Cats, A Writer's Loyal Companion brings together a list of cat books

Cats, A Writer’s Loyal Companion

A list of books that remind us of our cat’s superiority…in a good way.

Cats are a reassuring company for writers. While they work, cats lounge around nearby or amuse themselves independently. Cats can also suddenly get a little destructive or plop themselves on top of the writer’s work, meowing for affection. This balance between quiet bliss and constant agitation keeps their owners sharp and focused. In works of writing, cats often take on a mystical role, they are tricksters, or indicate something off-beat about their owner. There’s something about cats that gives them a certain mystery and one that makes a special muse to writers.

This short list of some of our favorite cat books can be found at Bookshop.org, where proceeds go toward independent, local bookstores. So grab a cup of tea and cozy up with the purrfect companion in your lap and enjoy these books about cats.


The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

The Cat in the Hat arrives at the house with his mischievous smile, to bored children when mother is out. He lets them know a rainy day outside is no reason to not have funny fun inside. With his special tricks, he makes the most with what he can find available to play with, be it a cake and umbrella, or a rake. This cat is not afraid to make quite a horrible mess, but he has a trick to make it all better.


Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

A collection of fanciful poems dedicated to cats published in several illustrated versions,  including one illustrated by Edward Gorey. They are melodious poems and a pleasure to read out loud. In the beginning of the collection it is said that cats are so special, they have three names, an ordinary one, a particular one, and one so secretive that only the cat knows it. The poems follow with several featured cats, describing their personalities and lives, some of them quite magical. 


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

A writer recalls his friendship with Holly Golightly, his neighbor in a Manhattan apartment. She is described as a girl in a constant state of flux, no furniture in the apartment, belongings in boxes, who loves to throw wild parties. She owns a cat that she found in the city. Her refusal to name him enforces her wish not to to attach herself to anything. She keeps affirming that neither she nor the cat belong to each other. But when she forces the cat back out to the streets, she immediately regrets her decision, realizing her emotional attachment is unavoidable.


Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

Bloomberg is a smelly, old, fat, flea-ridden cat of the Glass family. Franny is suffering a severe emotional crisis. When her brother Zooey tries to angrily confront her, trying to shake her out of her depressive state, he finds Franny resting on the sofa with the cat. At this moment, Zooey softens, and Bloomberg becomes an unwilling mediator between the sibling’s conversation. Like many family pets, Bloomberg gives the Glass family a way to express themselves when they have a difficult time doing it.


We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Merricat lives confined in an estate with her agoraphobic sister Constance and their very ill Uncle Julian. They survived a terrible family tragedy that has left them ostracized from the village. Merricat communicates with Jonas the cat who follows her everywhere like a familiar. Jonas sits near Merricat as she buries objects and performs spells to ensure their protection and isolation.  


The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun

Jim Qwilleran is a prize-winning reporter who has a knack for solving grisly murder mysteries. With the help of his faithful Siamese cat Koko, Qwilleran has to sniff out the clues and solve the murder mystery they stumble upon when Qwilleran takes over the art beat. The Cat Who series is ridiculous, but I also remember reading this entire book in one sitting during the summer when I was 10, not noticing the nasty sunburn I was getting in the process. It’s the perfect series for people with a lot of time on their hands.


Three squirrels reading Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag in the mural in the Children's Gallery at the American Writers Museum in Chicago, IL.

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág

This book is featured in the tree mural in our Children’s Literature Gallery, pictured here. The squirrels love to read it. Kids love it too! The book won a Newberry Honor award all the way back in 1929 and to this day it is the oldest American picture book still in print. Also, with this book, Gág pioneered the double-page picture format as opposed to the standard format at the time which was picture on one page, text on the next. So we can all thank Gág and these millions of cats for that!


After the Museum’s recent list of books about dogs, our cats were feeling left out. As befits their royal station, we of course had to share some photos of the AWM family’s cats. Some of these kitties are no longer with us, but we can’t help but remember them with love.

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