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The Fur Person

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  909 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
May Sarton's fictionalized account of her cat Tom Jones's life and
adventures prior to making the author's acquaintance begins with a
fiercely independent, nameless street cat who follows the ten
commandments of the Gentleman Cat—including "A Gentleman Cat allows no
constraint of his person, not even loving constraint." But after several
years of roaming, Tom has grown tired of
Paperback, 112 pages
Published December 7th 1983 by W. W. Norton & Co. (first published 1957)
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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
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19th out of 1,047 books — 590 voters
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Best Books About Animals
123rd out of 1,027 books — 1,363 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,136)
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Rebecca Foster
I’m a huge fan of May Sarton’s journals – in which various cats play supporting roles – so for a while I’d been hoping to come across a copy of this little novelty book from 1957, a childish fable about a tomcat who transforms from a malnourished Cat-About-Town to a spoiled Gentleman Cat. In a preface to the 1978 edition Sarton reveals that Tom Jones was, indeed, a real cat, a stray she and her partner Judy Matlack adopted when they lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wonderful coincidence: when ...more
Sep 05, 2015 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the whole world, a gigantic lap
Recommended to Mariel by: the mouse is at large
Glossy and glorious,
Lordly and lazy
And catnip crazy,
Yes, glorious Jones
Is me!

The ten commandments of the Gentleman Cat, that cat about town rise up within his heart at wild. Dandy and fancy free. Fancy feast all free, though perhaps something better than that canned stuff. You know what I mean. Deliciousness without consequences. The cat his housekeepers named Tom Jones gets fat (what a great name for a foundling cat). How lovely to be a cat and your dinner is both expected and a surprising trea
Jun 11, 2015 Hilary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cat people (Fur People, if you will.)
Shelves: fiction, 2015
Like many of the books I've recently reviewed, I picked this book at The Book Thing based off the fact it looked and sounded silly rather than any real understanding of what it contained.

The title, the cover, and even the little blurb on the front and back of this book really don't do it much justice.

Rather than being something questionable, this book turned out to be a rather charming romp through the life of a cat. The prose was generally pretty, and the story incredibly sweet. I think the bul
Apr 26, 2015 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
The first sentence: When he was about two years old, and had been a Cat About Town for some time, glorious in conquests, but rather too thin for comfort, the Fur Person decided that it was time he settled down.

Favorite quote: It is a known fact that if one sits long enough in front of a door, doing the proper yoga exercise, the door will open.

This was such a heart warming story. Although it is the true story of how Fur Person aka Tom Jones came to live with the author and her partner it is told
Sep 04, 2013 Lori rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: cat lovers, bedtime-story seekers
A charming first-purrson account of a tomcat's search for the good life, and his adventures and misadventures along the way, this thinly-veiled account of her own cat's life story comes from a writer who evidently has observed the behavior and sensibilities of cats with a careful and sympathetic eye. Sarton can turn phrases exquisitely, and her high regard for catly dignity shines through even her most humorous passages. Sentimental but not cloying, this story belongs on the insomniac bookshelf ...more
Kris Sellgren
Jul 28, 2013 Kris Sellgren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This story of how a Gentleman Cat from the rough streets of Boston becomes a Fur Person, living with not one but two spinsters, is utterly charming. One of these spinsters is the poet May Sarton, who infuses the narrative voice of the Fur Person with solemn dignity, feline calculation, and a love of making up songs to suit each situation. I particularly liked his curse of a Siamese cat who has the audacity to drive him away when he tries to beg for food at the Siamese's house: "May your milk tur ...more
Deborah Pickstone
A rather charming account of a stray cat's quest to find a 'housekeeper'. Dated language and stereotyping (ie the use of the term 'old maid') are entirely congruent with the date of publication :) Very subtle allusion to author's own lesbian status - she was brave enough, in that era, to 'come out'.
Lisa Vegan
May 13, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who knows & loves cats, May Sarton fans
Shelves: fiction, reviewed, novel
She knows cats. ;-)

