Monday, May 1, 2023

BOOK FEATURE: The Cat's Meow (How Cats Evolved from the SAVANNA to YOUR SOFA) by Jonathan B. Losos

 FROM CAT AND DOG CHAT WITH CAREN: Why is this a "book feature" and not a bona fide review? Because to be quite honest, I didn't get a quarter of a way through this 350+ page tome! As a result, I am going to share the press release below and interject a few things from the pages that I DID read. The Cat's Meow will definitely require A LOT of spare time to read (I definitely hope to finish it in the not-too-distant future), one can ever have enough information/insights about cats, their origin and their future. It is one of those books where you can read the chapter titles and zero in on the ones that are of particular interest to you if you do not have time to read the entire book. You could return to other chapters at a later time).

This May, Viking is thrilled to publish THE CAT’S MEOW: How Cats Evolved from the Savanna to Your Sofa (on-sale May 3, 2023) from leading evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos. Cats may be the most popular pet on the planet—in fact, as I write this, one of my two cats is begging for food (classic)—but they still seem to have only one paw out of the wild. In this illuminating book, Losos reveals the past, present, and future of our feline companions.


In the vein of books that dig deep into the biology of one species, such as The Book of Eels by Patrik Svensson and The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman, THE CAT’S MEOW puts domestic cats under the spotlight. Since its evolutionary origins in Africa, the cat has been transformed in comparatively little time into one of the most successful and diverse species on the planet. Jonathan Losos, writing as both a scientist and a cat lover, explores how researchers today are unraveling the secrets of the cat.


In a genial voice, Losos explores new scientific investigations into the present and past, from research on cat territoriality and predation, to DNA studies of Egyptian cat mummies. He also touches on the future, and the repercussions of the manipulation of evolution by cat breeders. How has selection, both natural and artificial, over the last several millennia shaped the contemporary cat, with new breeds vastly different in anatomy and behavior from their ancestral stock? THE CAT’S MEOW seeks to explain all this, and is full of interesting facts such as:


Each cat probably has its own meows that he/she uses in different situations. Cats may have even evolved to meow and purr because human auditory systems prefer high-pitched sounds.


Despite popular belief, cats are not loners! In dense cat populations, cats live in social groups and behave amicably with fellow group members – grooming, rubbing, and cuddling—just like lions.


The earliest evidence of humans and cats associating comes from graves found on Cyprus from about 9,500 years ago. By about 3,500 years ago, cats were household pets in ancient Egypt.

FROM CAT AND DOG CHAT WITH CAREN: Here are a few facts that I took away from the book as well:

"if you can read the expressions and body posture of your cat, you can understand what a lion or tiger is thinking."

"the African wildcat is the species from which domestic cats arose."

"cats are not objects. They're living, sentient beings, and we certainly interact with them as such. (The author goes on to say) "for this reason I will not use "it" in reference to a cat. To avoid using "he", "she", or similarly awkward conventions, I'll alternate between referring to generic cats as females in even-numbered chapters and males in odd-numbered chapters. Of course when discussing specific, real cats, I will refer to them according to their real sex."

AUTHOR BIO: Jonathan B. Losos is an evolutionary biologist at Washington University and the founding director of the Living Earth Collaborative, a unique biodiversity center and partnership between Washington University, the Saint Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Garden. He was previously a professor of biology at Harvard and a curator at the university’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. He has won awards from the National Academy of Sciences, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the American Society of Naturalists.



"If you have ever lived with a feline long enough to reach an accommodation, you’ve probably asked yourself: Am I training the cat, or is the cat training me? That question is a gateway to the labyrinth of fascinating riddles explored by Jonathan Losos—himself a lifelong ailurophile as well as an eminent  evolutionary biologist—in this engaging and very smart book." – David Quammen, author of The Song of the Dodo and Breathless

The Cat’s Meow by Jonathan Losos is an impressive and enlightening deep dive into how our beloved feline companions found their way into our hearts and homes. Recommended reading for all cat lovers.” – Pam Johnson-Bennett, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and author of CatwiseCat vs. Cat, and Think Like a Cat
“A fascinating, evidence-based look at how we have lived with cats for thousands of years - with an eye on where our relationship with cats might go in the future. The Cat's Meow is an engaging journey through cat evolution and domestication.” – Mikel Delgado, Ph.D, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
"What does the future hold for humankind’s other best friend? Reaching back into the evolutionary history of the cat family, brought right up to date with the emergence of new breeds and hybrids, this fascinating book deserves to be on every cat-lover's nightstand." –John Bradshaw, author of Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet


In Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy to feature on the blog. I was not given financial compensation.


  1. This book looks amazing and I see our public library is going to purchase it soon. I will wait 'til then and read. Thank you for sharing or I wouldn't have know about this.

    1. Lynn thank YOU!!! When you finish it I would love to know what you thought about it!

  2. It sounds like a very interesting and informative book.

  3. Love the cover and it sounds like a great read.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Caren. Scritches to the boys. ♥

  4. As a science fan and a long-time cat mom to many alley cats, that is a book that sounds like it is right up my alley, so to speak! I'm weathering a serious long health crisis so it may be awhile before I regain the stamina and focus needed to read this but I'm so glad to know about it!

    1. Oh no Leah I am so sorry!!!! Sending prayers and ((hugs))) hoping you will be ok!

  5. Nice review. That looks like a great book. XO

  6. That does look like quite the book. Honestly I had no idea feline pronouns were a hot item too.

  7. Sound so good ! Mom just adds up to her list ♥
    Have a great week

  8. We have lots to learn about cats! I don't think Penny has met one yet.

  9. One can never seem to know enough about cats, even though right now we are kitty-less...I still enjoy learning all about them. This book sure covers a lot of territory!
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Benji, Dalton, Petcretary Ingrid. (Google won't let me in with my regular log in...sheesh!)

  10. This sounds like a good one, Caren! Thank you for sharing. When I have some free time (ha! What's that???), I am going to check it out! XO

    1. I TOTALLY get it dear furiend and YOU are busier than I am!