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The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World (Paperback)
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A New York Times bestseller about how cats conquered the world and our hearts in this “deep and illuminating perspective on our favorite household companion” (Huffington Post).
House cats rule bedrooms and back alleys, deserted Antarctic islands, even cyberspace. And unlike dogs, cats offer humans no practical benefit. The truth is they are sadly incompetent mouse-catchers and now pose a threat to many ecosystems. Yet, we love them still.
In the “eminently readable and gently funny” (Library Journal, starred review) The Lion in the Living Room, Abigail Tucker travels through world history, natural science, and pop culture to meet breeders, activists, and scientists who’ve dedicated their lives to cats. She visits the labs where people sort through feline bones unearthed from the first human settlements, treks through the Floridian wilderness in search of house cats-turned-hunters on the loose, and hangs out with Lil Bub, one of the world’s biggest celebrities—who just happens to be a cat.
“Fascinating” (Richmond Times-Dispatch) and “lighthearted” (The Seattle Times), Tucker shows how these tiny felines have used their relationship with humans to become one of the most powerful animals on the planet. A “lively read that pounces back and forth between evolutionary science and popular culture” (The Baltimore Sun), The Lion in the Living Room suggests that we learn that the appropriate reaction to a house cat, it seems, might not be aww but awe.
About the Author
Abigail Tucker was the first ever staff writer for Smithsonian magazine, where she remains a contributor. She previously wrote for The Baltimore Sun. Her work has been featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing series. The first word of both of her daughters was “cat.” She is the author of The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World.
***A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER***
"In The Lion in the Living Room, three things come together with exquisite, delightful effect: a natural history of cats, replete with ecological issues as well as contemporary cultural memes; evolutionary science as it pertains to the origins and consequences of our fascination with felines; and an unusually deft way with words by author Abigail Tucker. The net result is a deep and illuminating perspective on our favorite household companion… One hesitates to use the word genius, but Tucker’s book borders on that quality."
"Whatever your personal feelings [are] about our feline friends, this is a fascinating story about how cats not only conquered the world but our hearts."
"If you know a cat person who likes science, this is the book you need right meow."
—Smithsonian.com, "The Best Books about Science of 2016"
"Fascinating… If you have relatives or friends who are mad about cats—and the strong statistical probability is that you do—consider putting this book under their Christmas tree."
"With informative first-person excursions to different places and topics, Tucker reviews all aspects of our favorite pet as well as the spell it has cast on us."
—New York Times Book Review
"Eminently readable and gently funny, Tucker's blend of pop science and social commentary will appeal to cat lovers as well as a broad general audience with an interest in natural history."
—Library Journal, starred review
"A thoughtful look at the illogical human love of felines."
"Dig deep into the history, biology, and science of house cats in this charming, highly informative read that explains how cats came to rule."
"[An] intriguing history… Read this entertaining book and you will be convinced that house cats are 'the most transformative invaders the world has ever seen.'"
"Fascinating… Cat lovers, keep watching those cute cat videos online, but back it up with this very serious look at what makes Tabby tick."
“While the title of this book suggests a bit of a fluffy story, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s more of a story about evolution… This book explores how cats went from creatures we feared and conquered to animals that we cuddle and bring into our homes. It makes you think about what’s really going on inside your own cat’s head — because the house cat is still an animal built to kill.”
—Erica Murphy, SEO Editor, The Cut (NYMag.com)
"By turns funny and disturbing, The Lion in the Living Room is full of surprises. Like all the best nonfiction, it will make you think twice about the world around you."
—Elizabeth Kolbert, bestselling author of THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History
"A delightful and warmhearted romp through the history of the world's most puzzling creature: The domesticated cat. A must-read for anyone who has ever owned—or been owned—by felis catus."
—Virginia Morell, bestselling author of ANIMAL WISE: How We Know Animals Think and Feel
"A fresh look at the sphinx-like creature that defies the normal rules of domestication. Abigail Tucker does a humorous, intelligent, and insightful investigation into the genius of cats. A truly wonderful book—and a must read for anyone with a lion in their living room."
—Dr. Brian Hare, bestselling author of THE GENIUS OF DOGS, and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University
"A clear and detailed view of the facts surrounding the furry felines that share our world. After reading this book, no one will ever look at a cat the same way."
—Irene Pepperberg, bestselling author of ALEX AND ME: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence—and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
"From mummification to catification, from cat cafes to feline etiquette manuals to the earliest cat shows at the Crystal Palace, Abigail Tucker's enlightening Lion in the Living Room explores the deep history of the connection between cats of all sizes and colors and the humans who adore them."
—Wendy Williams, bestselling author of THE HORSE: The Epic History of Our Noble Companion
"A remarkable and hilarious journey that tracks cats from solitary, prehistoric carnivores to undisputed world champions of Internet memes. Tucker has written a big-hearted book that’s also a deep science dive into our most inscrutable furry companions."
—David Epstein, bestselling author of THE SPORTS GENE: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
"Science fiction writers fantasize about aliens taking over our world. Too late. House cats have already occupied our homes and our hearts and hunted their way through ecosystems everywhere. The Lion in the Living Room delivers a rich and balanced account of feline world dominion."
—Richard Conniff, author of HOUSE OF LOST WORLDS: Dinosaurs, Dynasties, and the Story of Life on Earth
"I recommend this book for cat lovers, cat haters, and anyone curious to learn how these inscrutable creatures crept out of the Fertile Crescent and clawed their way into our hearts. I’ll never look at my own fluffy little killing machine in quite the same way again."
—Mara Grunbaum, author of WTF, EVOLUTION?!: A Theory of Unintelligible Design
"This book confirmed something I always knew about cats: they're the ones in charge of our relationship. And that's not the toxoplasmosis talking."
—Jim Tews, author of FELINES OF NEW YORK: A Glimpse into the Lives of New York's Feline Inhabitants