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The Cat Inside

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,740 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
Best known for the wild, phantasmagoric satire of works like Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs reveals another, gentler side in The Cat Inside. Originally published as a limited-edition volume, this moving and witty discourse on cats combines deadpan routines and dream passages with a heartwarming account of Burroughs's unexpected friendships with the many cats he has know ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 29th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 1986)
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Dewey by Vicki MyronThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussOld Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. EliotAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Great "Cat" Books
185th out of 1,042 books — 600 voters
On the Road by Jack KerouacChronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob DylanHowl and Other Poems by Allen GinsbergJunky by William S. BurroughsMemoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima
101st out of 106 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

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Arthur Graham
May 29, 2012 Arthur Graham rated it liked it
When I was a young boy, I was absolutely vile to our family cat. I didn't cut it up or torture it or anything, but let's just say that, looking back, I'm amazed to have retained any memories at all of the poor thing purring in my lap...

Don't get me wrong - I still terrorize my current cat. Only now the terror is tempered with a tender, loving benevolence, a genuine desire to nurture and protect, as opposed to the thoughtless cruelty that comes so naturally to children. I might joke around about
Jul 04, 2011 Charlie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is nothing like anything I've previously read by Burroughs. Though there are parts that definitely show his sense of humor and style of writing. Basically its a celebration of cats and only something I can see as being enjoyed by someone who also loves cats. Although I haven't had a cat in many years this book really spoke to me and I enjoyed it and read it on a long lonely bus ride and it made my day happier.
Apr 29, 2016 M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kediseverlerin bayılacağı bir kitap. Keşke kitapta bahsedilen kedilerin birer görseli de olsaydi. Insan gercekten merak ediyor onlari.
Dec 19, 2010 ChunniSeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: musings
What a lovely little book. A synthesis of a cat lover's sentimentality, with some sparkling of Zen and Old Bull Lee's wild deep prophetic rants. For me, Burroughs is this Shamanic figure, with a strangeness about his writing which creates a very primal connection, as if one is caught in a telepathic ayahusca ritual with him. This book, however, was a surprise introduction to his caring and soft side. Intended as a collection of anecdotes and musings about his various cats, it is also a semi-auto ...more
míol mór
I once owned the Italian edition of this book, then gave it as a present to a friend of mine. Borrowed this copy from the department of anglo-american studies.

Burroughs was a lifelong lover of cats, and I guess it was only natural that this fact should produce one such output.
The book is a collection (collation, I would say) of short pieces, although at times the events go on from page to page like singled paragraphs of a longer narrative. Some of the pieces have a date & seem to have been
May 20, 2016 Benjamin rated it really liked it
"I am the cat who walks alone."
Raegan Butcher
Apr 29, 2008 Raegan Butcher rated it liked it
Recommends it for: cat lovers
A collection of anecdotes and observations about his various cats. It was quite interesting to see such a soft and tender loving side to William Burroughs. One can't help but feel more warm & fuzzy towards the man as a result. I am very tickled by the idea of ol' Burroughs puttering around his house in Lawrence fussing over his various felines.... its Sweet!
Mariana Orantes
Mar 25, 2012 Mariana Orantes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hermoso libro que sirve para conocer a un hombre a través de los gatos. La delicadeza, el sentido del deber, el enorme cariño y la angustia que llega con cada paso del tiempo. Para aquellos que nos preocupamos por los animales, pero especialmente por los gatos, este libro deja una sensación de alegría y tristeza muy profunda. Perdí a mi gato, perdí a mi gato. En qué lugar me llamó y yo no pude estar para él? Como todos los gatos del mundo que nos han regalado su confianza desde hace millones de ...more
Jun 12, 2013 Kevin rated it it was amazing
I have not read a lot of Burroughs, but after reading this short and touching collection taken from his journals, I wonder if I may have been overlooking the spirit of the man. For all of the crazy shit that he ever got into and wrote about, this book brought me to tears at points in its simple innocence and genuine love. In this short book, Burroughs reveals a gentle and familiar change of heart; from callous indifference to a bond of kindness that is nothing short of reverence... all for the c ...more
Apr 09, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An alternative book for the cat people. Not your typical Burroughs book, although it sometimes surprises and shocks, and not a typical cat book by any stretch of the imagination. WSB's thoughts about cats, part diary of his later life with cats, his less than generous thoughts about dogs, dreams and reflections about the roles cats play in our lives. A sleek and slim volume, skittish in nature, which is easily read in one sitting, and will be re-read I am sure.
Icten ve sicak bir gunluk tadinda. Icerdeki kedileriz biz.
"...insan ne zaman başka bir varlığa temas etse üzülüyor: Çünkü sınırları, acıyı, korkuyu ve nihayetinde de ölümü görüyor. Temasın anlamı budur işte. Bir kediye dokunduğumda bunu görüyor ve gözlerimden yaşlar aktığını fark ediyorum."

