Comprehensive Illustrated Guide to the World\’s Recognized Breeds, Varieties and Colors
by Bruce Fogle, M.D.
I\’ve had this book a long time, and thumbed through it to admire the pictures before- now I\’ve actually read through the text as well. It really is very comprehensive. The first section has double-page spreads with detailed summaries on the history of cats- their evolution, their relatives in the wild, how they have featured in art and culture throughout history, including folktales, superstitions, comic strips and film appearances. Next there is a section on cat physiology- everything from how their skeletal structure makes them so flexible, to how the brain responds to messages, muscular function, digestive system, reproduction, the skin and fur (barrier and beauty), and genetics. In most of this the book is far more detailed than the last one I read, but the genetics here are explained more simply so I think I actually understood that better. When you get past diluting genes into how some colors mask others it still gets confusing though.
Going through the pages on cat breeds- more than sixty of them- it\’s easy to see that many breeds which I once knew mainly for their distinctive coloring, now come in patterns brought in from other cat breeds. So there\’s Siamese with tortisehell points and Exotic Shorthairs with dark Siamese-influenced points, and vice versa all over the place. To me this seems a bit odd- the desire to always make one cat have the colors of another, but I often feel the same about flowers that are bred to look specifically like ones they aren\’t. I tend to like the classic, outdated appearances. Seems there are only a few that still have just one, two or three \”allowed\” colors. This book has quite a few cat types I had never heard of before- especially the ones with curly fur! Do an online search for longhair Selkirk Rex or the La Perm, they look so striking. I had heard of the Japanese Bobtail, American Curl, Sphynx and Munchkin cats before, but the Pixiebob was a new one to me. Purportedly comes from a cross of domestic cats and wild bobcats, but it\’s never been proven. There are other cats I was vaguely familiar with in this book that come from crosses with wildcats- the Ocicat and Bengal, but there\’s no page for the Savannah. Maybe in newer editions- I see a lot of different cover images for this book online and guess that there are updated versions. One of my favorite breeds is the Egyptian Mau.
Finally, at the end of the book there\’s a section on general care and health issues, including basic first aid in case of accident or injury, with instructions on how to do CPR and artificial respiration for a cat. I hope I never have to do so, but now I also know how to treat a cat for shock and safely move an injured one to the vet.
It\’s a stunning book that\’s very engaging to look through, with so many beautiful and interesting felines depicted. The photographs are not quite as good quality as in Legacy of the Cat, many of them a little grainy or rough around the edges, but that\’s a small quibble I have.
Rating: 4/5 240 pages, 1997