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Cats in Love    by Hans Silvester order for
Cats in Love
by Hans Silvester
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2006 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Hans Silvester, photographer of Cats in the Sun takes us back to the gorgeous feline paradise, the sun-laden Greek Cyclades Islands, to show us Cats in Love. In his introduction to this splendid collection of photos, Silvester speaks of mankind's long fascination with the amorous behavior of the cat family, from lions to territorial tomcats (whose style of conflict he describes in detail). He talks of the female cat in heat, both attracted to, and afraid of, males.

But Silvester also speaks of his years of observation of 'friendship and camaraderie' among cats, of a 'tenderness and affection' rare in the animal world, and of how much pleasure they seem to get from physical contact with each other (anyone who lives with feline families will make the same observation). He tells us how cats 'live in harmony with humans' in the Cyclades, fed by fishermen and kindhearted elderly villagers. And he shares with us, through these lovely images, his own glimpses of cats' 'joie de vivre'.

There are clannish family groupings on the white steps typical of the islands, interested looks, heads rubbed together, tail sniffing, and that spooked look that the female gets in her eyes when a tomcat approaches. There's lots of snarling too, including one sequence in which two toms try to mate with a female in heat, who turns on both of them. There's an amazing photo of a cat looking at another's shadow on a plaza. A pair sprawls together on the edge of a dock, and another duo play gently on dark rocks. A mother watchfully feeds her kittens. Several cats sprawl together, totally relaxed in that sublime, exhausted contentment that only felines achieve.

It's clearly a cat's life in the Greek Cyclades, and Hans Silvester catches both spectacular and endearing moments through his camera lens in Cats in Love.

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