Barbara J. King

Friday Animal Blog

Heat-intoxicating cats, on this winter’s day

January 28, 2011

Zapped! That’s what 2011 has done to me so far. The new year gifted me with a stubborn upper-respiratory virus, followed in short order by a sequence of energy-draining (though not serious) family calamities, imminent writing deadlines, and of course the new teaching semester.

Plus, it’s cold. Okay, here in southeastern Virginia we’re not engulfed by Arctic temperatures or even the Northeast’s recent Snow Events. Even so, it’s been obnoxiously grey, colorless, and icy. And there’s still February to endure.

In addition to family and friends, it’s the ABC’s that keep me sane at such times: Animals, Books, and Chocolates. My happiest habit of late has been to cocoon of an evening or weekend on the couch, blanketed by a cat (a hefty feline generates significant heat), gzing at The Complete Cats in the Sun and consuming milk chocolate.
Now, I’m not much on coffeetable books. Gorgeous things, always, but that initial “smitten” period quickly wanes. Not so with this one, a weighty series of photographs taken by Hans Silvester of cats who live on the Cyclades (Greek islands)

In an introduction, Silvester writes: “I devoted eight years of my life to the cats of the Cyclades. I love them for what they are—half-wild, unpredictable, mysterious, ferocious, self-assured, arrogant, and extremely sensitive to signs of sympathy or love.”

The villagers, residents and fishermen alike, care for these outdoor-living, sun-basking, fish-eating cats. Their setting transports me – the Mediterranean blues and whites in the photographs are heat-intoxicating. But even more, the cats’ relaxed postures, behaviors, and facial expressions delight me. Some photographs include three, four, even five cats together, draped over each other’s bodies or sharing the day at a slightly haughty distance.

I like to support indie bookstores when possible, yet I will link here to so that you might play with the “look inside” feature, and sample some of Silvester’s gorgeous photographs:

Cats in the Sun

May all of us, artists or not, turn eyes as loving as Silvester’s on the cats all around us-- domestic, feral, and in-between.

Stay warm and energized, everyone!


  1. January 28, 2011 7:31 AM EST
    Get better and stay warm! And thanks for the link.
    - Mary Pratt
  2. January 28, 2011 9:19 AM EST
    I second Mary Pratt's remarks! And I agree that cats + sunshine = happy. :)
    - Marian Allen
  3. January 28, 2011 10:20 AM EST
    Hello. I can wholly endorse the suncats book. I agree with your assessment and so have little to add. Buy it when you can.
    - Jane
  4. January 28, 2011 12:17 PM EST
    Thanks everyone! Friday is a work-at-home day and I am currently laden with two warm cats- Pilar on my lap, Diana weighing down my lower legs out past the laptop... plus Flame wedged in next to my feet. Works for me even though I'm still dreaming of Greek islands.
    - Barbara J. King
  5. January 28, 2011 7:48 PM EST
    I remember the wild cats in Greece, and the people who would carry food out to them. Dream of warmth and sunshine!
    - Colleen
  6. January 28, 2011 10:32 PM EST
    I love it! I have an address book with the Hans Sylvester photos on each page, that was a gift some years ago. Every time I open it I stop to admire the cats again. I expect this book has even more, and different ones. My sympathy on the VA weather- but I don't dare complain about a thing out here. Though I still enjoy the same ABCs you do!
    - Joanne Tanner
  7. January 29, 2011 8:46 AM EST
    Colleen, I was last in Greece at age 16 and am beginning to think I need to visit more than once every 38 years. At that time I was not tuned in to the cats. Perhaps I'd best visit Italy too while I'm at it. Joanne, I hope you can find the book - I bought it used and it's available out there... Yesterday Charlie was watching golf from La Jolla, and we were stricken with longing for its weather. I would also take Santa Cruz's weather!
    - Barbara J. King

Selected Works

Why are animals so irresistible to us? Why do we live with and care so deeply about them? From the famous "art caves" of ice-age Europe, to the ancient villages where animals were first domesticated, to stories of apes, whales, dogs, and cats doing fascinating things today, King weaves together a scenario about the animal-human bond that encompasses our past, present and future.
Can scientists discover a prehistory of religion just as they have traced the evolution of technology, language, and art? What does compassion in chimpanzees, or burial patterns in our human ancestors and Neanderthals, tell us about the origins of religion? In Evolving God, named a Top Ten Religion Book for 2007 by the American Library Association, Barbara King explores these questions.
How do chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas-- the African apes -- communicate using body postures and gestures? Using her many years of experience studying these apes, Barbara King answers this question in a book that offers a new perspective on the evolution of language.