Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (with full-color illustrations)” as Want to Read:
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (with full-color illustrations)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (with full-color illustrations)

by
4.07  ·  Rating details ·  23,362 ratings  ·  1,530 reviews
T. S. Eliot’s famous collection of nonsense verse about cats—the inspiration for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, now made into a major motion picture. This edition features vibrant illustrations by Axel Scheffler.

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 c
...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published October 19th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1939)
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 Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Catalina I haven't seen it. I am aware of it cause I soon as I moved to the UK I've realized ppl were going crazy after it. I've started reading the book by ch…moreI haven't seen it. I am aware of it cause I soon as I moved to the UK I've realized ppl were going crazy after it. I've started reading the book by chance, after looking at some illustrations on the British Library's website. What can I say? The poems are just delightful but then, I am a cat lover so maybe that's a factor too lol. But yea, I'd say it is definitely worth reading them :) (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Judith Norris Did get it at the library. Read it Loved it! Finished now. Returned to library.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,362 ratings  ·  1,530 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (with full-color illustrations)
Lala BooksandLala
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 5 of 30 for my 30 day reading challenge!

I don't know how to review this book. lol it was so odd.
Fergus
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A CAT’S A CAT!

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.

A Cat’s entitled to expect
These evidences of respect.
Laurel Hicks
Someone should set this to music.
Justin Tate
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
T.S. Eliot is known for masterworks of poetry like The Waste Land, but somehow also the author of this delightful collection of cat poems. The full book consists of 15 very short poems, most of which describe a distinct personality of cat. There's the cat who can never be pleased, for example, the thieving cat, the old wise cat. Each cat has a creative name which mirrors their personality.

Eliot's poems are the source material for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats which is what inspired me to pi
...more
Manny
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)
Helene Jeppesen
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're a cat-lover (as I am), then this is a must-read for you! This is a charming book written in verse, and each chapter is dedicated to a different kind of cat with its own kind of personality. This just goes to show how many personalities a cat can really have and I loved it :)
Gerhard
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You now have learned enough to see
That Cats are much like you and me


Okay, after I finished reading this classic, I decided to gird the proverbial loins and watch the Tom Hooper movie for the first time. Well aware of how awful and derisive the reviews had been, I fortified myself with a good few glasses of shiraz and my TV blanket. I mean, Vanity Fair actually ran an article entitled: ‘The Cats Catastrophe: Is Tom Hooper Going to Director’s Jail?’

Much to my surprise … I kind of liked it. The ‘je
...more
Steven Godin
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-britain, poetry
Favourites -

The Old Gumbie Cat
The Rum Tum Tugger
Mr. Mistoffelees
Gus: the Theater Cat.

THE RUM TUM TUGGER

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse,
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat—
And there isn't any call for me to shout it:
For h
...more
Alice (MTB/Alice Tied The Bookish Knot)
So I learnt something new on the first day of 2020... thanks to my Mum, I know now that this collection of fun and light-hearted poems on cats inspired the famous musical Cats. My favourite poem was the one on Macavity which was fun to read aloud and create some good rhythm to it. The rhyming for the majority of the poetry worked really well for me.
dianne
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Claire Wolff
Recommended to dianne by: Micha
Shelves: cats
Reminiscent of A.A. Milne's poetry, with fun imagery helped along by Edward Gorey's illustrations.
i tried to prolong each page, only letting myself read one cat a day.

Poor Tim, my love, i torture you
with all my silly rhymes...
He's patient, though it has to stop,
we've lived through harder times.

odd rules of friending a cat
"don't speak til spoken to"
quite unpredictable at that
this book i'm thumbing through

dear Eliot, i love your rhymes
in couplets or in sequence.
there's much i learn
each page i t
...more
Leslie
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-winner, poetry
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. ...more
Patricia Williams
I love, love, love this book. And of course I also love cats. I've read this book many times and was so amazed that someone took the poetry and made it into a Broadway play, which, of course, I also love. Amazing!
Quo
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, humor
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 on children so very young. 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 unfunny to many others.



I am reminded of Fernando Pessoa's com
...more
Petergiaquinta
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Andrew
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It always raises a smile when I finally get to read something that has had so much influence and been referenced so many times and yet I had NOT a clue about it. True I knew it was from T S Eliot and that it was written for his younger family member but beyond that it was limited to the hype around the stage show and that was about it.

However once you start digging in to it you see so many more connections. Now ironically the copy I stumbled across was connected to the stage show however for me
...more
Rebecca
I plucked this from a Faber 90th anniversary display in my local library. A number of the names and rhymes were culturally familiar for me even though I’d not read it before. Many of the poems have refrains, so it’s easy to see why they lent themselves to use in a musical (Cats). “The Naming of Cats,” the first poem and one of the best known, tells us that every cat has a secret name known only to itself, so when it seems lost in “profound meditation” (what my husband and I call being “on standb ...more
Jonfaith
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetshere
Something in my imagination has been restless. I have craved world building, esoteric codes, political machinations, something to offset the Bob Corkers of my mind. Treading along in endless bureaucracy with handymen and adjusters, I long for the Epic.

