Wild Cats of the World by Luke Hunter, Illustrated by Priscilla Barrett (Bloomsbury, $40.00, 240 pages)
Wild Cats of the World is a coffee table sized book that at first glance looks like it would be the perfect gift for any feline lover. The book examines 38 species of small and big cats, augmented with beautiful photos and sketches. It also imparts interesting information, like the fact that female cats are actually more efficient hunters than males – since they don’t stalk things they can’t kill, and that wildcats can live a full 19 years in captivity. It’s also repeatedly stated that wildcats can and do interbreed with domestic cats.
Unfortunately, this book has several weaknesses. Hunter is far too concerned with what each type of cat kills and eats; there are too many photos of cats with their prey – which deems it unsuitable to be kept around children; and the book over-emphasizes the issue of extinction of species. What could have been a joyful celebration of the world’s most successful mammal – one that exists in both large and small forms – becomes a depressing, dragged-out, textbook-like read.
There’s not enough attention paid to the 43 breeds of domestic cats, which are far from extinct with 500 million of them serving as beloved pets, and an additional 500 million living as feral creatures. (500 million feral versions of Felis catus/Felis silvestris definitely equals a very successful type of wild cat!) And the high-priced book is poorly edited (“[a] survey must… continue for a long enough to sample…”).
Overall, a miss instead of a hit.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book was released on October 13, 2015.
Note: There’s another book titled Wild Cats of the World, authored by Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist (Chicago University Press).
Cat Telling Tales: A Joe Grey Mystery by Shirley Rousseau Murphy (William Morrow, $19.99, 384 pages)
Just in time for the holidays, this Joe Grey mystery dishes up a warm serving of human kindness. Of course there’s plenty of evil and mayhem for the team of kitties and their humans to get their teeth into. There are human victims in the mix, old and young, dead and alive. (Please see the prior review of Cat Coming Home on this site for background on the story line. The review, “Dead Man’s Curve”, was posted on November 17, 2010.)
As with prior books in this series, Cat Telling Tales provides an opportunity to champion the victims of crime. Rather than a specific victim, in this tale the focus is on the pets that have been dumped by folks made homeless by the economic meltdown in recent years. Author Murphy provides ample evidence of how pets are abandoned and what can be done to put their lives back together. She champions the townsfolk who take the time and make the effort to gather the resources to give the abandoned pets a fresh start. Readers who love cats, and dogs for that matter, can use the ideas presented for fundraisers in their own communities or join their local organizations that are the counterparts to ones referenced in the book. (Please see the links and contact information below for the organizations supported by this site.)
Not all the victims in this tale were guiltless; however, in the hierarchy of crime murder takes the top spot. The body count adds up to three this time around. Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit are joined by Misto who was introduced in the aforementioned book as the older yellow tom cat. As is her style, Ms. Murphy enriches her cast with yet another newcomer. Yes, he’s fascinating and he does catch Kit’s attention. Some things don’t change.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Cat Telling Tales was released on November 22, 2011.
Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary – Sacramento, CA
http://www.happytails.org/ E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (916) 556-1155
Sacramento SPCA – Sacramento County
http://www.sspca.org/ Telephone: (916) 383-7387