Karısını (yanlışlıkla ya da değil) öldürdüğü için Burroughs okumak benim için hiçbir zaman çekici olmamıştı, ta ki yukarıdaki cümleleri okuyana kadar. Bir kediye dokunmanın bu kadar güzel ifade edildiği bir kitabı okumak lâzımdı. Kedilere dokunanlar o duyguyu bilirdi
Jun 29, 2014 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delight! I've had this little tome on my shelf for years but for some reason never got around to reading it. Today I finally cracked it open (I've got a lovely hardcover edition featuring Brion Gysin's artwork), and read it in little more than an hour, savoring every sentence. It's been so long since I've read any Burroughs, and while it's quite different from his drug-fueled, sex filled, tripped out novels, it's every bit as delicious and a pleasure to read. He's the kind of author who r ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Mat rated it really liked it
For once the Time magazine blurb on the front cover actually made sense to me: "Heartwarming anecdotes...Burroughs ventures galaxies away from his typically twisted literary turf".

The Cat Inside is such an unusual book but when it comes to WSB Sr. expect nothing but surprises with each book you pick up.
As Burroughs himself describes it on page 70, "this cat book is an allegory, in which the writer's past life is presented to him in a cat charade".

The faces and looks on the various cats that he
M.D. Curzon
Dec 13, 2015 M.D. Curzon rated it liked it
Quite another side of Billy Burroughs!
Mar 14, 2016 Benja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This cat book is an allegory, in which the writer's past life is presented to him in a cat charade. Not that the cats are puppets. Far from it. They are living, breathing creatures, and when any other being is contacted, it is sad: because you see the limitations, the pain and fear and the final death."

Beatnik auteur William S. Burroughs rummages through the recesses of his life in the autobiographical novella The Cat Inside, as experienced vicariously from the perspective of his psychic compan
Dec 02, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
The Cat Inside has both wit and truth. Burroughs will have you laughing at his analogies of cats, humans, and dogs. The truths learned from this are sad, but well deserved to be heard. Must read for cat lovers.
Jul 22, 2014 Josh rated it really liked it
I read this in one sitting, very drunk last night. I'd just been at my friends house and at some point his 3 year old son and I coincidentally played with their two cats, well they ran away from us and he chased them and I chased him and the cats with a toy lawnmower. My friend and I then talked about how much more we like cats over dogs and watched the cats close their eyes like they were stoned/in ecstasy.

This little novella could have been much, much better. Sometimes I think popular authors
Sep 28, 2010 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journal-diary
A book of dreams and other small events, most of which have to do with cats. Here, our reporter comments on himself as a “guardian” of cats, with emphasis on his contact and interactions with three subjects in particular, Ruski, Calico Jane and Fletch. In these notes, he describes the characters of the members of this clowder, their relations with one another, and their relations with him. In addition to acting as their food giver, protector and scratch toy, Burroughs is also a student of cats, ...more
No Books
I once owned the Italian edition of this book, then gave it as a present to a friend of mine. Borrowed this copy from the department of anglo-american studies.

Burroughs was a lifelong lover of cats, and I guess it was only natural that this fact should produce one such output.
The book is a collection (collation, I would say) of short pieces, although at times the events go on from page to page like singled paragraphs of a longer narrative. Some of the pieces have a date & seem to have been w
Feb 21, 2013 Cathy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: William Burroughs fans
As every book is about cats and people, this book has its beautiful moments and a great share of bittersweet moments.

It's very short. There are many anecdotes, not always in chronological order (but many dated, and chronology is not really necessary), and it's very personal. Although Burroughs was a renowned cat-lover, it seems that it was not always the case, and it's interesting to see from a short perspective how he came to be so.

