cover image THROUGH COUGAR'S EYES: Life Lessons from One Man's Best Friend

THROUGH COUGAR'S EYES: Life Lessons from One Man's Best Friend

David Raber, THROUGH COUGAR'S EYES: Life Lessons from One Man's . , $23.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-26918-0

Dr. Doolittle types who feed their animals Eukanuba pet food may recognize Cougar's face: he is the company's spokescat. A 200-pound mountain lion, he was "rescued" from a tiny cage by Raber, who is now employed as Cougar's "loyal servant." Before this impetuous decision, the author had been a dog man who knew nothing about cougars. But he felt such empathy for the creature's condition, he committed the next 20 years of his life to its care. The large, surprisingly gentle feline came to return his devotion: the two rub noses and cheeks and are inseparable. Cougar now lives the life of a pampered domestic pet—sleeping on leather couches, traveling in limousines and on power boats, and walking on a leash. Instead of a cougar's natural diet of deer or birds, he dines on cooked shrimp and, of course, Eukanuba. Raber—whom many animal lovers will find unendearing and smug—repeatedly declares that he does not advocate keeping exotic animals as pets; to justify his choice, he teaches other people about big cats. The two appear around the country at cat shows, pet-food store openings and even at a cigar heritage festival. In addition to the tangled moral and ethical issues here, Raber leaves some scenes, such as the one where the big cat partially destroys a motel room, unresolved. In addition, the writing is choppy and full of jarring slang and rhetorical questions. Readers seeking insight into cougars will learn more from Kevin Hansen's Cougar: The American Lion (which Raber recommends). (Apr.)