Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cat book review: The Secrets of Lost Cats by Nancy Davidson

blind cat and book

What happens to families when their cats escape and can't be found? How long do they keep on looking? Do they ever get to see their cats again?

These are the sorts of questions Nancy Davidson tries to answer with The Secrets of Lost Cats: One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love, and her answers may surprise you.

I was interested in this book, as my neighborhood explodes with lost cat posters in the springtime. The weather warms up just a touch, and people seem willing to fling open their doors and let their cats explore at will. Many don't seem capable of getting back home again, and their owners beg for help with these little posters.

Davidson treats these posters like a mystery, and she devotes a chapter to each poster she finds. She contacts the writer, takes notes during the conversation, and then writes up her thoughts.

Spoiler alert: Many of the cats in these posters don't make it back home again. And second spoiler: Much of this book has to do with humans, not cats.

As a rule, cats make for terrible interview subjects. They don't speak clearly, and they're reluctant to share information. Since Davidson can't interview the cats, she talks with the people. And since she's a therapist, she talks a lot about how her interview subjects either do or don't fit into specific psychological profiles.

I found a lot of this really fascinating. For example, it wouldn't occur to me to think that a cat's disappearance could trigger a childhood feeling of abandonment. And, it wouldn't occur to me to think of a repeating conversation as a symptom of mental illness. Davidson makes these connections, and they say a lot about the mind of a therapist. I liked that.
cat reading a book
But I suppose I wanted the book to be more about cats, not about cat owners. The title implies that we'll learn about felines, so I thought this book would discuss where cats go when they're lost or how they survive when they're free and clear. I thought I'd see notes about tracking and rescue and miraculous survival. Instead, there's a lot of kitty introduction followed by human stuff. It's interesting, but I wanted more cat things.

Regardless, I would recommend this book for cat readers. The writing is really beautiful, and some of the insights Davidson provides are profound. I walked away with a lot to ponder.

I just wish there were more cat stories. Maybe in a sequel?

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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