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The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats: A Journey Into the Feline Heart [Kindle Edition]

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $3.96 (28%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In the hugely popular New York Times bestseller, Dogs Never Lie About Love, provocative psychoanalyst Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson brilliantly navigated the inner landscape of “man’s best friend.” Now he delves deep into the secretive, playful world of cats, revealing emotions, debunking myths, and honoring the feline’s evolution from solitary jungle creature to human companion.

Drawing from literature, history, animal behavioral research, and the wonderful true stories of cat experts and cat lovers around the world, Jeffrey Masson vividly explores the delights and mysteries of the feline heart. But at the core of this remarkable book are Masson’s candid, often amusing observations of his own five cats. Their mischievousness, aloofness, and affection provide a way to examine emotions from contentment to jealousy, from anger to love.

Consider the question: Are cats selfish? While human egocentricity is defined by how little a person cares about others, the cat’s narcissism is not like that at all. Cats may appear self-centered, but they watch us all the time, taking us in. They see us; they notice us–a far cry from vanity.

Cats are curious, a trait that rarely kills them. On the contrary, it gives them the chance to assess, in their own idiosyncratic way, whether we are worthy of their attention. Cats are happy to be themselves. What they think of us is a different question entirely. “We need cats to need us,” notes Masson, “It unnerves us that they do not. However, if they do not need us, they nonetheless seem to love us.”

The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats will captivate readers with its surprises and insights, offering a new perspective on the deep connection shared by humans and their feline friends. This is the book that Masson’s many fans and cat lovers everywhere have been waiting for.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

Non-cat people frequently describe cats as selfish, unfriendly, and frustratingly independent, while a true cat lover can see these same traits and wax poetic. The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats is truly an ode to the wonderful and mysterious behavior of our furry friends--even when the behavior at hand is narcissism or jealousy. Author Jeffery Moussaieff Masson (Dogs Never Lie About Love) explores the lives of his five cats as they relate to his family, each other, and the world around them, filled as it is with such interesting creatures as butterflies, automobiles, and visiting humans.

Each chapter is devoted to a study of a particular emotion, ranging from love to playfulness to anger. While there are interesting tidbits of animal science, such as "cats look away or blink when feeling friendly," the majority of the book revolves around the author's observations of his own pets. When he suggests answers for mysterious behavior like the grooming that instantly turns into a bloodthirsty brawl, he is never absolute, but merely offers one among many possible explanations. Kind and thoughtful, Masson's entertaining tales and wise musings will be appreciated by any cat fancier. --Jill Lightner

