The best non-fiction books for cat lovers

Who am I?

I am an international bestselling author of Strays and a London-based journalist for The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, and other publications. I've written about animals, conservation, and volunteered at sanctuaries around the world, from tending big cats and baboons in Namibia to wild mustangs in Nevada—a labour of love that has inspired features for The Guardian, The Independent, and Condé Nast Traveller. I've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for many charities through my investigative animal-cruelty stories; as an activist, I helped shut down controversial breeders of laboratory animals in the UK. I also created Catfestlondon, a sell-out boutique festival that rescues and rehomes Moroccan street kittens in the UK.

I wrote...

Strays: The True Story of a Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America

By Britt Collins,

Book cover of Strays: The True Story of a Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America

What is my book about?

Strays: A Lost Cat, a Homeless Man and their Journey Across America is a true story about a troubled drifter who finds a lost cat and takes her on a ten-month adventure across the spirit-lifting settings of the American West.

Michael King, a former chef, was depressed, drunk, and living on the streets of Portland. When stumbles on a hurt and starving stray, he takes her into his home in a UPS loading bay and into his heart. He names her Tabor and nurses her back to health. When winter comes, they hitchhike to the beaches of California, the deserts of Idaho, and the high-plains of Montana, surviving on the kindnesses of strangers. The pair become inseparable, healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts. Meanwhile, back in Portland, the cat’s owner never stops looking her.

The books I picked & why

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Call of the Cats: What I Learned about Life and Love from a Feral Colony

By Andrew Bloomfield,

Book cover of Call of the Cats: What I Learned about Life and Love from a Feral Colony

Why this book?

I absolutely loved this book. One of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read, it’s heartfelt and hilarious. After running his own bookshop in Seattle, Andrew Bloomfield moves to Hollywood to become a screenwriter and discovers a colony of feral cats living in his backyard. He was not a cat person. After witnessing one too many raccoon and coyote attacks and hungry, crying kittens, he and his two female housemates intervene and start caring for these wild yet vulnerable cats who transform his life. With his sharp wit and keen eye for detail, Bloomfield is a brilliant storyteller. I got completely caught up in the soap-opera dramas and death-defying moments of these cats, along with the heartaches and triumphs of rescuing them.

The Puma Years: A Memoir

By Laura Coleman,

Book cover of The Puma Years: A Memoir

Why this book?

This is essentially an exquisitely written love letter to a feisty wildcat Laura met at a Bolivian sanctuary. When I first picked up her captivating book, I was not only drawn by the stunning cover but because it resonated, since I’d been caring for big cats and other wild orphans at sanctuaries for years. She shares her story about her time working in a dilapidated wildlife refuge in the Amazon, set against a turbulent backdrop of deforestation and forest fires. Living in primitive conditions in the jungle with all its dangers, Laura forms enduring friendships with fellow volunteers and animals rescued from the pet trade. But it’s the bond she forms with a grumpy, traumatised puma who teaches her about love and healing and reshapes her life to become a dedicated activist. Part of the proceeds support Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi to continue its work protecting animals rescued from illegal trafficking.

The Cat Who Came for Christmas

By Cleveland Amory,

Book cover of The Cat Who Came for Christmas

Why this book?

Amory wrote this wildly entertaining read of his rescue of a stray he found sick and starving in a NYC alley on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1977. He named the white cat Polar Bear, a moody curmudgeon with one blue and one gold eye, who became his lifelong companion. The book spent 12 weeks at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list and sold over 10 million copies. Amory was a fierce and famous activist who helped Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society buy a boat to use in his fight against whaling and seal-hunting. In 1980 Amory founded the Black Beauty Ranch in Texas, a refuge for discarded and neglected animals, from cats, dogs, deer, horses to elephants, monkeys, and big cats. That same year, he spent over $500,000 to trap 582 burros and helicopter them out of the Grand Canyon to save these poor donkeys from being shot by the National Park Service. Touchingly, Amory was buried beside Polar Bear at his now-1,000-acre Black Beauty Ranch.

Soul of a Lion: One Woman's Quest to Rescue Africa's Wildlife Refugees

By Barbara Bennett,

Book cover of Soul of a Lion: One Woman's Quest to Rescue Africa's Wildlife Refugees

Why this book?

A beautifully told story about a Namibian family who created a real-life Noah’s Ark in the desert. Marieta van der Merwe and her late husband Nick turned their cattle ranch into a refuge for thousands of wounded or orphaned animals who can’t make it on their own in the wild. This book, full of wonder and gentle souls, has special meaning for me. I met Barbara Bennett, a North Carolina University literature professor, when I was sent to Namibia to write a story about Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary for the Guardian and we were both volunteering. Afterward, I introduced her to my New York literary agent who sold the book. It’s so vividly written that it allowed me to relive my experiences of daily mischief of the baboons, walking full-grown lions in the desert, sleeping with cheetahs under the stars, and watching the giant thunderstorms on the porch with a menagerie of cats and dogs. Part of the proceeds support the sanctuary, which at any one time has 1,000-plus residents.

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology

By Caroline Paul, Wendy Macnaughton (illustrator),

Book cover of Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology

Why this book?

Lost Cat centres around the author’s two 13-year-old tabbies, Tibia and Fibula, named after the bones and nicknamed Tibby and Fibby. Caroline was recovering from a plane crash, healing broken bones, and sinking into depression when Tibby disappears. Hobbling on crutches and painkillers, she and her partner Wendy, the illustrator of the book, begin their frantic search flyposting their San Francisco neighbourhood, touring animal shelters and feral-cat colonies before moving on to GPS tracking and animal psychics and pet detectives. Weeks later, Tibby saunters back home with the smug confidence of Jacques Costeau after a wild adventure to parts unknown. Caroline, also an animal-rights activist, poignantly captures the deep, elusive kinship between us and our animals. Cat people will understand this obsessive behaviour in this warm, funny memoir that, along with the gorgeous full-colour pen-and-watercolour drawings, is a fantastic feel-good read.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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