Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
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Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  11,519 ratings  ·  469 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 CarrollPuss in Boots by Charles Perrault
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Community Reviews

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Apr 10, 2012 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 in my book If Research Were Romance and Other Implausible Conjectures
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...more
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.
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...more
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.
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...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...more

"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...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...more
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...more
aPriL meows 'n growls TLDR
"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.

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...more
Macavity - The Mystery Cat

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw--
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no on like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime--Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the bas
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...more
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 25, 2013 April rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cat lovers, poetry lovers
Recommended to April by: Kirsty
A beautiful gift received by Kirsty, 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats' was gorgeously fun, and warmed my heart all the way through. An avid cat lover myself, I was charmed by each feline and thought it excellent the characters that Eliot spun for each. Fun and absorbing, it further persuaded me to pick up Eliot's later collection of poems, as it was absolutely wonderful. 'The Naming of Cats' was surely my favourite!
“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday
Nick Dolan

It's not surprising this book inspired the musical Cats because it could fairly be compared to a bright neon sign on Broadway that says, surrounded by bright flashing bulbs: CATS! CATS! CATS!

TS Eliot loves cats. That he does not love the Chinese people is forgivable in the face of his wit.

“With Cats, some say, one rule is true:
Don’t speak till you are spoken to.
Myself, I do not hold with that —
I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.
But always keep in mind that he
Resents familiarity.
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...more
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...more
Mary Overton
You've read of several kinds of Cat,
And my opinion now is that
You should need no interpreter
To understand their character.
You now have learned enough to see
That Cats are much like you and me
And other people whom we find
Possessed of various types of mind.
For some are sane and some are mad
And some are good and some are bad
And some are better, some are worse -
But all may be described in verse.

I look forward to attending the musical, CATS, and in preparation am studying Eliot's "Practical Cats" poem...more
Minh Quan Nguyen
This is a hilarious book about cats. I laugh so much when reading these poems of Eliot. These poems are full of everyday behaviour of cats and Eliot with his genius use of language makes these become so charming and hilarious. I like dog much more than cat but these poems are so good.

When the family assembled for Sunday dinner,
With their minds made up that they wouldn't get thinner
On Argentine point, potatoes and greens,
And the cook would appear from behind the scenes
And say in a voice that wa
Jade Moore
As a cat owner I knew before I started reading this that I would enjoy it. One thing I find with writing about cats is that there is a personality that cats share, which makes them both funny and endearing, an aspect of felines that all cat owners will recognise.
In this collection of poems, a voice is present from the start and carried through in it's own way throughout each poem, as they are all similar, at the same time as being different. The flow of the poems are enjoyable; they read well a...more
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 ..!!

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...more
I normally find poetry intimidating (residual unpleasantness from high school/college lit classes), I really enjoyed this book. There are lots of cute made up words and the poems are very easy to read. I felt like I could really bond with the author over cats. I hope to read this together with my daughter once she's old enough to read or at least can sit still a bit longer than she can now.
T.S. Eliot oughta immortalise my cat. *nods*
*envisions dueling Lloyd Webber for her memory*

I first read this in 2011, not knowing much about poetry, and wasn't particularly impressed. 2 years later, I like this collection a lot more. Eliot's rhymes read effortlessly and he is very clever. Also I love cats too. Highlights: "The Naming of Cats" and "The Rum Tum Tugger."
If you like cats, especially if you live with cats, this is a wonderful book. I think actually own three of the ones Eliot writes about. I HATE the musical; really hate the musical. I LOVE this book. You have to read it aloud. My favorite Eliot work by far.
Jason Kirk
I'm not a fan of pets, so when my cohabitors wanted a kitten, my condition was that I got to name it. Part of my research involved this one-of-a-kind book of children's poems -- the first of which is called "The Naming of Cats" ("...a difficult matter, / It isn't just one of your holiday games") -- a total surprise coming from the author of The Waste Land . And although this small book didn't yield any specific ideas for a name (I eventually chose Rūmī), it does boast a number of cats with utter...more
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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.”
“With Cats, some say, one rule is true:
Don’t speak till you are spoken to.
Myself, I do not hold with that —
I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.
But always keep in mind that he
Resents familiarity.
I bow, and taking off my hat,
Ad-dress him in this form: O Cat!
But if he is the Cat next door,
Whom I have often met before
(He comes to see me in my flat)
I greet him with an oopsa Cat!
I think I've heard them call him James —
But we've not got so far as names.”
More quotes…