Walking by Itself: The Singular History of the Chinese Cat

Timothy H Barrett, Mark Strange

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    In today’s urbanized world, the domestic animals most familiar to the majority of us tend to be those small enough to share a living space with human beings. They may range in size from fairly large dogs through various smaller mam-mals down to tropical fish, and even smaller pets. The cat, towards the top end of this spectrum, vies with the dog as one of the most interactive animals and, hence, one of the most popular to be found in ordinary homes.1 Yet, unlike the dog, which has lived with humans for thousands of years, the cat – even if associated with people for almost as long – has only been brought inside the house in historical times, and is well known for still retaining a measure of aloofness, as our chapter title suggests. We have the sources to hand to trace cat histories in several ancient and modern societies and, though a detailed sequen-tial history for China has yet to be written, the provisional narrative outlined here should be sufficient to suggest that cat histories have not all unfolded in the same way or at the same pace.2
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAnimals Through Chinese History: Earliest Times to 1911
    Editors Roel Sterckx, Martina Siebert & Dagmar Schäfer
    Place of PublicationCambridge
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    ISBN (Print)9781108551571
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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