This is not just a book about cats. Burroughs writes:

This cat b
Jul 24, 2010 S. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Cat People
I was downtown today and decided to stop in the bookshop with a good English section and comfy chairs. I looked for the shortest book I could find, determined to sit down and read. I found this, 93 pages, none of them full, and read it in an hour or so. It was serendipity, being not too heavy but also not too banal, a very managable lozenge of a book.
In it Burroughs muses affectionately on his cats, and on cats in general as companions, 'familiars,' and life's company. He is a confirmed Cat Per
Daniel Pachas
Aug 14, 2013 Daniel Pachas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gato Encerrado de William Burroughs: “El hombre es un animal malvado”
Daniel Rojas Pachas
Gato Encerrado de Burroughs es un híbrido a medio camino entre diario, narrativa fragmentaria y aforismo. Libro poco difundido en nuestra lengua, originalmente publicado en edición limitada el 86 e inédito en español hasta el 2007. Burroughs a través de los sueños y pensamientos del texto se declara un defensor de la dimensión mágica de la naturaleza: “La sustancia mágica para la conservación de animales está
Amber Anderson
Aug 09, 2015 Amber Anderson rated it really liked it
This is a svelte little book of anecdotes from Burroughs' time at "the Stone House" and his relationships with stray cats who happened upon it. I just wish Burroughs would have neutered them! Different times.

Towards the end, when he visits the shelter...that part had me fighting back tears:

"We arrive at the animal shelter. The place is a death camp, haunted by plaintive, despairing cries of lost cats waiting to be put to sleep....I question the underlying assumption that one does a cat a favor b
Kirk Johnson
Jan 05, 2016 Kirk Johnson rated it really liked it
written while burroughs was working on his last novels, burroughs as usual treads dangerous ground, though this time the danger is his almost cloying love for cats in his last years. somehow he pulls it off, though, in large part with a steady infusion of burroughs otherworldliness and burroughs honesty. he is not afraid to give a view of himself as an old man living with his cats, and through them, with the ghosts of his dearly departed. you will never find another cat book like this.
Mar 16, 2012 Phillip rated it really liked it
Don't expect a cute cat book if you read this. It is a small book by William S. Burroughs who brought us "Naked Lunch", "The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead", "Cities of the Red Night", and let's not forget his "Blade Runner (A Movie)"-- not to be confused with the story by Philip K. Dick.

"The Cat Inside" is an expression of the love that the elderly William S. Burroughs had for his cats. It is sweet old man talk about his beloved pets.

A colleague of mine said that it took William S. Burroughs pra
Having read Naked Lunch, I thought I had been sucked into an alternate universe when I saw this in the library. I don't usually grab random stuff when I'm there, but this just seemed too weird to pass. Turns out, this was pretty - blah. Not particularly moving, meditativeness wasn't that interesting, and overall pretty forgettable. Although I did enjoy Burroughs's style, which didn't make this your run-of-the-mill mushy book about cats, but kind of a dream-like journey.
Dec 11, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing
What a trip. Psycho William S. Burroughs wrote a book about how much he likes cats, who his favorites are, how much he hated dogs, and how cats are like life (analogy or metaphor here).

He kept his cats indoor/outdoor, but really liked having cats around. It gets 5 stars because I would never have imagined that Burroughs liked cats.

The book is short (less than 100 pages), and each page has little vignette about cats, his cat, ....
Joe Lenihan
Feb 19, 2016 Joe Lenihan rated it it was amazing
This is another collection of short essays and journal entries about cats. Being a fan of Burroughs I am definitely more into his memoirs and other true life writings than most of his traditional novels (with the exception of Naked Lunch). This is a very short but sincere work from Burroughs that really sheds light on him as a person and the power a pet can have on someone's life.
Matthew Bromley
Jan 22, 2014 Matthew Bromley rated it really liked it
A book easily mis-understood by people who aren't "cat people". This book is an excellent depiction of the deep bond that is created amongst cat and human, and a bond that is often times greater than those bonds created between humans and other humans. William Burroughs writing is exact and almost poetic at points in this book, with much attention paid to the affection of his cats throughout. Although it is a very quick read, it is a really deep and meaningful book. I appreciated it from beginni ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: # 85 The Cat Inside 1 3 Dec 10, 2015 03:47PM  
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William Seward Burroughs II, (also known by his pen name William Lee; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century ...more
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“A cat's rage is beautiful, burning with pure cat flame, all its hair standing up and crackling blue sparks, eyes blazing and sputtering.” 94 likes
“Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.” 81 likes
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