I read this when I was on a May Sarton kick. This was one of the few that was a relief from the emotional pain that’s present in so many of her books. It’s truly delightful and I especially recommend it to those who have known at least one cat well, but even cat neophytes or those who are ignorant about cats can appreciate it.
Greg Youmans
Jan 07, 2014 Greg Youmans rated it really liked it
I picked up this book at a library sale on a whim, because I love cats and I knew just a smidge about May Sarton, but what I heard is that she was an East Coast analogue to Elsa Gidlow--a woman who lived a long openly gay life across the 20th century and whom younger woman gathered around for feminist and lesbian inspiration in the 1970s and 1980s. There's a picture of Sarton on the back of the book that couldn't be better. I looked at it all the time whenever my interest flagged and it spurred ...more
May 24, 2011 Hilary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Ten Commandments of the Gentleman Cat
I. A Gentleman Cat has an immaculate shirt front and paws at all times.
II. A Gentleman Cat allows no constraint of his person, even loving constraint.
III. A Gentleman Cat does not mew except in extremity. He makes his wishes known and waits.
IV. When addressed, a Gentleman Cat does not move a muscle. He looks as if he hadn't heard.
V. When frightened, a Gentleman Cat looks bored.
VI. A Gentleman Cat takes no interest in other people's affairs, unless he is d
Jann Barber
Dec 14, 2014 Jann Barber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the techs at my vet's clinic had this book when I was there on Thursday, and she loaned it to me to read. It is a small book, but much like a cat, small things can have big messages.

It is the story of one cat's journey from kittenhood to realization that he is a Fur Person. Anyone who has lived with and loved a feline will enjoy this story.

My favorite bit: "For a Fur Person is a cat whom human beings love in the right way, allowing him to keep his dignity, his reserve and his freedom. And
Tejas Janet
Dec 23, 2015 Tejas Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. So dear and entertaining. Very easy to read. But also so worth it, especially if you have any love or empathy for cats.

Very dear poem/songs by the cat. I think this is very close to my experience of my many dear feline friends who have come to live with me. And have come to love me as an unfurry feline.
Jul 24, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it
This is labeled children's literature, but it is really for all cat lovers! The Fur Person is the story about a stray cat in Boston who decides he needs to find a housekeeper to make his life better. He eventually finds the author of this wonderful book. May Sarton writes the story of the Fur Person's life as a cat-about-town and later how he assimilates himself into Sarton's household. Of course, this is all from the cat's point of view. I love the cat's numerous commandments on the proper way ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shelley by: Beth
Shelves: fiction, animals, 2015
I like a lot of things about this book:
1. Narrated by a cat who makes up songs and poems and gives himself capitalized names like Cat About Town.
2. He decides to take housekeepers, so he moves in with two old maids named Brusque Voice and Gentle Voice. (secret lesbians <3)
3. Every day he sits in the window to get the news by watching all the neighborhood animals pass by.
4. He really likes proving that he's the toughest cat in the neighborhood until the housekeepers take him to get fixed and
Feb 14, 2016 Jessie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"For a Fur Person is a cat whom human beings love in the right way, allowing him to keep his dignity, his reserve and his freedom. And a Fur Person is a cat who has come to love one or, in very exceptional cases, two human beings and who has decided to stay with them as long as he lives. This can only happen if the human being has imagined part of himself into a cat just as the cat has imagined part of himself into a human being. It is a mutual exchange... the Eleventh Commandment must go someth ...more
Betty Silvia
Sep 12, 2015 Betty Silvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book! Told in the perspective of a cat, this tale describes the life of a free-wheeling Cat About Town who becomes a Gentleman Cat and pursues the quieter life with "housekeepers". After being adopted by 2 ladies, he gets a real name of Tom Jones. In this book, he shares his songs as well as the many commandments of cat behavior. This was very well written with an occasional illustration. A highly amusing and entertaining tale.
Mar 21, 2016 Chazzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, humour
Fur Person started out life as an orphan being raised by s young freckled faced boy. It wasn't the best way to start out but it did provide him shelter and steady food. At age six months he decided to take a stroll and never looked back.

