Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On Cats” as Want to Read:
On Cats
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On Cats

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  882 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
Doris Lessing's love affair with cats began at a young age, when she became intrigued with the semiferal creatures on the African farm where she grew up. Her fascination with the handsome, domesticated creatures that have shared her flats and her life in London remained undiminished, and grew into real love with the awkwardly lovable El Magnifico, the last cat to share her ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 7th 2008 by Harper (first published 1967)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On Cats, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about On Cats

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
1,204 books — 653 voters
Dewey by Vicki MyronHomer's Odyssey by Gwen CooperThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussInto the Wild by Erin HunterOld Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
Cat Lovers List
803 books — 375 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
trina
Feb 01, 2009 trina rated it it was amazing
there exists within me, i am not ashamed to admit, a crazy cat lady who lives to talk about her cats in excessive and colorful detail, pretty much until my unsuspecting listener is fed up enough to stop me. this book is the vindication of my cat lady ways beyond any reasonable doubt.

i picked it up on a whim, in the mood for some light reading, and as we all know, nothing makes for good light reading like cute animal stories. little did i notice that this dinky little book was written by doris l
...more
Dawn
May 14, 2013 Dawn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I had no idea what I was getting myself into here. Checked this short book out of the library digitally on a whim and the next thing I knew, I was hooked. And the next thing I knew after that I was lying on the floor crying for all the cats I've ever known, loved, or had eye contact with. And Lyra was concerned, but annoyed because I kept trying to pick her up and squeeze her (she hates that).

Yes - I tend to be sentimental about my cats - all cats. And also about dogs, pigs, giraffes - pretty m
...more
Dion Yulianto
Dec 21, 2016 Dion Yulianto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Menulis, penulis, tidak muncul dari rumah yang tak punya buku." (hlm. 236)

Buku 'Tentang Kucing' ini sedikit banyak mengingatkan saya pada Istambulnya Pamuk. Jika Pamuk menggunakan kota sebagai refleksi memoarnya, maka Lessing menggunakan kucing. Lebih tepatnya, menggunakan kucing-kucingnya. Ada banyak sekali kucing di buku ini jadi mungkin kalau dibaca sekaligus bisa bikin bosan. Tapi, Lessing menghadirkan cerita tentang kucing-kucingnya dengan cara yang istimewa. Pecinta kucing bakal manggut-m
...more
l.
Jan 21, 2015 l. rated it did not like it
Doris Lessing would be the one person on earth who would begin a book marketed to cat-lovers with a literal cat massacre. This event [and some other horrors, cats being mistaken for snakes and killed, kittens killed by eagles etc] sets the stage for Lessing's incredibly old-fashioned 'life is harsh, and to cats too' approach to pet ownership.

Stories about tom cats fighting over your cat are not charming. Spaying your cat is not a feminist issue. Don't characterize your spayed cat as a bitter, dr
...more
Anna
Oct 26, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing
Last week, my family accidentally acquired a fifth cat. It happened like this: As my father prepared to back out of the garage on Wednesday, he was suddenly stopped by the appearance of a small, black-and-white creature—“There’s a cat in here!” he cried. My mother moved forward to look: “It’s a KITTEN!” Said kitten was amenable to being picked up and held, out of the way of the vehicle; when we offered her food (as ailurophiles do) she gobbled and gobbled, and then looked around for more. By tha ...more
Ezgi
Feb 03, 2016 Ezgi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
www.kitapezgisi.com

Kedilere dair bir kaç kitap okudum, çoğu sadece kedi severlerin ilgisini çekmek için yazılmış lay lay lom kitaplardandı. Sadece Sevgi Bağı isimli kitabı bayılarak okumuştum.

Bu kadar çok hayal kırıklığı yaşamış olsam da yine de dayanamadım kedili bir kitabı daha kitaplığıma dahil ettim, korkarak okumaya başladım. Fakat ne güzeldir ki hayal kırıklığına uğramadım bu sefer.

