The Cat Inside
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The Cat Inside

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,240 ratings  ·  106 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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Community Reviews

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Arthur Graham
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...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...more
Charlie
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.
Raegan Butcher
Apr 29, 2008 Raegan Butcher rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
ChunniSeth
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
Kevin
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
Philip Same
Why I've enjoyed this book as much as I have is purely enigmatic. You see, I’m allergic to kitty-cats. Perhaps it was the allegorical keynote, that was left to run, not without congruence, through each quarter page piece, that caught my interest. Yes, that’s as good a reason as any. Let’s call it at that. Allegory. In regards to the hints of memoir scattered throughout this thin ‘collection’, I’m saddened when I say, once more, that I can hardly relate. Burroughs doesn't one sneeze, sniffle, or...more
Sharon
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
Jonathan
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.
Amber Anderson
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...more
Julie
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.
Josh
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...more
Dan
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...more
Cathy
Feb 21, 2013 Cathy rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
...more
S.
Jul 24, 2010 S. rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Mat
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...more
Daniel Pachas
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...more
Phillip
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...more
Suvi
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.
Matthew Bromley
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
Fellini
Очень неоднородный сборник короткой прозы. Повесть "Здесь Ах Пуч" - типичный берроузовский наркоманско-гомосексуальный поток сознания, который у меня сложно усваивается - прочла по диагонали, не желая вникать. "Кот внутри", названный рецензентом "кошачьей шарадой" - маленькие заметки о кошках в жизни автора и вообще, очень понравились. "Кошка не предлагает услуги. Она предлагает себя. Конечно, она хочет заботы и крыши над головой. Любовь не получишь даром. Как все животные, кошки практичны". И е...more
Noriyuko 'Pat'
I never thought I'd use the word 'charming' in relationship to Burroughs, but this is a charming book! Quotidian descriptions of his cats' habits, exchanges with other cat-owners ('they sure are company'), and comparisons with dogs (cats win) live alongside classic Burroughs takes on the spirit world, the overwhelming nausea elicited by the vast majority of hateful human beings inhabiting America, and so on. Really great moments of self-reflexivity, as in one section where Burroughs, looking bac...more
Tareq Rahman
This book feels too short to be called a book. It felt more like reading a book jacket. It's so small, it actually fit into my pockets like candy.

Burroughs wants you to appreciate cats. This book was either written for you or it wasn't. It was much darker than I expected though. Burroughs writes about childhood memories, recalls his dreams, and reflects on the loss and death of animals. The writing is for the most part plain and direct. It generally reads like edited excerpts from his journals....more
Aaron
Short and pithy, this is a nice insight into Burroughs' life. Jumping from point to point with no anchor, it reads like poetry.

If you're a fan of the Beats, of cats, of poetry (though this isn't), or feel alone/loner, this book is for you.
Jim
Feb 12, 2014 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
“…a scarlet orange and green cat with reptile skin, a long sinewy neck and poison fangs – the venom is related to the blue-ringed octopus: two steps you fall on your face, an hour later you're dead…”
Carl
While still typically challenging in places, this short book has beautiful touches and brings us a glimpse of the real Burroughs.
Gio
Not a cat person, but this was a big waste of time. Thankfully it's a short read.
Allison
I never cottoned to Burroughs, but I noticed this little number on the shelf at the library (say hello to the new "library happenstance" shelf!) and thought, why not? I am, after all, a crazy cat lady, and so, apparently, was Burroughs.

I'm glad I picked up this slim volume. The vignettes were at turns sweet, sad, poignant, disturbing, surreal, haunting, and bleach-drinky. I couldn't get behind the dog hate, though (despite the author's protestations to the contrary, he is a dog-hater). Neverthe...more
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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.” 64 likes
“Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.” 62 likes
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