With a white bib and white tip of a tail, he became a Gentleman Cat About Town. He learned to cadge food from various grocers, enjoy glorious conquests and adept at standing up for himself. He also learned to sleep with one ear listening and ready to move when da
Dec 30, 2008 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book for cat lovers. I was able to read the book in one sitting so if you're looking for something deep, this isn't it. If you're looking for something fun to read, that will make you smile and laugh, this is the book for you. The book is written from a cats point of view. If you live with cats, you would definitely appreciate this book. It put me in a wonderful mood after reading it :-).
May 15, 2013 Ariel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult
How I love this book by poet May Sarton about her Gentleman Cat, Tom Jones (because Tom Jones was also a foundling!) and his Ten Commandments, especially 3: "A Gentleman Cat does not mew except in extremity. He makes his wishes known and waits." I plan to buy several copies and send them to friends for birthdays.
Jun 02, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing
My mother gave this to me for Christmas probably because I had cats and then I immediately read everything she had written. My mother told me years later that May Sarton’s father had come to Indiana University and lectured on the History of Science. She and my father met him. May Sarton came to Seattle in March 28, 1990, the day before my father died. I was lucky enough to be able to go see and hear her read. One of the more interesting questions that was asked of her was how she could reveal he ...more
Jun 05, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, favorites
In the middle of this book, two cats have a spontaneous rap battle. Worth the read for that alone.

(Note: Goodreads page count is wrong on the paperback.)
Oct 08, 2015 Malvina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is narrated by the Gentleman Cat of the title - a street cat - who eventually becomes 'Tom Jones', adopted by a couple of humans. Quick to read, with some charming B&W drawings, the book starts out with a slightly lordly, militant cat who roams the streets. But by the time he is two, he decides it's time to find a home. Easier said than done. The part where he goes to the 'hospital' is very funny, for what is mostly unsaid... Love this quote at the end: A Gentleman Cat becomes a Fur Per ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cat, 2015
A very cute read for anyone who likes cats.
Oct 19, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Cat Lovers
Recommended to Susan by: I know some one person gave me my first copy but I can't recall 2when or who.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 30, 2014 Florence rated it really liked it
This slender volume made me wonder what my six cats might be thinking. Do they like me or do I annoy them? Are they content to watch birds from the sun porch or do they feel like prisoners being forced to live their lives indoors? May Sarton gets us into the mind of a former Tomcat About Town as he navigates through dangerous territory. And she's correct. A cat that willingly surrenders some of his wildness in exchange for the love of a human is not getting a bad deal.
May 09, 2014 Shauna rated it really liked it
Shelves: talking-cats
This was a delicious little book that gives voice to a knock-about Tom cat who ingratiates himself to two spinster ladies, one of whom is the writer of this tale. As he comes to know love and stability, he turns into the remarkable "fur person" of the story. I have labeled this a talking cat book, but our cat is only given a voice through personification; we hear his thoughts and feelings expressed, but there is no fantasy involved for him to truly communicate with humans.
Miriam Walker
Feb 06, 2016 Miriam Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
I read The Fur Person for the first time over the Christmas holidays 2015. It was a gift to myself though I suspect my cat wanted it too. And what a treat! The book is a nice size, quite compact at 111 pages, 12 chapters, and with gorgeous illustrations of Tom Jones - that Gentleman Cat About Town with his "teddy bear tummy". There are some great poems too:

"I'm a whiffling wonder
And my purr's like thunder.
I'm an elegant fellow
And my temper's mellow"...

It was tempting to read the book in one sitt
Kathleen L Donnelly
Exceptional lIttle Book

I loved our Gentleman Cat with all his quirks, humor and love. I adore all felines and believe I have Lady Cat to match our hero. Wonderful book that is read entirely with a smile on your face. Recommended highly and very good for children of 6 and up.
Jun 07, 2014 Teckla rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book even though the title threw me off at first. It is a story about a cat living on the street who decides he wants to live in a house, be a house cat. The entire story is told from his point of view. The fur person in the title is actually the cat not a human person. I think if you are a cat lover you will enjoy this book. The author did an excellent job of describing a cat's viewpoint...or to me it seems very close as to what I think my cats might be thinking wh ...more
Mar 29, 2015 Blair rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Given to me as a gift; a sweet little story. Neither of my cats could be considered "fur persons" according to the definition offered by Sarton, but it was still a fun read. That being said, I will not be keeping this book.
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May Sarton was born on May 3, 1912, in Wondelgem, Belgium, and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first volume of poetry, Encounters in April, was published in 1937 and her first novel, The Single Hound, in 1938. An accomplished memoirist, Sarton boldly came out as a lesbian in her 1965 book Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Her later memoir, Journal of a Solitude, was an account of h ...more
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