Doris Lessing çocukluğunda Afrika’da yaşamış, burada vahşi, evcil birçok kedi ile karşılaşmış birisi. Sonrası
...more
Deborah Pickstone
A memoir of her relationship with certain cats and her observations of them. Funny how many female novelists were fond of cats! As you would expect, well written and interesting.
Rachel Smalter Hall
Jan 19, 2009 Rachel Smalter Hall rated it it was amazing
I feel kind of weird giving one of those special five-star ratings to a book about, well, cats , but this was a pretty special book. Squeamish cat-lovers beware ~ Doris Lessing starts out by telling of her girlhood growing up on a farm in South Africa, shooting baby kittens with her father because they simply couldn't manage to keep them all. I actually love her for refusing to be sentimental. Yet somehow there is an acute tenderness in her writing about her cats, especially as she grows older, ...more
Pedro Varanda
Livro escrito com grande sensibilidade, mas sem pieguices sobre os muitos gatos e suas histórias, que povoaram a vida desta escritora desde a sua infância até à idade madura. Livro delicioso sobre a interacção destes animais cheios de carácter e independência, com os humanos seus "servos". Recomendo.
Adriana Scarpin
Jun 09, 2014 Adriana Scarpin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inglesa, gatos, iraniana
Tremendo livro para os amantes de gatos, Lessing não procura subterfúgios para mostrar o âmago da convivência com gatos, na morte, na doença, nos pequenos atos desses felinos com que dividiu anos ou horas, ela desbrava um universo quente de que também me orgulho de fazer parte.
Cat
Mar 02, 2009 Cat rated it it was amazing
So I'm going to bother typing a disclaimer that anyone who knows me already knows, which is: I am the target audience for this book.

That said, I absolutely adored this book. And it is not a cutesy, "awww, aren't kittens grand?" kind of book. Lessing is not a hugs and puppies kind of writer. There is an onslaught of gruesome cat death in this book, some of it carried out by Lessing herself. There is a kitty forelimb amputation; there are many scraggly and starving cats, ailing and scabbing and pu
...more
Bilgi
Mar 06, 2016 Bilgi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cat-shelf
Adı üstünde, Doris Lessing'in kedilerine dair bir kitap. Güney Afrika'dan başlayıp Londra'ya, İngiltere'nin kırsalına uzanan hayat yolculuğunda Lessing'in dostu olmuş onlarca kediden bazılarının hikayeleri.
Kitap kendi dönemi içinde (1940'lardan itibaren, 60'lara kadar olan dönem) değerlendirildiğinde, kedilerin insanlarla olan ortak yaşamına güzel bir pencere açıyor. O dönemde Güney Afrika'da bir beyaz çiftliğinde, Londra'da, İngiltere kırsalında kedilerle insanlarla nasıl yaşardı görebiliyor o
...more
dead letter office
Feb 15, 2009 dead letter office rated it really liked it
Doris ranks 4th from the bottom on my personal list of people I'd like to grab a beer with. But I guess that's not the point. She may be as finicky and uptight as her writing makes her seem, but this book is strangely readable, and anyone who has written a book of cat biographies that ends up being pretty interesting has accomplished something.

Doris writes, "Knowing cats, a lifetime of cats, what is left is a sediment of sorrow quite different from that due to humans: compounded of pain for thei
...more
Steve
Oct 28, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Doris Lessing's keen look at the relationships cats enjoy with each other and with us. While Lessing may anthropomorphize feline emotions and motivations, I would hazard most cat owners would view her musings as spot on while at the same time bring a knowing smirk to their lips.

