Title: Among the Pigeons
Author: John L. Read
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Conservation, Non-fiction
Dates read: 2nd November – 5th December 2019
Publisher: Wakefield Press
5th sentence, 74th page: The first time I harboured strong feelings towards cats was at our family farm in the South East, in South Australia.
So why keep cats indoors?
During the last century, global domestic cat numbers rocketed past 200 million. Hundreds of thousands of diseased, injured, malnourished or simply unwanted cats are euthanased every year by despondent animal welfare workers. Misplaced sentimentality, sometimes promoted by cat food companies, has exacerbated this situation through promoting irresponsible feeding of strays.
Ecologist and author John Read has travelled the world consulting cat experts and collating the most recent science. In II Among the Pigeons II he balances the allure of indoor cats with the animal welfare, human health and conservation issues they create when allowed to roam. But he also presents solutions, from breeding ideal indoor pet cats to development of humane tools to control feral cats.
In striking parallel to the repercussions of human-induced climate change, warnings about the damage wrought by free-ranging cats have been largely denied or overlooked. But we ignore these issues at our peril. For our own mental health and the endangered wildlife worldwide, time is running out.
I bought this when I was doing fieldwork out on a reserve a bit over a month ago. I have heard of the author before from fellow ecologists. But mostly, I wanted to buy it because the topic of this is incredibly topical and important to my heart. It’s also, I’m pretty sure a must read for all Australians. After all, it is especially important that we understand and appreciate our cat problem and the damage that it does to us.
This novel is highly factual. Although, for the amount of statistics and information that is squeezed into this, it isn’t dry in the slightest. Actually, it’s next to impossible to put down. The more you read, the more you want to as Read pulls in anecdotes and information from not only my own backyard, but also from around the world.
Of all the non-fiction books I have on my shelves, this is the one that I most definitely relate to the best. It not only talks about a lot of people and places that I know intimately, it’s also an issue that I’m constantly rallying against. But, since I know a lot of cat lovers, I’ve been incredibly hard-pressed to convince them that cat ownership is maybe not the best thing for our environment and the health of Australia.
Even if you are a cat lover, Read is able to provide his readers with a well-thought out argument. He doesn’t offer answers, but he highlights the problem that we are facing. And emphasises that we need a solution of some kind. Whatever works for the individual.
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