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Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  13,865 ratings  ·  604 reviews
T. S. Eliot's playful cat poems have delighted readers and cat lovers around the world ever since they were first published in 1939. They were originally composed for his godchildren, with Eliot posing as Old Possum himself, and later inspired the legendary musical Cats.
Hardcover, Illustrated Edition, 56 pages
Published August 30th 1982 by Harcourt Brace & Company (first published 1939)
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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
3rd out of 1,001 books — 556 voters
The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
50th out of 1,553 books — 1,722 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 24, 2014 Manny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes cats and poetry
To My New Feline Friend

I know an Abyssinian
her name in French is Silicate

The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)
helen the bookowl
If you're a cat-lover (as I am), then this is a must-read for you! This is a charming book written in verse, and each chapter is dedicated to a different kind of cat with its own kind of personality. This just goes to show how many personalities a cat can really have and I loved it :)
Gosto de poesia; gosto de gatos. Adorei este livro.
Mas, se não gostasse de poesia nem de gatos, de certeza que, mesmo assim, adoraria este livro.
Durante cerca de meia hora, pespegou-se-me um sorriso nos lábios que, periodicamente, desaparecia para ser trocado por uma gargalhada...
Quer os poemas, quer as ilustrações são lindos e divertidos e, embora T. S. Eliot os tivesse escrito para crianças, qualquer adulto se enternecerá com eles.
Um livro que recomendo a quem gosta de gatos e não só...

"Há nes
I had always thought of T.S. Eliot as a difficult and gloomy poet, so these poems were a revelation! Such light-hearted fun which really benefits from being read aloud & the Edward Gorey illustrations were marvelous too.
So, I'm really more of a dog guy, and I don't know if that's the reason or if it was the horribly ridiculous musical or what, but despite considering T.S. Eliot as one of my favorite poets during my college days and despite owning a copy of this book for at least fifteen years, I'd never read these poems until today.

I'm curious what motivated Eliot to write these funny and clever little ditties for kitties--the writer feels more like Edward Lear than the elusive, erudite author of "The Hollow Me
Davie Bennett
Little-known fact, this book of children's poetry by T.S. Eliot was the inspiration for the cringe-worthy Broadway musical, "Cats." Many of the poems are the lyrics, verbatim, for the show. But if you, like so many others, are revulsed or terrified by the thought of those cavorting, feline freaks on stage, well, just try and put it out of your mind. These are fun poems for kids, and would make great bedtime reading! Unless you are a dog family, in which case you should probably go with "Clifford ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Apr 04, 2013 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cats
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Cats
[Just like a BUMbersticker:]

Like this Review if you like cats but hate Cats (and can tell the dIFFérance).

the ReVue:
T.S. Elliot poetry about cats.

Edward Gorey drawings about cats.

Cats doing what cats do.

A winning trilogy of characters, that.
This book was on my Recommendations book shelf, I hope because I'm a huge fan of Edward Gorey, not a crazy cat lady. Unfortunately for me, my library didn't have the edition that Gorey illustrated. So, I read this one. Actually, the illustrations were the only thing I enjoyed about the book. I felt like Eliot was trying too hard to be clever with the names and none of them worked for me. Cap'n Wussenfuss, now that would've been a good name but he didn't come up with that name, I did. They have n ...more
When looking through lists of poetry books trying to decide which to read for my book challenge I knew I couldn't pass this one. Cats the Musical, and this book, are my wifes' favourite and she named my cat after Mr Mistoffelees.