My girlfriends 18 year old cat, Sassy, finally succumbed to her advanced age while I was reading this book. It definitely proved to be good comfort in relieving my mind of the haunted echos of Sassy's last few miaowings.
I
...more
Annie Yang-Perez
Jun 16, 2013 Annie Yang-Perez rated it it was amazing
Enchanting, delightful, honest, and sorrowful - it is incredible how cats can ever be understood so well by a human, or how much we see ourselves through cats. A most exquisite little book, about the most magical creatures ever existed.
Judy Abbott
Apr 30, 2016 Judy Abbott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harikulade bir kitap.
Gaby
Apr 07, 2017 Gaby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Es esencial aclarar, este libro es crudo en ocasiones, así que si alguien es susceptible hacía la muerte de animales le puede parecer una ofensa.
Yo entiendo perfectamente la reticencia de Lessing a ponerle nombre a sus gatos (hay una parte clave del libro dónde se evidencia esto), también me estoy basando objetivamente en el año que acontecen los sucesos para puntuarlo, si se mira detalladamente la manera en la que se describen las anécdotas, uno puede darse cuenta que no hay crueldad en las pág
...more
Lull Wain
Nov 17, 2011 Lull Wain rated it really liked it
Jedenaście jest symbolem przesady i nadmiaru. Na jedenaste urodziny dostałam od koleżanki z klasy niebieskie kocię. Przyniosła mi je w czerwonym płóciennym posłaniu, od spodu ozdobionym szkocką kratą, do tego kilka opakowań karmy dla kociąt i torebkę plastikowych myszek z dzwonkami w środku.
Siedem lat później to samo kocię leży na moich kolanach, głośno sapiąc w mój lewy nadgarstek, i patrzy, co też wypisuję na GoodReads.
W międzyczasie - to jest około roku dwa tysiące ósmego - w ręce wpadło mi
...more
Charles
Oct 01, 2012 Charles rated it liked it
The book is aptly names. The three stars doesn't reflect the content nor the quality of the writing, both of which gave a unique and interesting perspective on the relationship between a cat and it's owner, but rather on my own lack of profound interest in the subject.

That said, this book resonated with me. As a cat person the latter part of the book was well received, because I as well observe and (attempt to)deduce the actions of my feline companions. I admit that certain creatures were simply
...more
Amy Palmer
Nov 29, 2010 Amy Palmer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Cat lovers
Recommended to Amy by: @kayakgal
Upon seeing a book titled simply "On Cats" I knew I would love it. As it turned out, I was right, but some people would be surprised at my adoration of this work when they read some of the less "fuzzy" feelings toward cats that are described. There are many cat deaths at the hands of humans, including the author herself. It should be noted that many of these instances were in times much different than the one we are in now, not to mention a vastly different land.

It is not a warm, cuddly kitty ca
...more
Ceri
Dec 13, 2010 Ceri rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This is a book by Doris Lessing and her life with cats, the book is based on her love of the feline creatures that habitats her life, included in the book are two chapters on two cats she was particularly fond off, Rufus and El Magnifico.

This book is a lovely read, the style of writing is exquisite and she describes all manner of the cat’s personality and their traits. I wouldn’t say she has a particular love of cats but she sees certain qualities in them that draws them too her affectionately,
...more
Saara
Aug 18, 2012 Saara rated it it was amazing
On Cats is an omnibus edition of three books by Doris Lessing, a significant contemporary author: Particularly Cats, Rufus the Survivor and The Old Age of El Magnifico. We are treated to stories, enchanting fragments, about some of the cats who have shared her life; in vivid, masterful prose we are shown quirks, conflicts, tender moments, and are made to love these creatures as if we had truly met them in person. While reading I wept, giggled, cooed over the book, seeing in my mind's eye the var ...more
Jennifer Black
Jan 08, 2009 Jennifer Black rated it liked it
I'm enjoying this book - it's not exactly what I thought it would be, but when I think more about it, I'm not sure what I thought it would be about.

I do find it odd that none of the cats seem to be named - they are referred to in the book as "grey cat", "black cat". Is that normal for British cats to not have names? It makes the stories a bit harder to follow along with, and irritates me a bit, but not enough to stop reading...

I really enjoyed the last few chapters of this book - don't know whet
...more
Iowa City Public Library
I feel kind of weird giving one of those special five-star ratings to a book about, well, cats , but this was a pretty special book. Squeamish cat-lovers beware ~ Doris Lessing starts out telling of her girlhood growing up on a farm in South Africa, shooting baby kittens with her father because they simply could not manage to keep them all. I actually love her for refusing to be sentimental. Yet somehow there is an acute tenderness in her writing about her cats, especially as she grows older, ...more
Kai Schreiber
Quite an odd book, and an odd voice. Brutally unsentimental in outlook, yet tender in her description toward individual cats, Lessing manages to both capture the sadness inherent in the idea of keeping pets and the joy of sharing existence with them.

