When I learned of the book, My Street Cats, by Raphaella Bilski, I couldn’t resist reading it. This dear lady has been caring for stray and feral cats in her home and garden for years and knows them each as individuals. Read my review about this informative, heartwarming book and take a look inside for yourself using the previewer below.
Raphaella was also kind enough to share about her book and her life with street cats in a written interview you can read here – one of my favorites.
My Street Cats by Raphaella Bilski
In the book, My Street Cats: Their Personalities and Social Behavior, author Raphaella Bilski describes the life of her local street cat community and her involvement with these cats. She shares stories about cats that visited or took up residence in her garden, telling of their personalities, social structure and their interactions with each other. She also tells of her relationships with the cats, and her worries, joys, and care of them.
I learned a lot from reading this book, and enjoyed reading the stories of her most memorable and beloved feline visitors. I was happily surprised by how she and the cats formed relationships with each other. Her devoted and unselfish care of them always revolved around what was in their best interests, even if that increased her worry and sorrow, which it often did.
I found myself wondering more than once if I could have put my emotional needs second to their needs like Raphaella did.
Indeed, there were many tears shed in the 14 years of sharing her home, garden, and front yard with hundreds of cats. The lives of street cats are much shorter than house cats, even when they have plenty of food and a safe place to sleep in cat-friendly gardens. They are subject to weather, injury and disease. It was surprising that so many kittens succumbed to death within their first few months of life. Adult cats don’t usually live beyond 8 or so years. Another very sad, but common cause of death in Jerusalem is cars.
“I’ve often seen drivers slow down and even stop the car if they see a dog in the middle of the road. However, when there’s a cat in the road, many drivers ignore it. They continue driving without stopping or slowing down and run over the cat.
Why is that? Who decided that a dog’s life is worth more than a cat’s life? Clearly these are perverted social norms that have no place in any moral code. Morality demands one thing, and people’s behavior is something else entirely.”
What I found most interesting as I read the stories was how these cats interacted with each other and with the author. I didn’t realize they had a definite social structure within their community and that until spay/neuter became the norm, there was always a male cat leader.
I loved reading about how mother cats brought their kittens to Raphaella’s front door when they were sick or they needed help feeding their kittens. There were even mother cats who helped each other nurse and care for their kittens. People aren’t the only ones who enjoy a babysitter break!
My Street Cats shatters a big myth about street cats – that they do not bond with people. Many of the feral cats who called Raphaella’s garden home engaged with her in a variety of ways. Once she earned their trust they would rub up against her, snuggle nearby, have kittens in her basement, or in some cases, let her pet them. They ate with her nearby, slept in sleeping places she provided, and accepted care from her when needed. I was so touched reading about how they come to her when they needed medical attention or refuge. A few cats even venture into the garden pergolas and her home and make themselves comfortable on the furniture.
My Street Cats is a definite must read for cat lovers and anyone interested in learning about the personalities and social behavior of stray cats. Raphaella Bilski’s love for these cats and her unwavering dedication to their welfare is evident from the first word to the last. It is heartwarming, inspirational, and offers a perspective on the lives of cats that few humans get to glimpse. This is a book you can read right through or take your time and enjoy it story by story.
Want to win a free kindle edition of My Street Cats? (readable on any device with a free kindle app)
What do you think ? Share your opinions and insights in the comments below. Thanks!