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We’re all about learning from our cats here, so when I heard about philosopher John Gray’s new book, Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, I was intrigued.

From the publisher:

In Feline Philosophy, the philosopher John Gray discovers in cats a way of living that is unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness, showing how they embody answers to the big questions of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne’s house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshakable capacity for “fearless joy”; and Colette’s Saha, the feline heroine of her subversive short story “The Cat”, a parable about the pitfalls of human jealousy.

Exploring the nature of cats, and what we can learn from it, Gray offers a profound, thought-provoking meditation on the follies of human exceptionalism and our fundamentally vulnerable and lonely condition. He charts a path toward a life without illusions and delusions, revealing how we can endure both crisis and transformation, and adapt to a changed scene, as cats have always done.

This is not a quick, easy read. I came away with mixed feelings, because most of the book is pretty dense, and Gray’s approach to philosophy is not really my cup of tea. According to The Guardian, Gray wrote the book in memory of the cats who have shared his life, and his observations of how cats approach life vs. how humans do are fascinating and made me glad that I hung in with the book and finished it.

My favorite section comes at the end of the book, when Gray presents “Ten Feline Hints on How to Live Well.” “Cats have no interest in teaching humans how to live, and if they did, they would not do so by issuing commandments. Yet one can imagine cats could give us hints as to how to live less awkwardly,” he writes in the book’s final chapter.

Feline Philosophy is available from Amazon.


*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves. I received this book from the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. All reviews on The Conscious Cat will always reflect my honest opinion, or, as the case may be, Allegra’s honest opinion.

4 Comments on Review: Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life

  1. PS. I like reading reader’s comments about books, and I find it usually says more about the reader than the book.
    The Editorial comments are worth reading.

  2. I just got the book a few weeks ago…..and I agree, it is not a quick read,,,not some cute cat book.
    It is a mental exercise in following his thinking but very insightful into human behavior, if you stay with it.
    I like books that exercise my brain and this one does.
    I happened to come across the author after an article in the Guardian UK about this “demonic” cat in an Australian shelter…..which was a poor description…..one just needs to know how to relate to cats, and after several adoptions, he found the perfect home with a woman who understand him….reading about him, he was the type of cat I like, very distinctive personality

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