Oddly, the publisher chose to include so much glimpses into Lessing's other works with the ebook, that On Cats itself actually only made up a third of the file. On the one hand, that's fine, as it costs neither me nor them something to do that. On th
...more
astried
Oct 22, 2010 astried rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
This is a book truly about cat.It shows how lovable cat is without resorting to sugar coating cat's behavior or pretend that human can read cat's mind or vice versa as in Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. Cats will always be its own master no matter what human would like to otherwise believe. And yet because of it the relationship between cat and human is even more special. Black cat, Grey cat, Rufus, El Magnifico, their stories truly touched me and made me missed my faraw ...more
Vincent
Oct 01, 2010 Vincent rated it liked it
First off anyone who reads a book like this is probably a cat lover, and that's a good thing. A dog person would not care about or appreciate this book. Fine. I don't want their slobbery paws on this nice copy anyway.
Lessing fills this book with a series of episodes from her life that illustrate her experiences with cats. One of the most horrible is when she was a kid and some cats went out of control breeding and left 100 kittens everywhere. her dad took a gun and shot each cat one by one. It
...more
Kimi
Mar 30, 2009 Kimi rated it it was amazing
first of all, all books should look and handle like this: a small hardback that fits into your hands, isn't hard to hold open, has an attractive cover.
'on cats' is a collection of three essays that lessing published over the years. this isn't 'oh, happy kitty, soft, cuddly' cat stories. most of it concerns the hard realities that make up the lives of most cats, (unfortunately). but there are some really wonderful stories here, and if you enjoy lessing's style of writing, then you'll really enjoy
...more
Huriye C
May 24, 2016 Huriye C rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ein Buch, das nicht so berühmt ist wie andere Kunstwerke von der Autorin.
Hier erzählt Lessing 14 Geschichten, in dem sie über Katzen berichtet, die ihr jemals über den Weg gelaufen sind. Ich habe es von einem netten Herren bei meinem letzten Museumsbesuch geschenkt bekommen, sonst wäre ich wohl nicht darauf gestoßen.

' .. denn das Leben einer Stadtkatze ist so unnatürlich, dass sie niemals die Unabhängigkeit entwickelt, die eine Landkatze hat. '
Carmen
Jul 29, 2012 Carmen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Gatos transformados em personagens principais, com manias, temperamentos e histórias entrecruzadas. Histórias de vida com gatos, gatos que fazem parte da vida e cujas memórias se confundem com as memórias dessa vida.

Gatos que se amam (ou não), que interagem com outros gatos, que fazem amigos e amantes.

Recomendo este livro a todos os que vivem (viveram) com gatos ou que por eles são apaixonados.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Very sick book for cat lovers 3 20 Apr 11, 2014 07:13PM  
  • The Character of Cats: The Origins, Intelligence, Behavior, and Stratagems of Felis Silvestris Catus
  • The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats
  • The Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care
  • Cats In May
  • The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats: A Journey into the Feline Heart
  • Secrets of the Cat
  • Cat vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat
  • Casper the Commuting Cat: The True Story of the Cat who Rode the Bus and Stole our Hearts
  • James Herriot's Cat Stories
  • Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse
  • The English Harem
  • Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking
  • Enough To Make A Cat Laugh
  • Das Dorf der Mörder (Sanela Beara, #1)
  • Viskleken (Opcop, #1)
  • A London Child of the 1870s
  • The Cat Who Covered the World: The Adventures Of Henrietta And Her Foreign Correspondent
  • Непоседа (Приключения Трикса, #2)
7728
Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Oliv ...more
More about Doris Lessing...

Share This Book



“The kitten was six weeks old. It was enchanting, a delicate fairy-tale cat, whose Siamese genes showed in the shape of the face, ears, tail, and the subtle lines of its body. [...] She sat, a tiny thing, in the middle of a yellow carpet, surrounded by five worshipppers, not at all afraid of us. Then she stalked around that floor of the house, inspecting every inch of it, climbed up on to my bed, crept under the fold of a sheet, and was at home.” 16 likes
“If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of suble air.” 10 likes
More quotes…