From Publishers Weekly

Prevailing wisdom holds that cats are aloof, smug, quintessentially distant-especially when compared to dogs-but Masson, in his latest exploration of feelings in the animal world, argues otherwise: "cats," he says, "are almost pure emotion." He establishes nine basics (narcissism, love, contentment, attachment, jealousy, fear, anger, curiosity and playfulness) and, in nine casual and sometimes digressive chapters, suggests when and why cats feel each of them and how we humans might better understand our pets as a result. In the tradition of his bestselling Dogs Never Lie About Love, Masson's exploration is a warm fuzzy to the feline world: in observing the antics of his five cats (Miki, Moko, Yossie, Megalamandira and Minnalouche), Masson's tone never fails to convey his wonder for "these perfect beings who briefly and softly grace my life." He draws desultorily on history, scientific research and correspondence with cat experts and owners, but most of his book is dedicated to a highly subjective study of his beloved five, who live with him in a New Zealand paradise. Though Masson strains to establish evidence for cats' sophisticated emotional landscape (and in doing so exposes himself to accusations of anthropomorphism), cats are still mysterious creatures, and even a former psychoanalyst such as he must occasionally admit (though with a certain kind of glee) that he cannot entirely figure them out. One thing's for sure: because cats, unlike humans and dogs, have never been pack animals, much of what comes naturally to us-guilt, apology, even rage-is absent in cats. In the end, this appealing book seems as much a portrait of Masson as it is of his enchanting cats.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 785 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345448839
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 29, 2002)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,174 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So-so September 25, 2003
By Wombat
The plus side.... I found it an engaging read, and it did make me study my three cats more than I normally do. I like his assessments that there are more to cats then what we see on a surface view, and I agreed with most of the emotions listed and how they manifest themselves. The writing style was well done, and I liked the contemplative style of his prose.
The negative side... The author does not seem to realize that most of us do not live in rural beaches and rain forests, and for the vast majority of cats out there, the environment outside is hostile to small domestic animals. I am a volunteer in a cat shelter, and have been the unfortunate witness to many a bad situation caused by owners wanting their cats to be able to run free. I found it surprising that someone who was so anti-declawing (which I applaud) could be so naive as to the perils outside. Cats and toddlers alike may yearn to run into the street, but it doesn't mean those who are responsible for them should allow them to do so. I suppose it is not surprising; after all, it came from an author who was willing to give away a cat who had gotten somewhat cranky in middle age, as well as one who seems nonchalant at the end that his wandering cats were no longer spending their nights at home. But for someone who is truly concerned about their cat's welfare, the casual attitude was a bit hard to swallow. I am hoping that his current cats do not end up getting squished by a car like he admits the rest of them had in California.
Buy the book? No. But it might be worth checking out at the library.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time November 1, 2004
Unfortunately, I did purchase this book as a guide to understanding my cat better. I guess I should have realized it would only help understand the author's cats better. Purely anecdotal accounts, no real expertise or science to his assertions. That may sound like no big deal, but realistically, every cat owner has a cute little story about their cat and an opinion about what they are thinking. So I was hoping this would go beyond his cute little cat stories. Frankly, by the third section, everything he said was running together, as there were no real main points presented. Also, I found it tiring to hear him talk about himself so much. Even his cats don't get full focus in this book, it's mostly him and his swims and walks on the beach. I wanted some depth and got a shallow swim with this one.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This guy knows little about cats December 31, 2002
By A Customer
I have been a multiple cat owner all of my life and was hoping this would be an inciteful read given the author's previous popular works - what a disappointment. His assessment of cats personalities is elementary, and loaded with generalizations. Cats personalities vary widely and you cannot write a book based on spending 1 year with kittens, particularly the exotic breeds that he has. He states the obvious as if it was a revelation (i.e. cats ancestors are naturally solitary hunters which he states over and over again as rationale for his opinions) - DUH!! He rambles quite a bit in each chapter and sometimes contradicts opinion from one chapter to the next. Some stuff was out an out wrong (i.e. "All cats immediately warm up to humans but not to their own species" - say WHAT?). About the only thing I liked were his opinions on declawing, and agreement that cats would prefer to be free to roam. But thats just not possible for many these days - and to say that cats who cannot are not truly happy is an ego stroke to the author (who lives in New Zealand where his cats can roam - I doubt he moved there for his cats sake).
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This is not the book about cats that it wants to be. The acclaimed author is uncomfortably personal and intrusive and manages to be in the way like a young father too proud of his new video camera to just tape his children at play. To budding authors, this book could serve as a warning: What can go wrong when you become too famous for your own good and you believe your audience will find you as interesting as you find yourself. Who cares whether the author is a personal friend of other authors? A good editor will help (read: force) an eager and proud writer to remove himself from his treatment of the topic and make it interesting to people who have no interest in the author, and this is more important the more famous the author. Nancy Miller is acknowledged with editing this book, but it is depressingly unedited. The author is also a "provocative psychoanalyst", but there is no evidence of a scholastic aptitude here. To make matters worse, a childhood encounter with a narcissistic literary critic is only related on page 6, not learned from: That paragraph describes how the entire book feels to the reader. Do look inside the book.
However, if you tolerate the author and want to snuggle up with your cat and him for company, it may be an OK book to read a chapter from each night, as it is both charming and sometimes amusing, but if you intend to study or just learn about the presumed emotional lives of cats, forget it. This reviewer believes that cats communicate with us the same way music does, directly to our emotions before thought can intervene, and sought more information on the emotional bond between cat and human.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Love cats, interesting book.
Published 23 days ago by mhc
3.0 out of 5 stars nothing you don't really know
Reviewing this book reminds me that I should list it for sale on Amazon, or donate it. It's okay but not really worth the space on my shelf. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amani
5.0 out of 5 stars Cat Lover! ♡
I read this book in freshman year of high school and on my senior I bought it because its a book I just couldn't forget about I love it and it was in GREAT condition! Read more
Published on March 5, 2013 by Elissa M.
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!
this is one fascinating book. he really delves into alot of things i had never thought about with my own cats. really a must read.
Published on February 15, 2013 by D. Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars This Book is an Example of Writing Something Because it Will Sell
I found this book arrogant and misleading. I have lived with cats all my life and I have always found them to be compelling and unique, each one onto itself. Read more
Published on February 10, 2012 by Laura M. Cospito
4.0 out of 5 stars another perspective
I thought it was a delightful and informative book and it gives me a much broader perspective on cats and their lives. Certainly it's not a how-to book. Read more
Published on December 2, 2011 by Silvia
2.0 out of 5 stars Myopic view of cats
I will not go on very long. There are many reviews here that already say what I want to say. Mr Masson is no authority on cats, and his writing of them is very one-sided. Read more
Published on February 26, 2011 by I. Crowfeather
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming and enlightening stories of le chats
Good insight into one of my favorite animals; we have many, but I found the stories quite charming and informative. Read more
Published on June 16, 2009 by Jolierey
5.0 out of 5 stars In defense of this book
I'm almost annoyed that I feel compelled to write a slightly defensive and certainly protective review of this book but there you have it. Read more
Published on April 30, 2009 by Cynthia S. Connelly
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and informative read
Despite being almost narrative, Masson's book is based on facts about the feline world. Some questions about the cats I've had through the years were answered, and I was... Read more
Published on May 28, 2008 by Lilja
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More About the Author

Masson has had at least four lives: first as a boy raised to become a "spiritual leader" (see his denunciation of such a life in My Father's Guru). While in the middle of his disillusion, he became a professor of Sanskrit at the University of Toronto. At the same time he trained to become a Freudian analyst. Upon graduation he became Projects Director of the Freud Archives, and was scheduled to move into Freud's house in London when fate intervened: Masson found documents which seemed to show that Freud was right in believing that many women had been sexually abused as children, and that he was wrong to give up this belief, perhaps impelled by societal displeasure at his discoveries. Saying this publicly turned Masson into a psychoanalytic pariah, and he gave up both his professorship and his analytic career to delve into the far more fascinating world of animal emotions. Two of his books, WHEN ELEPHANTS WEEP and DOGS NEVER LIE ABOUT LOVE, were New York Times best-sellers. He became vegetarian as a result of his research, and later, when he looked into the feelings of farm animals, he became even stricter, and no longer eats or uses any animal product (vegan). Harpercollins published his most recent book: THE DOG WHO COULDN'T STOP LOVING: HOW DOGS HAVE CAPTURED OUR HEARTS FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. He lives on a beach in New Zealand with his two sons, Ilan and Manu, and his German wife, Leila, a pediatrician who works with children on the autistic spectrum (using the bio-medical approach), Benjy, a golden lab, and three cats. They often travel to the States, Europe, and Australia. He is now fascinated in the "us/them" phenomenon, between humans but also between humans and animals.

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