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On Cats Hardcover – October 7, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Ms. Lessing applies her formidable powers of observation to the beasts she calls ‘exotic visitors, household friends.’” (Wall Street Journal)

“Endearing and wise.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“[Lessing] captures the passionate gregariousness of her cats...What she does best is describe their relations with one another...Doris Lessing...opens our eyes to the world of cats.” (New York Times)

“Lessing’s prose catches at the heart, close-ups of cats in unforgettable word paintings.” (Pittsburg Tribune Review)

About the Author

Winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, Doris Lessing was one of the most celebrated and distinguished writers of our time, the recipient of a host of international awards. She wrote more than thirty books—among them the novels Martha Quest, The Golden Notebook, and The Fifth Child. She died in 2013.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061672246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061672248
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.9 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My prior experience with Doris Lessing was "Descent Into Hell", so I wasn't expecting a fluff piece on the cuteness of cats when I picked up this book, but that said I do agree with another reviewer (K. Bell) that the number of kitten killings was a bit over the top. I certainly understand life and death are inseparable and do not wish the grimmer realities of owning cats to be tucked behind cute aphorisms; one of the things I enjoyed about this book was that she deftly described many aspects and periods of cat life. However, a little birth control goes a long way, and it was never adequately explained why she was so willing to choose offing the kittens rather than fixing the cats. She seemed to think they were less fully cats or something...I suppose I'm not a complete human either then since I'm on the pill ;)
Still, the writing is fantastic, and it's probably worth a read if you enjoy musing on cat behaviours.
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Format: Hardcover
If I could give this book zero stars, I would. I agree completely with the other reviewers about her gruesome descriptions of killing the unwanted kittens. And her objections to getting her cats spayed so there wouldn't be so many unwanted kittens is just absurd. She writes the repeated matings of her females as if it was some romance novel, not the biological function it is, attributing absurd human emotions to the cats. GET YOUR FEMALES SPAYED, YOU IDIOT!

I love cats and I read the whole thing, hoping it would get better at the end. Finally toward the end, there was less about killing kittens, but there was still a complete lack of emotion from the author. I saw absolutely NO love or caring for any of the cats who had the unfortunate luck to share their lives with her. She was chronicling what happened with the cats, in a very impartial, unemotional way. No emotional connection whatsoever to any of her cats.

I absolutely do NOT recommend this book for cat lovers. I honestly don't know what audience it was intended for. Cat haters maybe?

PLEASE do not purchase this book! Do not support this insult to cats everywhere.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent books on cats. It is unsentimental, yet full of warmth and beautifully written. The domestic tensions between black cat and grey develop the drive of an enjoyable thriller. Killing cats and kittens forms as much a part of Lessing's experience as caring devotedly (and grimly) for a cat on death's door, or rescuing a wild cat and her litter after a rainstorm and feeding sauteed chicken liver to her queenly grey cat. Cats are respected as individuals, even fussed over, yet Lessing never loses her clear-sighted, self-ironic stance, which gives her writing a roominess and poignancy not often found in the literature on animals. By writing on cats Lessing has really written a book about life: this is as much a book about the relationships between cats as it is about cats and humans, about death, friendships, kittens and the passing of time - Very recommendable.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Doris Lessing used to be a favorite author, but I haven't thought about her for years. Then, along came one of those daily emails for discounted or free Kindle books and, voila! I suddenly had a Lessing book I'd never read, a collection of riffs on some particular cats in her life. I felt like one of the family. I was entranced by Lessing's magical thinking about cats. The last story will live in my heart forever.
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