Given their unique personalities and distinct features, it isn’t surprising that writers have long been obsessed with cats. In fact, our feline friends have proved the perfect subjects for many poets, with several writers devoting entire collections to these curious creatures. So with this in mind, for your next read, check out our round up of cats in poetry and prepare to be further intrigued by their charming nature.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
Widely regarded as the most famous collection of cat poems, T.S. Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ is a whimsical array of loveable cat poems. Perfect for children and Eliot aficionados alike, these loveable cat poems were written by Eliot for his godchildren and today, they continue to delight children and grown-ups alike. The collection inspired the world-wide hit musical, Cats!, featuring famous characters such as Macavity, Mr Mistofelees and Growltiger! Shop it online here.
The Owl and the Pussy-cat by Edward Lear
While essentially it’s a children’s book, there’s no denying that the classic, ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat’ is equally appealing to adults. Whether you wish to revisit it, or introduce it to your children, this loveable lyric rhyme focuses on an unusual pairing, who sale for away, delighting and captivating readers for generations. Beautiful illustrations by Charlotte Voake really help bring the tale to life, offering a feast for both the eyes and the mind. Purchase it from Waterstones here.
The Book of Cats, by George MacBeth
‘The Book of Cats’ is the perfect way to get access to an array of poetry, prose and pictures which focuses on the fascinating feline. This collection is an affectionate melody, praising the most elusive and intriguing of creatures – the cat. With work by 150 writers and artists, ‘The Book of Cats’ is the most comprehensive cat anthology published. It is extravagantly illustrated with over a hundred pictures to really bring the words to life. Purchase it online here.
Cat Jeoffry by Christopher Smart
‘Cat Jeoffry’ is a self-contained passage from Christopher Smart’s much longer work ‘Jubilate Agno’ (Rejoice in the Lamb), and one of the most famous pieces of poetry ever written about a cat. This new edition includes the much-loved original Peter Hay illustrations, using his rubber stamps and linocuts, and adds Tom Woodman’s informative commentary to place ‘Cat Jeoffry’ in the context of Smart’s life and works. Shop it online here.
I’m Not Sorry: Poems by Cats, by Rosa Silva
What mischievous cats! They have destroyed our homes and they are not sorry. Now they have decided to celebrate their destructive ways by comprising insightful and funny poems written by themselves. With titles like “It’s 6 a.m., time to wake up”, “I hate the vet”, “Oops, I did it again”, “Let me in”, and “Red dot, red dot”, this collection of laugh-out-loud poems offers a cat’s view on common wacky and exasperating feline behaviour. Shop it online here.
Cat Poems, by the world’s greatest poets
To poets, in particular, cats serve as the most delightful and beguiling of muses, as they purr, prowl, hunt, play, meow, and nap, often oblivious to their so-called masters. ‘Cat Poems’ offers a litter of odes to our beloved felines by some of the greatest poets of all time. Shop it online here.
I Could Pee on This, by Francesco Marciuliano
Showcasing the quirkiness of cats, this insightful collection of fully illustrated poems is a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of felines, helping them unlock their creative potential and explain their odd behaviour. With titles such as “Who Is That on Your Lap?”, “This is My Chair”, and “Some of My Best Friends Are Dog”’, the poems perfectly capture the inner workings of the cat psyche. Available online here.
Cat Haiku by Deborah Coates
Expressed in the form of the haiku – an ancient and honourable Japanese verse form comprising three lines and 17 syllables, ‘Cat Haiku’ presents cats as you’ve never seen them before. In a series of brilliant vignettes, Deborah Coates gets inside the mind of the beloved cat and comes up with some surprising revelations. You will never look at your (or anyone else’s) cat the same way again. Shop it online here.
Which cat poems do you love? Tell us in the comments below.