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The Cat Inside

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,506 ratings  ·  234 reviews
Best known for the wild, phantasmagoric satire of works like Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs reveals another, gentler side in The Cat Inside. Originally published as a limited-edition volume, this moving and witty discourse on cats combines deadpan routines and dream passages with a heartwarming account of Burroughs's unexpected friendships with the many cats he has know ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 29th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 1986)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,506 ratings  ·  234 reviews

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Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is not going to change your life, that's for sure. It's not one of those once-in-a-lifetime reads that blow your mind and help you shape your intellect. It's neither an essential nor a revutionary milestone in literature.

But it's just so nice to read it. These few pages bring such a breath of fresh air that the reader's mood hightens in delight. It's a collection of short paragraphs in which William Burroughs, the author of "Naked Lunch" (one of the most controversial works in all-tim
Jon Nakapalau
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very strange trip - but worth the fall!
Arthur Graham
May 14, 2012 rated it liked it
When I was a young boy, I was absolutely vile to our family cat. I didn't cut it up or torture it or anything, but let's just say that, looking back, I'm amazed to have retained any memories at all of the poor thing purring in my lap...

Don't get me wrong - I still terrorize my current cat. Only now the terror is tempered with a tender, loving benevolence, a genuine desire to nurture and protect, as opposed to the thoughtless cruelty that comes so naturally to children. I might joke around about
Peter Tillman
Interesting, very short book about cats he's had over the years. Impressionsistic and often doesn't make linear sense, especially to one who doesn't know (or care) much about Burroughs. Regardless, if you like cats, and want to say you've finished a book by Burroughs, this is the way to go.

Some bits are quite moving: his Russian Blue Ruski was picked up by Animal Control in Lawrence, Kansas and, by the time Burroughs recovered him, very badly frightened. It turned out the town put out traps for
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book so much more than I imagined I would. It was interesting and sad, in a way that is so easy to relate to personal depression. Very good.
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is nothing like anything I've previously read by Burroughs. Though there are parts that definitely show his sense of humor and style of writing. Basically its a celebration of cats and only something I can see as being enjoyed by someone who also loves cats. Although I haven't had a cat in many years this book really spoke to me and I enjoyed it and read it on a long lonely bus ride and it made my day happier.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gretel, Declan, Jarvis, Hannah, and Björk all agree: 10 stars.

Keeg and Georgia think it’s absolute shit, giving it no stars.

As intermediary I split the difference.

Fucking dogs—I’m with my cat herd on this one. Simply lovely, and as far from the WSB most know as the Angels are from getting in the postseason.

Color me calico?

Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: musings
What a lovely little book. A synthesis of a cat lover's sentimentality, with some sparkling of Zen and Old Bull Lee's wild deep prophetic rants. For me, Burroughs is this Shamanic figure, with a strangeness about his writing which creates a very primal connection, as if one is caught in a telepathic ayahusca ritual with him. This book, however, was a surprise introduction to his caring and soft side. Intended as a collection of anecdotes and musings about his various cats, it is also a semi-auto ...more
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have not read a lot of Burroughs, but after reading this short and touching collection taken from his journals, I wonder if I may have been overlooking the spirit of the man. For all of the crazy shit that he ever got into and wrote about, this book brought me to tears at points in its simple innocence and genuine love. In this short book, Burroughs reveals a gentle and familiar change of heart; from callous indifference to a bond of kindness that is nothing short of reverence... all for the c ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
"I am the cat who walks alone."
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, cats, 2017
We are the cats inside. We are the cats who cannot walk alone, and for us there is only one place.

I read this one slowly because I wanted to pay attention to what I read and my, am I glad I did. This little, 94 page book, was filled with anecdotes about William Burroughs's cats and his thoughts on them. It's not written plainly or cheesily though; it's still a Burroughs book, though quite different from his other work at the same time. I recognised so much as a cat owner and rec this to any cat
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An alternative book for the cat people. Not your typical Burroughs book, although it sometimes surprises and shocks, and not a typical cat book by any stretch of the imagination. WSB's thoughts about cats, part diary of his later life with cats, his less than generous thoughts about dogs, dreams and reflections about the roles cats play in our lives. A sleek and slim volume, skittish in nature, which is easily read in one sitting, and will be re-read I am sure.
Raegan Butcher
Apr 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: cat lovers
A collection of anecdotes and observations about his various cats. It was quite interesting to see such a soft and tender loving side to William Burroughs. One can't help but feel more warm & fuzzy towards the man as a result. I am very tickled by the idea of ol' Burroughs puttering around his house in Lawrence fussing over his various felines.... its Sweet! ...more
Manuel Chavarria
People will say this is a minor work, and those people are fools. Every single one of them.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A good, quick read- about as poignant and sentimental as Burroughs will ever get.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
For once the Time magazine blurb on the front cover actually made sense to me: "Heartwarming anecdotes...Burroughs ventures galaxies away from his typically twisted literary turf".

