Published by Abrams
Publication date: October 1st 2012
Genres: Essays, Non-fiction
Every year, Americans welcome more pets into their homes and more Americans become pet owners. For those of us who find the ultimate solace in the soft sweet warmth of a purring furball, The Life and Love of Cats, is a visual feast, as well as interesting reading, about the 600 million felines that share the planet with us. And we do love our cats, spending over four billion dollars a year on cat food in the U.S., one billion more than is spent on baby food. But are we ever certain how they feel about us? Author and photographer Lewis Blackwell explores this and many other questions in the book.
“The cat is domestic only as far as suits its own ends”
The Life and Love of Cats is divided into nine chapters to mirror the mythical nine lives of the cat. Some of these chapters are what might be expected in a book about a species: Evolution, Breeds, Domestic, and Wild but it is the more unusual chapters that draw the reader in. In Senses, the facts, combined with detailed and up-close pictures are mesmerizing and in Healing, there is data from a 2008 University of Minnesota study showing that, from a population of 4,500 people aged 30-75, the risk of heart attack was 40% higher in those who had never owned a cat (rate was adjusted to rule out other risk factors). The chapter, Eternal, looks at the mythology and folklore surrounding cats, going from Egyptian times, when they were creatures of the gods, to Medieval days, when they were demonized.
It is clear that Blackwell loves his subject. The photography is exquisite and while there are plenty of the cover-your-mouth-and-squeal kitten shots, his range extends far beyond that to both the more esoteric and the familiar in the feline world. The text is thoughtful and well-researched, clearly acknowledging a love for cats, but also that, even with knowledge, the cat remains an elusive creature. This is a book that engages both the eyes and the mind and is one animal lovers of all stripes will find fascinating.
On that note, dog lovers don’t despair. Blackwell admits to being that rarest of breeds—the human who loves cats and dogs equally so it is possible you’ll have your turn at some point. Until then, The Life and Love of Cats is an elegant and loving look at a creature who is the same.
© 2012, Lewis Blackwell
From The Life and Love of Cats, published by Abrams