My wife and I have been rewatching every episode of Game of Thrones for the last two weeks or so. I am enjoying it much more when the narrative is compacted. I reflect on Delbruck and Braudel while listening to Tyrion.

I read a story by Scott Lync
...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Absolutely light-hearted and charming! I think I loved it so much because I could sing along to MaCavity and Rum Tum Tugger as often as I wished; I just didn't turn the page! These cats will give joy to so many for generations. All ages can smile at these rambunctious antics.
Adriana Scarpin
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
...more
Tweedledum
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
Kwoomac
This book was on my Recommendations book shelf, I hope because I'm a huge fan of Edward Gorey, not a crazy cat lady. Unfortunately for me, my library didn't have the edition that Gorey illustrated. So, I read this one. Actually, the illustrations were the only thing I enjoyed about the book. I felt like Eliot was trying too hard to be clever with the names and none of them worked for me. Cap'n Wussenfuss, now that would've been a good name but he didn't come up with that name, I did. They have n ...more
Anne ✨
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5) A cute collection of cat poetry by T.S. Elliot, and wonderful ink drawing illustrations by Edward Gorey. This book is the inspiration for the musical Cats! It's a quick read at 56 pages. I enjoyed the illustrations as much/if not more than the poems :)

My favorite poem was this one:
(excerpt)
The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you s
...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
"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.
Davie Bennett
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2012 added it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Connie G
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals, poetry
I read this years ago before I saw the musical "Cats". The book is charming and funny, and really captures the personalities of the cats. It's a wonderful little book!
Moonkiszt
T. S. Eliot. . .a funny old sort. And must have enjoyed cats a lot. . .in his writing exercises he writes of them and plays with words about and around them. For instance, "jellicle" cats - what the heck is that? They are mentioned in his 1933 poem "Five-Finger Exercises" - but they are not defined, exactly. A later poem implies that Jellicle cats are black and white, scruffy and live on the other side of the day.

Why concern myself with jellicle anything? Because of the musical CATS! which spran
...more
Paul Haspel
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, cats
Old T.S. Eliot really could do it all; he could write poetry to suit any mood or occasion. You want a hellish descent into the despair of a lonely, middle-aged man? Fine, here’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915). You want the definitive, epic setting-forth of the bleak modernist abyss, with countless literary and cultural allusions blasting at you in bits and pieces, like a radio forever set on “Seek”? Alright, here’s The Waste Land (1922). And if all you want is a series of whimsical ...more
Florence Liu
Looking at the reviews of this book, I'm slightly ashamed to say that the only reason I read this collection of poetry was because of a musical. It's not because I wanted to read more of T.S. Eliot's amazing work, it's because I watched Cats. I am an Andrew Lloyd Webber junkie. It all started when I watched The Phantom of the Opera, and things just got worse when I watched cats. That being said, Andrew Lloyd Webber is also responsible for some of the books that are on my to-read list - this bein ...more
Anwen Hayward
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I haven't read this book since I was about 7 years old and decided to recite it at our school's recitation competition. As such, my 5 star rating is entirely based on the fact that this collection of poetry was my absolute favourite thing in the world when I was a child. I even preferred it to runner beans, which I used to eat by the trough. I may not have been the most normal of children.

If I were to reread this book now, coming at it from the angle of an adult with an English degree and a gre
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Add new edition 2 23 Dec 28, 2019 11:34AM  
Play Book Tag: Old Possums Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, Ilustrated by Axel Scheffler 5 15 Feb 24, 2019 01:45PM  
Lessons learned from T.S. Eliot's Practical Cats 1 6 Dec 08, 2018 07:12AM  
Characteristics of Possums 1 6 Jun 21, 2017 12:05PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Yo soy Atl
  • Llegada la hora
  • Entre los rotos
  • Casas vacías
  • 100 Selected Poems
  • Ella es pera
  • Trei sute de ceauşeşti liliputani
  • Rímel
  • T S Eliot - Waste Land And Other Poems
  • The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen
  • Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
  • The Osbick Bird
  • The Collected Poems
  • The Gilded Bat
  • Afscheid: gedicht uit de tijd van het virus
  • The Iron Tonic: Or, A Winter Afternoon in Lonely Valley
  • Green Nation Revolution: Use Your Future to Change the World
  • Songs of Innocence and of Experience
See similar books…
3,918 followers
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

News & Interviews

There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
54 likes · 12 comments
“The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey -
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter -
But all of them sensible everyday names.
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?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
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
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”
90 likes
“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.”
55 likes
More quotes…