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The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats Hardcover – August 22, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Part history of a species, part personal memoir, and featuring a healthy dose of wry humor, Clea Simon's The Feline Mystique shares the tale of her particular cat (Cyrus) set against a backdrop of interviews and statistics on cats throughout the world. Smoothly blending mythology with modern stories of dedicated feral cat rescuers, feline fanciers might bond with this book as tightly as they've bonded with their own wee beastie.

The focus is relentlessly female and a happy counterpoint to urban myths and ancient folk tales about lonely women and their up-to-no-good pets. Simon walks us through her initial bond with a young kitten, through the warm years of record-clawing, arm-kneading, keyboard-walking, veterinarian-terrorizing cat companionship, and leads us gently through the sadness of parting with a beloved animal. You won't find practical tips on health care or soapboxes about the problem of strays in the city--just page after page of individualized love and fascination. From Norse goddess Freya and her flying cats to references of a study done on the annual kill of an outdoors-living housecat to an interview with Barnum and Bailey's female tiger tamer, each detail helps construct a solid picture of the multifaceted relationship possible between a woman and her cat. --Jill Lightner

From Library Journal

Simon (Fatherless Women) draws on personal experience, research, and interviews with female cat owners to explore the unique relationship between women and cats. She seeks to dispel negative old wives' tales about women and cats, creating a work that largely offers her own insights and reflections. She also examines how cats and women have been intertwined in historical myths and stereotypes, from the Egyptian cat-headed goddess Bastet, to the 15th-century burning of witches and their feline familiars, to the modern Catwoman. Throughout are stories of women and their cats, including a shelter worker, a tiger trainer, and a number of artists. Simon includes her own touching story of 17 years with her recently deceased cat, Cyrus, and explores how the female-feline relationship affects other relationships in a woman's life. A bibliography and list of cat rescue organizations accompany the work. Lovingly written, Simon's work offers an unusual perspective on an age-old topic and makes a suitable purchase for large public libraries. Eva Lautemann, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 237 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (August 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312268815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312268817
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,448,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jamie Bourgeois VINE VOICE on January 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Well, thank you Clea Simon for writing such a wonderful book about the bond we women have with our cats!
This book is packed with cat women like myself and stories illustrating the points that Clea makes about women and cats. From times before Christ, to ancient Egypt, to modern day, Clea looks at how women get the negative stereotypes that are still present today, as well as looking at why we women love our cats so much. Clea also tells her personal "love story" with her cat. This book also talks about the current feral cat problems, and what women are doing throughout the country to help control this. And yes, there is even women in the book that go a little too far: the cat hoarders.
I also learned something else with this book: I had taken it to work and a few co-workers spotted it. They are on my waiting list to borrow and read this book....turns out there are more women out there who really love their cats than you would imagine. These are the same women who teased me for having a picture of my cat at my desk (and referring to him as "The Handsome Boyfriend").
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book in the course of a weekend. I simply could not put it down. It personifies my relationship with my muse, my cat Henderson. This book sheds a whole new perspective on feelings that I already had for my cat. I would often find myself setting it down after reading something that I could not have said better myself, and just seeing my cat in a much deeper way than I had ever before. I truly recommend this book for ANY woman with a cat in her life, or to any woman, really, who has an interest in cats at all. It is insightful, smart, funny and poignant. I have already ordered it for two woman I know, one of whom is my mother who is one of the Cat Rescuers Ms. Simon described. I finished this book with renewed respects and feelings of awe for my cats. This is one book you should not miss.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a valuable addition to any cat lover's shelf. Author Simon interviews women of all ages, backgrounds and professions to find out just what holds this bond with our cats in place. Much of the pleasure of reading it comes from comparing your own relationship with your cats, both past and present, with the women interviewed and the author herself.
Among the topics explored are: why are women/cats stereotyped so harshly and often similarly; why cat hoarders are so often female and why they do what they do; the mythical and historical connections between women and cats; how cats treat our significant others and what that says about how we feel about them (and how we let them treat us); letting go of our cats when it's time for them to pass on; and how our cats choose to communicate with their owners.
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Format: Paperback
If you know your cat's looks, meows, and feelings, this book makes sure you know you aren't crazy! We can understand cats as well as they understand us. I really enjoyed The Feline Mystique. It has wonderful cat stories, as well as great information that all cat lovers need!
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Format: Hardcover
I've read and loved Simon's other books ("Fatherless Women" and "Madhouse") and this one was just knockout wonderful. It's so smart, so moving, and filled with history, annecdotes, and reflections on the very special role of cats in women's lives--and particularly in Simon's life. Am absolutely irresistible read about love and relationships--especially the feline kind. Who could resist that?
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By A Customer on September 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Clea Simon beautifully captured both the humorous and the tender side of life with our felines. She has interviewed a wide variety of "cat women" and uncocered truths about the age-old connection between our two tribes. While parts of the book made me laugh out loud, the haunting closing section deals with the loss of Clea's cat Cyrus; but she leaves us on a hopeful note and reminds us that there are more relationships out there. My cat stays on my lap while I read it to her, so it must be good!
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Format: Hardcover
My wife is the cat lover (I'm a dog person), but after watching her glued to this book for two days, I picked it up, and was promptly enchanted. It's jam-packed with history, annecdotes and really moving stories from the author's life with cat(s). Terrific!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to read this book to further explore the question posed by the title and thought there would be some answers. If you have never read any books about cats and their history before, then there is much scholarship and lovingly done research in this book and that does make it worthwhile. She is obviously well-meaning, sincere and loves cats. However, the book doesn't really explore the "mysterious connection" in any interesting or conclusive fashion. Sadly, too, her writing is a bit clunky, repetitive and formulaic, especially in her various interviews. It felt like a research paper that someone suggested could be made "more interesting" with interviews with female cat owners. I just thought it would be a better book. The book on this subject has yet to be written.
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