Mousy Cats and Sheepish Coyotes: The Science of Animal Personalities (Paperback)

Mousy Cats and Sheepish Coyotes: The Science of Animal Personalities By John A. Shivik Cover Image
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An eye-opening celebration of the unique personalities found within the animal kingdom—and of the special links between us and our non-human friends.

Blending cutting-edge science with personal anecdotes, a wildlife expert explores the mysteries of animal behavior in this “thoroughly enjoyable and informative read” for animal and nature lovers (Booklist).

Why are some cats outgoing and others standoffish? Why are some dogs adventuresome and others homebodies? As any pet owner can attest, we feel that the animals we've formed bonds with are unique—as particular (and peculiar) as any friend or loved one. But is there any scientific basis for this feeling, or are we just projecting our complicated human ideas onto the animal world?

It turns out that science has been reluctant to even broach the subject of individuality in the animal kingdom. But now, a fundamental shift in scientific understanding is underway as mainstream scientists begin to accept the notion that animals of all kinds—from apes and birds to crabs and spiders—do indeed have individual personalities.

In Mousy Cats and Sheepish Coyotes, veteran wildlife expert Dr. John Shivik brings us stories from the frontlines of this exciting new research. Researchers are finding that each wolf, bear, and coyote has a different tendency to follow its predatory nature or to shyly avoid conflicts. Some bluebirds are lovers, others are fighters. Some water striders are passive, others bellicose. Unique personalities can be discovered in every corner of the animal kingdom. Even microscopic organisms can exhibit unique tendencies. The array of personality types among all species is only beginning to be described and understood. As Shivik argues, individuality in animals is important not only for the human-animal bond, but also for evolution, adaption, and species diversity in the wild.

About the Author

John Shivik has served as a federal researcher, state predator biologist, federal regional wildlife program manager, and search-and-rescue dog handler. He has published widely in scientific and popular media, and is the author of The Predator Paradox: Ending the War with Wolves, Bears, Cougars, and Coyotes.

Praise For…

“A thoroughly enjoyable and informative read.”

“A fascinating, accessible, and well-documented work that will be enjoyed by those interested in animal behavior and anyone who has ever had a pet with personality to spare.”
Library Journal

“Anyone who’s had the pleasure (or not) of spending time with other animals, ranging from insects to reptiles to fish to birds to big-brained mammals, knows they’re unique individuals with a wide variety of personalities. In this important book, Dr. John Shivik combines cutting-edge science with wonderful stories and shows that a wide variety of nonhumans are neither mindless nor all the same. Rather, they’re fascinating beings who can be timid, bold, shy, outgoing, and, on occasion, downright obnoxious. And it’s their unique personalities that bond us to them, because in so many ways they display the same range of personalities as do we.”
—Marc Bekoff, author of The Animals’ Agenda

“Old-fashioned biologists used to thinking only in terms of species may be shocked by Shivik’s premise, but ordinary readers will find their instincts borne out. From one-celled creatures to us, nature selects for a variety of personality types. The world is full of individuals, and this wonderful and fascinating book shows why and how.”
—Dan Flores, author of Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History

“How wonderful to see science confirming what we know in our hearts to be true: emotional bonds are created between individuals, and every living being has its own uniqueness. In his own playful voice, Dr. Shivik confirms that evolution is driven by difference, not sameness, and that personality is more important than looks for creatures great and small. An important and delightful read!”
—Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution

“I’ll tell you what’s rarer than a mousy cat or a sheepish coyote: a behavioral scientist who’s gutsy enough to admit he had animals pegged all wrong! Brave, funny, honest, and insightful, John Shivik’s new book chronicles his transformation and the revelations that come with understanding that, like people, all animals are individuals. From cats to coyotes to guppies to bees, the individual animals you’ll meet in these pages will blow your mind, warm your heart, and make your hair stand on end. This important book heralds a scientific revolution. Don’t miss it.”
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus

“Dr. John Shivik relates his personal conversion to the viewpoint that each animal has his or her own personality, an idea that scientists have resisted until recently. This enjoyable book is loaded with fun personal anecdotes, as well as solid scientific information. I highly recommend it.”
—Con Slobodchikoff, author of Chasing Doctor Dolittle
Product Details
ISBN: 9780807067406
ISBN-10: 0807067407
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: December 4th, 2018
Pages: 208
Language: English