The Lion in the Living Room
How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World
A New York Times bestseller about how cats conquered the world and our hearts in this “deep and illuminating perspective on our favorite household companion” (Huffington Post).
House cats rule bedrooms and back alleys, deserted Antarctic islands, even cyberspace. And unlike dogs, cats offer humans no practical benefit. The truth is they are sadly incompetent mouse-catchers and now pose a threat to many ecosystems. Yet, we love them still.
In the “eminently readable and gently funny” (Library Journal, starred review) The Lion in the Living Room, Abigail Tucker travels through world history, natural science, and pop culture to meet breeders, activists, and scientists who’ve dedicated their lives to cats. She visits the labs where people sort through feline bones unearthed from the first human settlements, treks through the Floridian wilderness in search of house cats-turned-hunters on the loose, and hangs out with Lil Bub, one of the world’s biggest celebrities—who just happens to be a cat.
“Fascinating” (Richmond Times-Dispatch) and “lighthearted” (The Seattle Times), Tucker shows how these tiny felines have used their relationship with humans to become one of the most powerful animals on the planet. A “lively read that pounces back and forth between evolutionary science and popular culture” (The Baltimore Sun), The Lion in the Living Room suggests that we learn that the appropriate reaction to a house cat, it seems, might not be aww but awe.
Debut author Tucker, a writer for Smithsonian and a cat lover, avoids cute cat tales while using the science and history of Felis catus to explore cats' relationship to people. Beginning with a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits, Tucker gives a clear and comprehensible tour of the evolution of the cat. The earliest tamed cats, less domestic recruits than opportunistic invaders, may have just been the boldest of their breed, taking advantage of the food around human encampments. They were not friendly as much as fearless in approaching humans, a trait passed down to their descendants. Tucker neatly moves to the next question: Why did people keep cats around? Environmentally, cats are a disaster. A multitude of places around the world struggle with the chaos cats have caused by overbreeding and killing native creatures. Yet cats remain beloved, possibly because of how much they resemble human young "fictive kin" in the terms of evolutionary psychologists. How do people react to their fictive kin? Tucker's informative interviews with werewolf cat breeders, cat lobbyists, and Internet star Little Bub's owner round out a thoughtful look at the illogical human love of felines.
Well written and often fascinating, but also questionable in some of its ideas and conclusions
I found this to be a well-written book that has a lot of interesting information. At times it can be genuinely fascinating. However, sometimes the book espouses an idea or draws a conclusion that many, if not most, people who understand cats would probably find questionable or even flat-out incorrect. This isn’t a defining quality of the book, though. (But it does happen at several points throughout the book.) Lastly, and this part is largely a matter of my own personal opinion, I sometimes felt as though the author presents herself as more of an expert authority on cats than she actually is in reality. And before you begin making assumptions, I would have felt the same way about the author’s “pseudo-expert” vibe whether the author was a woman or a man or an alien from outer space.
Lion in the living room
I really enjoyed this book. The author has a delightful way of telling you many interesting facts about cats. It is written in a very easy to read style and makes one smile from time to time as you are reading. I never realized the history of cats going back as far as it did and spreading around the world as it did it was all rather fascinating.