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Cat summary

Katharine M. Rogers

How humanity fell in love with our feline companions

4.1 (80 ratings)
11 mins

Brief summary

"Cat" by Katharine M. Rogers is a comprehensive history of felines and their place in human society. Covering topics such as breeding, mythology, and art, this book provides an entertaining and informative look at the world of cats.

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    Cats have evolved over millions of years and domestication occurred only a few thousand years ago.

    Maybe you have a cat curled up on your lap right now. The way it naps and happily purrs throughout the day can make your feline friend seem rather unassuming.

    Yet today’s cuddly cats actually have a fascinating backstory involving 30 million years of evolution.

    The first cat, known as Proailurus, weighed around 20 pounds and spent most of its time hanging out in trees. It had a long slender body that resembled today’s civet, and, compared to the modern cat, it had more teeth and a less complex brain.

    Then, following 10 million years of evolution, Pseudaelurus emerged. While this species still had a longer body, it had teeth similar to modern-day cats.

    From Pseudaelurus, two different relatives emerged: the sabre-toothed cats, which became extinct (along with their prey) around 10,000 years ago, and Felinae, the ancestors of our beloved cat.

    Unfortunately, fossil records aren’t perfect and it remains unclear how these first felines evolved into the domesticated cat. But fossils that have been found reveal that its close relative, the wildcat, has been around for as long as two million years.

    As for domestication, while the ancient Egyptians were close with their pet cats, widespread domestication as we know it today didn’t take place until the eighteenth century.

    However, before humans took cats into their homes, we already had an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship; they often lived close to our settlements and helped keep them free of rodents.

    But then, around 2000 BC, the Egyptians began a new and close relationship with their cats, which they documented in paintings on tomb walls that date back to 1450 BC. These paintings capture domestic scenes of family members and their cats sitting nearby, being fed or sometimes even being held on a leash.

    After the ancient Egyptians, it wouldn’t be until around the seventeenth-century in Europe that the status of the cat would start to shift from being a helpful mouse catcher to that of a cherished pet.

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    What is Cat about?

    Cat (2006) offers a lovingly detailed look at the biological, historical and cultural history of our furry feline friends. Each blink looks at a different stage of development, chronicling how the relationship between humans and cats has evolved from horrific superstitious misunderstandings to domesticated bliss. Meow!

    Cat Review

    Cat (2014) by Katharine M. Rogers is an insightful exploration of the complex and mysterious feline species. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It delves into the historical and cultural significance of cats, revealing their diverse roles and symbolism throughout human history.
    • With a wealth of fascinating anecdotes and stories, it provides a captivating glimpse into the unique behaviors and traits of these enigmatic creatures.
    • The book also explores the emotional connection and companionship between cats and humans, shedding light on the profound impact they can have on our lives.

    Best quote from Cat

    As we have become less comfortable with hierarchical order, we expect cats (as well as dogs) to be equal companions. . .

    —Katharine M. Rogers
    example alt text

    Who should read Cat?

    • Cat lovers
    • Those curious about the symbolic meaning of cats
    • Readers interested in cultural history

    About the Author

    Katharine M. Rogers is a professor emeritus of English literature at the City University of New York, and has written extensively on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. As an author, Rogers has shown her interest in a wide range of subjects with books such as Meet the Invertebrates and Port – A Global History. Rogers is now retired and currently lives in Maryland, where she indulges in her passion for national history.

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    Cat FAQs 

    What is the main message of Cat?

    The main message of Cat is the complexities and beauty of the feline-human bond.

    How long does it take to read Cat?

    The reading time for Cat varies, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Cat a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Cat is a delightful read. It offers insights into the fascinating world of cats and their impact on our lives.

    Who is the author of Cat?

    The author of Cat is Katharine M. Rogers.

    What to read after Cat?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Cat, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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