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To Be A Cat

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  733 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Barney Willow thinks life couldn't get any worse. He's weedy, with sticky-out ears. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him - Barney has no idea why. And headteacher-from-hell Miss Whipmire seems determined to make every second of Barney's existence a complete misery! Worst of all, Dad has been missing for almost a year, and there's no sign of him ever coming home.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 2nd 2012 by Bodley Head
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4.03  · 
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 ·  733 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To Be A Cat is a stand-alone book for young readers by popular British author, Matt Haig. It’s Barney Willow’s twelfth birthday, but it’s hardly what you’d call a happy one. His parents are divorced, and his dad’s been missing, properly missing, since last summer. His mum is sad and a bit manic. He’s constantly picked on, by everyone, from the kids at school, especially that bully Gavin Needle, to the head teacher, Miss Polly Whipmire. He has one good friend, and she’s a girl; she’s not a girlfr ...more
Shirley Revill
I decided to listen to this audiobook having read a couple of other books by Matt Haig.
It wasn't till I started listening that I realised it was a children's Y/A book but it was so good I finished the audiobook.
Absolutely brilliant. Recommended.
Lyndsey O'Halloran
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Although I knew To Be A Cat is aimed at a younger audience than the books I would normally read, I loved The Radleys so was determined to give it a go anyway. I'm glad I did.

Having always had cats in our family, Haig drew me in by telling me that cats are magical. The book starts off with a fantastic list of the reasons why cats are magical and the different things that they can do and I loved this. Even before the story had begun, this book had a real fun and light-hearted feel to it. I was sa
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've loved everything Matt Haig's written since discovering him through The Last Family in England, which is still in my all time favourites list. I need to tell you though that this book is quite firmly in the aimed-at-children bracket - large print, relatively simple language (but absolutely no talking down...). But I absolutely loved it, from the intro where the author - who butts into the story every so often, to wonderful comic effect - sets out seven magic things about cats. The gist of th ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful little book. It centres around unconditional loyalty, courage in the face of impossible circumstances and the surprise that things are never as scary as you make them out to be, even bullies. A young boy, Barney, isn't very popular as a human as wishes that he could be a cat - as he believes they have an easier life than him. As a human he is being bullied by another boy, has a headteacher from hell, and his dad has been missing for a year; something which many children could ...more
Jenny Mackinlay
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love Matt Haig. Full stop. And I admire that he does such different things. This is more overtly a kids' book than most of his other work (a lot of it is or should be recognised as crossover) but I think is a terrific example of 'all ages' storytelling. Plus fabulously wonky illustrations by Pete Williamson who should receive his due of praise.
C Wharton
I went to one of Matt Haig's book readings in Liverpool with my Mum and Dad, and bought this book while I was there. Matt Haig was very nice and took the time to speak to us, sign this book for me and have a photograph taken with us.

This is about a boy called Barney Willow, who's life isn't going too well. His parents are divorced, his dad has gone missing, he is being bullied at school and then he unexpectedly and spontaneously turns into a cat. When I read this book, I was so engrossed and tra
Saima Nisbet
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
The other books by Matt Haig that I've read almost read like children's literature, with simple stories in simple words, however this one was intentionally written for children and it was a delight to read. As a cat owner, I was drawn in by the title and knowing what to expect from the author, the story didn't disappoint. The intrigue and suspense was perfect for the genre and for once, I'm going to give one of my books away to a child so that they can enjoy it too.
Leilani Hesketh
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Genevieve Austin
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book.

-Sense of Adventure 76%
-Sense of Humour 61%
-Family Love 50%
-Vile Principals 100%
-Cats..... Well, there are 500% cats in this book!

Do not read if you're a dog lover :P
Tina Ellis
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will now be...
1. Careful what I wish for.
2. Deeply suspicious about anyone in a management position with a cat calendar.
Rebecca Beasley
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had read how to stop time and popped matt haig into the search bar for an audiobook - quite unintentionally downloaded it not realising it was a kids book I just love cats! glad I did though - well written and enjoyable!
Nisha Vyas-Myall
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I actually wanted to give this book 4.5 stars, but since I can't, it's a four.

I'll start with the 0.5 with which it was marked down. Sometimes the writing as a little forced. But it was very infrequent and usually one line here and there. Nothing that it particularly concerning and will probably go unnoticed by readers of the target age group (I'm 26, so a bit old for this book. But I'm a sucker for anything to do with cats).

So onto the positives. It's funny. Really funny. The writer has a way o
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was so excited to read To Be A Cat by Matt Haig and fortunately, it lived up to all my expectations. To Be A Cat ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for a book that’s funny, action-packed and full of furry animals. The story takes place over a couple of days and features rapid chase scenes, amazing transformations and life-changing epiphanies. What more can one ask for? To Be A Cat was a really fantastic story; I finished it in one sitting.

