John Gray: Feline Philosophy


Herodotus writes that when an Egyptian house was on fire, the inhabitants were more concerned about their cats than their property. When a member of a visiting Roman delegation accidentally killed a cat in 59BC, the man was lynched despite intervention from the king. And the Egyptian sage Ankhsheshonq warned, “Do not laugh at a cat”.


John Gray attracted a lot of attention with his Straw Dogs, described as a radical work of philosophy, which sets out to challenge our most cherished assumptions about what it means to be human. I haven’t read Straw Dogs, but Feline Philosophy is certainly not a challenging book. It feels to me like cashing-in on people who combine a love of cats with a vague interest in “the meaning of life” philosophy. If you know people like that, this might be a good Xmas present.

You may recognise your cat’s voice in some of the following “feline hints on how to live well”:

Never try to persuade human beings to be reasonable.

It is foolish to complain that you do not have enough time.

Do not look for meaning in your suffering.

It is better to be indifferent to others than to feel you have to love them.

Forget about pursuing happiness. and you may find it.

Life is not a story.

Do not fear the dark, for much that is precious is found in the night

Sleep for the joy of sleeping. (Amen to that, says Gert).

Beware anyone who offers to make you happy.




6 thoughts on “John Gray: Feline Philosophy

  1. Do you have a cat, Gert? I am very much missing our Qauxo, who left us in late August. My impression was that he was often subject to extraordinary anxiety, unlike Mr. Gray’s Ur-Cat, although he grew less frightened with age. It simply seemed like too much work.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. If you click on the related post listed above “The arch-realist in my living room” you’ll see a picture of Celie. I’m sorry to hear about Quaxo, he was a fine cat, judging by his picture.
    Celie doesn’t suffer from anxiety except of the vacuum-cleaner. She strikes me as very much in line with John Gray’s understanding of cats – “seldom doing anything unless it serves a definite purpose or produces immediate enjoyment.”

  3. Was planning a post on Fabulous Felines that was a mash-up of John Gray and Comic and Curious Cats. But aspects of his book are rather hard to read and not to be thought about. So back to the Comic, Curious Fabulous Felines.

  4. Nice post. I had to share this with a friend who’s missing cat happily returned, yesterday. We shared a good few cat stories…they have so much to teach us. “Life is not a story” really hit home, for some reason.

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