Cats: Ancient and Modern

Overview

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. ...

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Overview

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.

A splendidly illustrated book that documents the development of the feline and its special relationship with people over 7,000 years. The author introduces readers to the modern cat's wild relatives and distant ancestors in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as the Middle Ages. 39 color illus. 55 halftones. 17 line illus. Map.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This brief volume provides an overview of the history of the domestic cat and its relationship to humankind. While its length precludes comprehensive treatment, different sections discuss wild relatives to the domestic cat, cats in witchcraft, modern cats and cat breeds, feral cats, and other subtopics. The book is generously illustrated with photographs of cats and reproductions of artworks depicting cats. Clutton-Brock, an archaeozoologist at London's Natural History Museum, has written many other books on domestic animals, including Horse Power: History of the Horse and Donkey in Human Societies ( LJ 8/92). Her concise, informative treatise is recommended for both public and academic libraries.-- Stacy Pober, Manhattan Coll. Libs., New York
Booknews
The intelligent text by a zoologist at the British Museum of Natural History combines with abundant illustrations to treat the cat's place in nature, in ancient times, in legend and witchcraft, and in modern times. The 1988 copyright is held by the Trustees of the British Museum. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674104075
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1993
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 8.74 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Juliet Clutton-Brock is Senior Scientist in the Department of Zoology at the British Museum of Natural History.

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Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

THE CAT'S PLACE IN NATURE

Wild relatives

Reproduction

Behaviour

CATS IN ANCIENT TIMES

Early domestication

Ancient Egypt

The Classical world

The Middle Ages

THE CAT IN LEGEND AND WITCHCRAFT

CATS IN MODERN TIMES

The foundation breeds

Manx

Siamese

Abyssinian

Angora or Persian

Russian Blue

The Cat Fancy

Distribution of the common cat in town and country

Cats in the Orient

Feral cats

Ships' cats

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING

INDEX

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