It shows a cat peeking round a table leg, ears up, back slightly arched, whiskers forward. The expression on the cat's face is inscrutable, naturally, because that is how cats are: they are solitary and restrained and, as every one of their admirers knows, have no need of the showy displays of emotion favoured by dogs.
This is the central point of Bradshaw's book: cats are, he says, territorial animals that have learned there is nothing to be gained by letting your rivals know what you're thinking and feeling. This makes them almost impossible to interpret, even though that is exactly what Bradshaw seeks to do. On every page of his book you can feel the presence of millions of cats, coolly returning the scientist's gaze and thinking to themselves: who is this funny little man who thinks he can understand us?
Bradshaw does have excellent qualifications for the job. He has been studying domestic cats for more than 25 years and was involved in the recent BBC Horizon programme that followed a project to tag all the cats in one British village. The aim of the programme was the same as the book - to understand what cats do and feel - and their conclusions are the same too: it's hard to know for sure.
In this book, Bradshaw goes further. If the cat is to maintain its popularity as a pet, he says, but more importantly be happy in the role, we have to do more research into its life. Not only that, we have to intervene much more to make that life better. The problem is that cat owners tend to take a rather laissez-faire approach, largely because that's the way they think cats like it. We see cats as urban sophisticates who have got life sorted and need little help from us, but Bradshaw explains the truth: the brain of the dog has been radically altered by domestication but not the cat's. He still has three out of four feet planted in the wild, and that creates all kinds of problems and stresses in the role of the modern pet.
Bradshaw lays out these problems and offers some advice for owners on how to deal with them, although the book is by no means a training manual. The first is that cats are by nature solitary and yet have been forced into close contact with each other either because there are other cats near their house or because a well-meaning owner has got a second cat as "company" for their first. Bradshaw's point is that cats are rarely interested in such company; they are perfectly happy on their own, thank you.
Another problem is the cat's instinct to kill, which is disliked by cat haters but is increasingly a source of stress for cat owners too, even though dealing with rodents was the reason cats were domesticated in the first place. The accusation from the haters is that not only are cats killers, they are sadistic killers (they do it because they love it).
Bradshaw's point, however - and perhaps this should be written on the cover - is that the evidence is grossly exaggerated (one study showed that on average a pet cat brings home only 4.4 kills per year) which leads to the final, uncomfortable point: the decline of wild birds and mammals probably has little to do with the cat and a lot to do with us and what we've done to natural habitats.
Bradshaw's solution to all of this is that cat owners have to change their let-it-be attitude and intervene much more with the aim of finishing domestication: the process of cats and humans working out how to live together. One way of achieving this is to accept that cats can be trained and using such training to make life less stressful (for example, by teaching your cat to walk into its carrier rather than be forced into it).
More importantly, Bradshaw questions the current policy on neutering. If we carry on as we are, he says, and continue to neuter millions of pet cats, we run the risk of breeding out the qualities we value and leaving parenthood, and the future of the species, to feral cats that love hunting and don't like humans and are likely to father kittens that feel the same.
The alternative is to identify cats that are ideal for modern living and breed from them in the hope that in generations to come, most cats will have adjusted and dealt with many of the stresses and strains Bradshaw identifies in his book.
This call for change is the kind of witty, surprising writing Bradshaw is good at (the same flair for controversy was on show in his 2011 book on dogs, In Defence Of Dogs) and in Cat Sense, it is skilfully combined with three fine qualities. There is his delight in detail (for example, cats get stuck up trees because their claws all face forward), a talent for dismantling myths (it's not true that cats are drawn to people who dislike them), but most importantly an ability to build a coherent and entertaining theory from an apparent contradiction that all cat-lovers will recognise: we seek to understand cats even though it is our lack of understanding that makes us love them.