It was an amusing little book with fun, kitty stories though was a touch racist in parts. After reading certain poems I watched YouTube clips of the Cats version and found they never quite fit what I had in my head. The tempo of the poems in the book is quite fast which
This is a whimsical book full of adventure and fun
With cats playing and sleeping and those who even run
I think it was the best book ever, but
I laughed so hard I almost busted a gut!
Nothing is better, not even in the slightest
Read it again? I sure mightest!
With the magic Mr. Mistoffelees, so quiet and sly
Quite the mysterious guy.
* Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity
He’s broken human law, he defies the law of gravity*
I recommend this book to you all,
Though the stories are quite tal
Florence Liu
Looking at the reviews of this book, I'm slightly ashamed to say that the only reason I read this collection of poetry was because of a musical. It's not because I wanted to read more of T.S. Eliot's amazing work, it's because I watched Cats. I am an Andrew Lloyd Webber junkie. It all started when I watched The Phantom of the Opera, and things just got worse when I watched cats. That being said, Andrew Lloyd Webber is also responsible for some of the books that are on my to-read list - this bein ...more
I'm unpacking all my books from the move and have decided A) Eliot will be allowed on my office bookshelf because I think he'd be perfectly at home there and B) I should really reread his stuff, since it has been a while. (Do you hear that?? REREAD!!)

Yes, the Broadway musical Cats is based on the Book of Practical Cats, but I don't feel like they're one and the same --- the musical has taken on a life of its own and much of the charm of Eliot's original poetry has been lost. His metre is absolut
"But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?"

I have to admit that it was an embarrassingly short time ago when I realised that the poems written by T.S Eliot provided the lyrics for the musical Cats.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew that the musical was based on these poems (I’m not completely culturally challenged, I’ll have you know), but I had no ide
Schrödinger's cat

Schrödinger's cat's a mystery cat, he illustrates the laws;
The complicated things he does have no apparent cause;
He baffles the determinist, and drives him to despair
For when they try to pin him down--the quantum cat's not there!

Schrödinger's cat's a mystery cat, he's given to random decisions;
His mass is slightly altered by a cloud of virtual kittens;
The vacuum fluctuations print his traces in the air
But if you try to find him, the quantum cat's not there!

Schrödinger's ca
aPriL does feral sometimes
"Before a Cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend,
Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream;
And you might now and then supply
Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie,
Some potted grouse, or salmon paste--
He's sure to have his personal taste.
(I know a Cat, who makes a habit
Of eating nothing else but rabbit,
And when he's finished, licks his paws
So's not to waste the onion sauce.)"

: )

Very cute and pleasant.
Another for the "childhood favorites" shelf. This one made me feel very superior already knowing most of the words to "Cats" when I saw it.

"The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES."

"always on the wrong side of every door"

It is more rhyming than poetry, kind of an early Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein; funny rhymes that people can laugh about. And it is about cats, what could be better? I was charmed by the use of language, the creative rhyming and the cats themselves.

From "The Old Gumbie Cat"

But when the day's hustle and bustle is done,
Then the Gumbie Cat's work is but hardly begun
And when all the family's in bed and asleep,
She slips down the stairs to the basement to creep.
She is deeply concerned w
Richard Ward
Light verse by a cat enthusiast for kids and adults. If you've seen or heard the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, you've already heard most of the poems sung. I know very little about poetry and am not qualified to say whether or not this is "good" poetry. I can only say I enjoyed it.
Ganya Ivolgin
هذا الكتاب لايقرأ فقط ..!!

بالنسبة لمحبي المسرحيات الغنائية خصوصا وبالأخص من شاهد واستمتع بالسحر الفائق الإنسجام والروعة للمسرحية الغنائية في نسختها التلفزيونية CATS,

سيجدون بالتأكيد المتعة الجذلة عند قراءة هذا الكتاب لإليوت..
فمع كل جزئية نقرأها في وصف إحدى القطط تستحضر مخيلتنا الجزئية الخاصة بها في الفيلم مجسدة فتتمازج المتعة الشعرية والبصرية والحسية في آن ..

لذلك فتقييمي العالي دافعه أني أحببت ولازلت أحب المسرحية جدا ..!!

