The author, Thomas McNamee, is a writer of books about animals who live in the wild (e.g., bears, wolfs). As this is the only book I’ve read of his, I’m assuming from The Inner Life of Cats that his writing style is weighted toward the scholarly as opposed to the popular. Though this book is most definitely a mix of the two. For example, Chapter Two “Becoming a Cat” and Chapter Three “Thinking? Talking?”, read as if they have been written for a popular science book. Whereas, elsewhere, the book is unashamedly a love letter to Augusta, the cat he and his partner lived with and whose life runs the book’s narrative arc. This mix of popularism and science mostly works but sometimes it felt like I was reading two different books stitched together. Moreover, there’s a tension between the unashamed “cat lover” and the “scientist” as the author works through the customary set of issues that books about cats generally address. I have some trouble with Chapter Five “The Wild Animal at Large” because of the way it describes and discusses feral cats and the issues associated with them. He gets things wrong, makes incorrect assumptions, and omits key points. In the next chapter, he quotes at length Bernard Rollin without referencing him. Nonetheless, McNamee clearly likes cats and loved Augusta as it shines through the writing. His positions about cats is generally strong and correct but there are times when I think he is ill-informed and wrong. And confused or conflicted but fails to recognise this. For example, he calls for various measures to address the population of feral cats because they hunt and kill birds, mice and other animals (he buys into the flawed meta-analysis) but always set Augusta free to go outside to live out her natural instincts to, er, hunt and kills birds, mice and other animals.

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