by Abigail Tucker (2016)
The intriguing history of how house cats found their way onto our hearths and into our hearts.In her debut, Smithsonian correspondent Tucker takes readers back into prehistory to examine the qualities of such killer cats as saber-tooth tigers and their ilk. Today, big cats are rapidly vanishing, but domesticated cats are thriving. By some estimates, in the United States alone, the tally of pet cats is approaching 100 million. Tucker, a devoted cat lover and owner, brings dozens of points of view about cats through her interviews with archaeologists, veterinarians, biologists, animal ecologists, and research scientists; her time spent observing cat fanciers at pet shows; and her encounters with wildlife refuge managers, animal rights activists, and cat breeders. Cat lovers may be dismayed to learn some of the negatives the author reveals—e.g., the link between cats and serious mental and physical conditions, the threat they pose to birds and other endangered animal populations—and cat owners may be alarmed to read of the vicious behavior of some ordinary house cats. Tucker relates one incident in which cat owners barricaded themselves inside their bedroom and called 911 to be rescued from their fierce little pet. The author also reports the work of hybrid breeders, who are producing some very strange-looking animals. Illustrations would have enhanced this lively and informative book, but readers curious to know what the rare Lykoi, also known as the werewolf cat, looks like can find ample photographs online. As many readers already know, cat videos have taken over the internet, and Tucker explores this phenomenon, visiting such current stars as Lil Bub. Read this entertaining book and you will be convinced that house cats are "the most transformative invaders the world has ever seen"—except for humans, of course. (Kirkus).