T.S. Eliot oughta immortalise my cat. *nods*
*envisions dueling Lloyd Webber for her memory*

Oh how fantastic, T. S. Eliot!! I can just imagine you letting your imagination run free, having a ball (a Jellicle!) w/ those marvelous rhymes! I decided to read this work of yours after watching "Cats" last week on PBS, the musical based on this work. I wanted to see how 'Memories' & the cat who sang it came into your cat lexicon. But, I now know I have to check w/ ALWebber for that. ;-)

{PS. For the record, I'm a dog lover -- never, unfortunately, been loved by a cat. But I can still like

"But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride"—'The Naming of Cats'

Having recently had the opportunity to enjoy multiple performances of McCoy Rigby Entertainment's very excellent regional theater production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular stage musical, CATS, here in Southern California; I was compelled, finally, to go to the so
Long before Andrew Lloyd Webber's fabled musical, I read Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats to my sons and to one of them just after he was born, though I suspect the readings have had no lasting impact of them. These feline tales by Mr. Eliot stand as an interesting counterpoint to The Wasteland and Eliot's more serious musings and they have a kind of enduring charm for me, though they may seem rather dated & even ufunny to many others.

I am reminded of Fernando Pessoa's comment that withi
Ephemeral things tend, by their very nature, to be lost to posterity. Something that wasn't meant to survive usually doesn't. In many cases, this is perfectly fine but far too often good stuff is lost too.

But if someone gains a reputation, then sometimes the more ephemermal stuff comes along with it. After all, it will generally be regarded as being a part of the "canon", no matter how trivial.

Old Possum is a great example of this. There is nothing in here that will change your view of the world
If you saw and enjoyed the wonderful musical, Cats, you will love this book, which was first published in 1939. Not long ago joined our granddaughter at a performance of Cats and I remembered that I wanted to read this one. Let me share some of the wonderful phrases that found their way into musical. "Jellicle Cats come out to-night Jellicle Cats come one and all: The Jellicle Moon is shining bright - Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball. " Or, "I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydo ...more
Aug 23, 2007 hypothermya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of fun poetry, E. Gorey collectors, Andrew Lloyd Webber afficienados
Shelves: literature, poetry
I was given this book for a holiday present by AJ several years ago. He hunted down a first edition of the Edward Gorey illustrated version, which just happens to have been printed the same year as I was born. Needless to say, this is one of the books of which I'm very protective.

The book itself is a very sharp deviation from what T.S. Elliot normally writes. Compared with, say, The Wasteland, this book looks as though it was written by an entirely different author. However, that does not make
Callie Rose Tyler
"Jellicle cats come out tonight
Jellicle cats come one, come all
The jellicle moon is shining bright
Jellicles come to the jellicle ball"


I love Cats the musical and I knew it was "based" on a book by T.S. Eliot, but I didn't know that it practically IS the book of poetry by T.S. Eliot.

Some of these poems were hard to read without singing along. Love it! It just kind of proves that cats have always been a cultural obsession from Ancient Egypt to 1939 to lolcats.

If you love the music
Shayla Fish
Apr 18, 2012 Shayla Fish rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cat lovers, poets
I finally found this book hidden in our local library. I had looked for it time and time again before, but could never find it because it wasn't placed where it's call number said it would be.

and I was fairly disappointed after reading it.

It's a good representation of cats, making them more anthropomorphic in a kind of a humorous manner. What I technically mean is that by using real qualities in cats, the author interpreted them in a fictional way and we totally understand it.

Maybe I didn't lik
this is one of my favourite musicals - i re-watched the film the other night for the first time in a while and i remembered i have the book of poems the stage show is based on. i don't know if i got the full experience of the words on the page as i kept reading them in the way they're sung and that wasn't ts eliot's intention when he wrote them but they were fun, i enjoyed them a lot.
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Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, dramatist and literary critic. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry." He wrote the poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets; the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party; and the essay Tradition and the Individ ...more
More about T.S. Eliot...
The Waste Land and Other Poems The Waste Land Collected Poems, 1909-1962 The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Other Poems Four Quartets

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“The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”
“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover -
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”
More quotes…