They can be found in pyramids, laid to rest alongside pharaohs, or mummified within the walls of superstitious British homeowners. Going to sea in a pea-green boat or fading to a Cheshire smile, they grace the pages of literature from Aesop to Eliot. They curl up on the hearth, they prowl the bar, they haunt the alleyway. With us since the dawn of culture, cats nonetheless have the shortest history of all domestic animals, a history that circumstances of breeding and temperament have made all the more elusive. What can be known about these creatures, so common yet so enigmatic, Juliet Clutton-Brock reveals in this splendidly illustrated book. Cats: Ancient and Modern documents the development of the feline and its special relationship with people over 7,000 years.
Employing her distinctive blend of expert knowledge and narrative charm, Clutton-Brock introduces us to the modern cat's wild relatives and distant ancestors in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as the Middle Ages. She considers feline behavior in nature and in relation to human society and shows us how attitudes toward cats differ from period to period and place to place, sometimes manifesting themselves in legends and tales of witchcraft. Making the technical appealingly accessible, Clutton-Brock discusses the taxonomic status of the domestic cat and describes the modern breeds, from short-haired tabby to long-haired Persian to silken Russian blue, that have evolved from the original wild cat.
"This is a beautiful, intelligent, well-written, and fascinating book," writes Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sure to delight cat enthusiasts, it will also interest those curious about our most mysterious house pet.