The Cat Inside is such an unusual book but when it comes to WSB Sr. expect nothing but surprises with each book you pick up.
As Burroughs himself describes it on page 70, "this cat book is an allegory, in which the writer's past life is presented to him in a cat charade".

The faces and looks on the various cats that he
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delight! I've had this little tome on my shelf for years but for some reason never got around to reading it. Today I finally cracked it open (I've got a lovely hardcover edition featuring Brion Gysin's artwork), and read it in little more than an hour, savoring every sentence. It's been so long since I've read any Burroughs, and while it's quite different from his drug-fueled, sex filled, tripped out novels, it's every bit as delicious and a pleasure to read. He's the kind of author who r ...more
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Cat Inside has both wit and truth. Burroughs will have you laughing at his analogies of cats, humans, and dogs. The truths learned from this are sad, but well deserved to be heard. Must read for cat lovers.
Jean Deffense
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Boy did this dude had a problem with dogs.

The evolution on Burroughs relationships with his cats is really heartwarming, unfortunately i'm alergic to them, but I believe this must be extremely touching to cat owners.
M.D. Curzon
Dec 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Quite another side of Billy Burroughs!
Susan Budd
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I do not like what he said about bunny rabbits.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I decided to read this book when I saw it in my friends feed because it seemed so unexpected that the author of Naked Lunch would have written a memoir about the cats in his life. This is primarily a sweet book because Burroughs genuinely loved cats. I am also a lover of cats, so I liked this book for the most part. I particularly liked his portrayal of the Russian Blue, Ruski.

I would like to dispute what he says about dogs, however. He makes a general statement that humans train dogs to be viol
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did enjoy this book, his take on cats (familiars), stories of the cats he's known, his views on autobiography. Too short a book to give examples - they'd be spoilers. Think though he was too hard on dogs, though he professes not to be a dog hater!
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
While I know many readers that have enjoyed this book, it wasn’t for me. It is a series of essays about cats. I learned nothing new, and it raised no further questions for me. Those two things are my criteria for reading. I don’t mean to offend my fellow readers that have enjoyed this.
George K. Ilsley
A slight, spare, lean volume. Having just been on a bit of a Burroughs bender, reading Word Virus (which has excerpts from The Cat Inside) and Last Words (WSB's last journal, which included much about his cats), this book did not add very much. Mostly, I believe this volume was conceived as an art project by WSB and Brion Gysin. Burroughs' tender love for the cats in his life is touching and life-affirming.
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Having read Naked Lunch, I thought I had been sucked into an alternate universe when I saw this in the library. I don't usually grab random stuff when I'm there, but this just seemed too weird to pass. Turns out, this was pretty - blah. Not particularly moving, meditativeness wasn't that interesting, and overall pretty forgettable. Although I did enjoy Burroughs's style, which didn't make this your run-of-the-mill mushy book about cats, but kind of a dream-like journey.
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
So touching. Seems it is one of the most intimate and true autobiography books ever! Plus, it is written in a very simple form and may become a nice start for those not familiar with Burroughs books.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What is it that I enjoy in a book?

I suppose the ease with which I read it is important. It's true that a challenging read is often a good one--Grendel by John Gardner, or anything by Cormac McCarthy, for example. But sitting down and devouring a publication in one sitting is satisfying, and there's no rule that says quality has to be an uphill battle. This book was no battle. It was an hour and ten minutes on my balcony.

There's more to it than that, of course. This is the first work I've read i
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
It may be that this book is more easily enjoyed by someone familiar with Burroughs and his work, as a lot of it was confusing to me, not because of the structure but because he didn’t provide much information about his relationships with the people he discusses. I enjoyed most of it cause I like cats and weird/experimental (whatever you want to call it) books but I stopped enjoying it when I got to the 7-page rant about how much he HATES dogs (9 pages if you count the two in the middle that are ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
William S. Burroughs waxing lyrical about cats? I so wanted this to be brilliant. It isn't, in my opinion, but if you love cats it is very good and worth the read.
There are stream of consciousness musings and very personal feline accounts that at times drift towards the incomprehensible, and then suddenly Burroughs will pour forth something about cats (and life) that is poetic, inspired and worth the 3 pages before (and after) it.
If you hate cats, don't torture yourself. If you understand them
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Madison Mega-Mara...: # 85 The Cat Inside 1 4 Dec 10, 2015 03:47PM  

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William Seward Burroughs II, (also known by his pen name William Lee; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century ...more

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