Barney’s life is not going well. He’s being bullied
C Cédille
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being in a much better place in my life, this book did not appeal to me as much as it could have, say, when I was much younger and also bullied in school. Matt Haig still spins a wonderful tale around a very "Matt Haig" message, which is : you have to like yourself and never, ever wish to be anything or anyone else. And that is a as important a message as you can give to children in the main character's sort of predicament. It's rather a novel approach, in fact. Love yourself, and don't ever let ...more
Teresa Bateman
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I got an ARC of this book several years ago and have just gotten down to it in the stack. In this UK import Barney Willow is dealing with problems. His parents are divorced and his father has disappeared. The principal is making his life miserable, and a bully is targeting him. Wouldn't it be lovely to just be a cat instead? Little does he realize that this is all part of a nefarious plot that actually turns him into a cat. Now, will he end up dead, or find a way to turn back into a boy? The sto ...more
Helen King
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-book
This is a book that I think is best read aloud - certainly my children (10 and 7) thought so. There is a lot of humour, mixed in with pathos and lessons in life that were not laid on too thickly. We also love a play on words, and a narrator who pops in and out (a different style of writing for my kids), lots of interesting characters and a degree of realism (not so much in terms of the actual story - unless there really are people who can turn into cats?) with an ending which is not too neatly t ...more
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feline
I have to thank my niece Eve for lending this to me. (I did buy it for her but I restrained myself until she had read it first.)

A few things to bear in mind if you are considering reading this: -

Don’t read this book if you think dogs are better than cats.

If you think head teachers and Siamese cats are evil this book confirms it.

If you think Mr Tiddles from the film Cats and Dogs is the most evil cat on this planet you are in for a shock, Caramel is much, much worse.

Avoid reading this book before
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, young-adult, the-boy
Thoroughly enjoyable, a little cliched, a little predictable - but I have to remember this was not written for thirty somethings but for young adults and on that level it's excellent. I read this because I love Matt Haig and I love cats - Matt Haig's work for adults is pretty dark and I was pleasantly surprised that he could get down to this fairly cheerful level - not to say there isn't some darkness in this book, there is but he really knows his audience, how to speak to them and how to use th ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Even though this is a children's book, it doesn't mean adults won't enjoy it, too. (I'm an adult and I liked it!) This book perfectly illustrates the saying, "Be careful what you wish for." The title gives the reader a strong hint about the main character, Barney Willow's wish, but one of the strengths of the book is the author's imagination in developing creative characters and plot events to follow up when Barney's wish comes true. Also, Mr. Haig has a definite ability to understand his charac ...more
Sean Randall
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rather sadly, we've just had to surrender a kitten due to family allergies. We only had her a week but she made a big impact, so reading this was a painful exercise in spots! But I did enjoy the story and I know it's one my daughter will enjoy also when she's a bit older.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
What would it be like to be something other than human? That is just what Barney finds out when he thinks how lovely it would be to be a cat...

A fun children's read.
For a children's book, that was so good.

We've read Matt Haig's Christmas trilogy, which we all enjoyed very much and so were expecting this to be enjoyable. It didn't disappoint.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
311 pages in 6 days!
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book

This is a very good book it has a unique genre and is suitable for a wide range of ages ☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was really fun and I really enjoyed his adventure as a cat
Miranda Kate
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this to my 9yo, who also enjoyed it too. It led to debates about whether some people are cats or not - and for a while there we believed they might be!

A fast paced, well-written, suspense-filled story about a boy Barney whose wish to become a cat comes true, and he realises that it's not always a good thing to get what you wish for. The underline message in this book is an important one: it is about accepting yourself and enjoy being who you are, because you are uniq
Ellis Moore
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I listened to this book as an audiobook, which definitely made it even more enjoyable.

This is a great listen for children 11+ and above, but as an adult, or a parent listening with children, it's utterly charming and a great opportunity to practice your best cat voices if you're reading out loud.

As the title suggests, our protagonist, Barney, wonders what it would be like 'to be a cat.' Barney isn't having the easiest time with his parents divorce, school bullies and the most evil head mistres
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Meh... this book was brilliantly funny and good at the beginning, but then I discovered that I had to read it one morning between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a club, so I needed to read it quick, and that might be reason why it got a bit tedious and annoying when I read it.

TO BE A CAT: Barney Willow, the Least Likely person to Become A Cat, just Did. He woke up one morning and felt A Bit Furry, and then he nearly Got Eaten by his dog Guster. Then, his Evil Head from Hell came along and trapped him in
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I really have to commend Matt on (another) great YA book. I know this is not a just-released book, but it is still topical. This flows really well and has some really good characters that will capture a youthful mind. Diverse, but not overly, it brings nice weight to subjects that kids will be all too familiar with–attitudes and manners, family life and loss etc. Quick and easy read without the feeling of being too short or easy. I like that in a book, especially when it fuels the imaginat ...more
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Matt Haig was born in Sheffield, England in1975. He writes books for both adults and children, often blending the worlds of domestic reality and outright fantasy, with a quirky twist. His bestselling novels are translated into 28 languages. The Guardian has described his writing as 'delightfully weird' and the New York Times has called him 'a novelist of great talent' whose writing is 'funny, rive ...more
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“But stories aren't always lies. They are things stored in all our imaginations-hence the name stories-and it is the author's job to point them out.” 1 likes
“Life wasn't ever one ingredient. It was several. And some flavors were bad and some were good, but love was the strongest of all. If you were loved, you had everything.” 1 likes
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