cat population, as McNamee is honest enough to point out.  Italy's program will never be truly successful (though it sounds more successful than any other to date) without a complete re-education and cultural shift of the human population.  If people don't take responsibility for the cats in their lives and neighbourhoods, there will always be a fresh infusion of feral cats.  And if Italy, with it's already fabulous philosophy and dedication requires that much more work, you can imagine how impossibly steep the curve is for the USA, where compassion for others of any species is thin on the ground, and for Australia, where if your not a marsupial they don't want to know about you.  I had to do a lot of skimming in this chapter because after Italy, the facts and stats are horrible.


This chapter also includes a brief discussion on the stupidity of breeding our house cats with wild cats (the possible exception being the Bengal, which was done for scientifically valid reasons; the cross breeding failed to meet the primary objective, but did result in a beautifully docile hybrid).  This, with the exception just mentioned, never ends well and is hell on both the cats and the people.  This stupidity is compounded by those that try to actually keep wild cats as pets.  There's a special place in hell for people who do this, and I hope it involves a cage.  This section was almost impossible for me to read.


There are three more chapters left, but there's not a chance in hell I can read chapter 7; flipping through and just catching a sentence choked me up, so I'll be pausing a bit until others in the group catch up.