The Age of Cats: From the Savannah to Your Sofa

By Jonathan B. Losos

The past, present and future of the world’s most popular and beloved pet, from a leading evolutionary biologist and great cat lover.

‘Engaging and wide-ranging … The Age of Cats is a readable and informed exploration of the wildcat that lurks within Fluffy’ Washington Post

Why don’t lions meow? Why does my cat leave a dead mouse at my feet? And why is a pet ocelot a bad idea?

Jonathan B. Losos unravels the secrets of the cat using all the tools of modern technology, from GPS tracking (you’ll be amazed where they roam) and genomics (what is your so-called Siamese cat, really?) to forensic archaeology. He tells the story of the cat’s domestication (if you can call it that) and gives us a cat’s-eye view of the world today. Along the way we also meet their wild cousins, whose behaviours are eerily similar to even the sweetest of house cats.

Drawing on his own research and life in his multi-cat household, Losos deciphers complex science and history and explores how selection, both natural and artificial, over the millennia has shaped the contemporary cat.

Yet the cat, ever a predator, still seems to have only one paw out of the wild, and readily reverts to its feral ways as it occupies new habitats around the world. Looking ahead, this charming and intelligent book suggests what the future may hold for the special bond between Felis catus and Homo sapiens.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 11 May 2023
Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-0-00-833946-3
Jonathan B. Losos is an evolutionary biologist at Washington University and the founding director of the Living Earth Collaborative, a unique biodiversity centre 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.Jonathan is also the author of Improbable Destinies: How Predictable is Evolution?

”'Excellent. Losos is an engaging and often funny guide who explains the science clearly and with nuance” - New Scientist

‘Losos is entertaining and anecdotal, learned and chatty … The book, surveying cats’ evolutionary history, behavioural habits and potential future, has a lovely cast list of felines wild and domestic, large and small’ Spectator -

”'Cats are amazing. They fascinate and bewilder us … [The] cat stories detailed here will only heighten the reader's amazement. And Losos has done cats at least as proud as we imagine they pride themselves” - Science

”'A must-read” - Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today

”'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

”'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 Spillover and The Song of the Dodo

”'Fascinating, fun and full of facts, this thorough investigation will appeal to general readers and cat lovers alike” - Booklist

”'Not just another cat book, this enthusiastic study traces the evolution of the domesticated house cat from the African wildcat and explores the scientific questions it raises … A vivid, well-rounded treat for anyone interested in cats.” - Kirkus Reviews

‘Splendid … The surprising trivia … and stimulating scientific background shed light on what goes on in the minds of humans’ second-best friend’ Publisher’s Weekly -