Framed by the author’s personal experience with backyard hens, Chickens: Their Natural and Unnatural Histories explores the history of the chicken from its descent from the dinosaurs to the space-age present. En route, Lembke surveys chickens in ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 19th century, and modern times, including the role of chickens in Jewish and Muslim practices. She also investigates the birds’ contributions to science and their jaunty appearances in literature.
We share our lives, for better or worse, with a multitude of animals: white-tailed deer and white-tailed eagles, hens and wrens, frogs and guppies, and, last but hardly least, bugs and bacteria. For the most part, we drift along separately, with neither man nor animal affecting the other's way of life. Sometimes, however, we fall in love - as in the case of the cat in the title - or otherwise encounter our animal neighbors in ways that change both of us.