Cats and Kittens in Children's Stories and Books
Cats Are THAT Interesting?
What Is Your Favorite Cat Story?
Cat Stories Are Close to the Heart of a Cat Lover
Kitty-love is sweeping the internet these days. Whether you have a cat or not and whether you love them or they just make you sneeze, you can engage your young readers with a book about cats and kittens and easily bring a smile to their faces.
A good cat story has all the elements of any good story: plot, characters, setting, intrigue, excitement, drama! This is the kind of cat story you will love to tell and to which your audience will love to listen, whether that audience fills an auditorium or is one little person on your knee.
Cats can be described in as many ways as there are cats. They are independent and sometimes quirky. Cats can be lazy or a bundle of energy. One thing is certain: kitties are soft to the touch and many people love them to distraction. As characters in stories, cats are often humorous, maybe because they are like someone we know.
But kitties are not all just balls of fluff. In many homes they serve a purpose, too. Without cats, many houses would be overrun with mice and other rodents. This function of keeping down the rodent population translates into story characters that are sly and tricky. Cats are often portrayed over against the mice that must outwit them in order to survive.
This hub will explore some of these cat characters, these cool cats that show up in the oddest places.
Three Little Kittens
A Cat Story to Learn by Heart
The Three Little Kittens is a children's story that has been told and retold in many families. Several children I have known memorized the words themselves, yet still asked Mom or Dad to tell it again and again. There's something about the rhythm and repetition that appeals to kids. And of course, everyone can chime in for the "Meow, meow, meow!" part.
The Three Little Kittens is a cat story for the very young. There are many excellent versions of this story, but the one by Jerry Pinkney is the one I would choose to read to my little ones.
Jerry Pinkney's illustrations of this classic children's tale are really adorable! Your preschooler will love the cuddly kitten characters who make a mess but also clean up under Mama Cat's watchful eye. Children will identify with the kittens and will enjoy imitating their Meow refrain.
Dick King-Smith's Felines
Dick King-Smith has written many kids books with animal characters. His tales are hilarious and so much fun to read aloud. I have enjoyed many books by this author, which is why when I decided to write this hub about cat stories, I had to include one of his books.
Martin is a little kitten that wants to keep mice as pets! Martin cannot understand why the mice he loves and feeds and protects keep trying to escape. Later he learns the meaning of freedom when he himself is kept cooped up in an apartment. When he returns to his farm origins, he does so with a new appreciation for freedom.
In addition to the above book, Martin's Mice, Dick King-Smith has also written another book that includes cats, though they are not such attractive characters. In fact, these cats are the butt of the mice's torments. Three Terrible Trins is a story about triplet mice who try to rid their home of the pesky cats that terrorize their community.
Obviously, the mice are victorious!
Cat Stories by James Herriot
James Herriot's tales of a country veterinarian have warmed the hearts of millions. Here are two stories published as picture books that you may enjoy.
The Christmas Day Kitten - by James Herriot
Ruth Brown's illustration of one of James Herriot's beloved stories of being a veterinarian in the Yorkshire countryside makes for a heartwarming story for children and adults alike. This story revolves around Mrs. Pickering, a lonely older woman who befriends a stray cat. As Mrs. Pickering's hearth is the only safe place the cat has known, she returns there with her kitten on Christmas Day as she herself is dying.
Warm, loving illustrations by Ruth Brown accompany the text. A lovely book for a cat lover you know.
Moses the Kitten
Moses the Kittenis another story in the series by James Herriot and illustrated by Ruth Brown. Moses is a tiny bedraggled kitten that is found abandoned and half drowned and is nursed back to health on a nearby farm. He finds a home with the sow who takes a liking to him. Nice story with beautiful illustrations.
A Blue-Eyed Feline
The Cat in the Hat -- Only Dr. Seuss Can Think These Characters Up!
Silliness upon silliness -- that's what Dr. Seuss serves up to his young readers. The Cat in the Hat is one of his earliest tales full of rhymes and nonsense.
There are finger puppets available that you can use to help you keep a young one interested in the story and to reenact it after the book is closed. These silly puppets may entice your child to open the book again and again. Think of how much fun you could have with these finger puppets!
The Owl and the Pussycat - Words by Edward Lear
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - by T. S. Elliot
So many of us loved the musical "Cats" based on T.S. Elliot's popular poems. But even a reading of the themselves -- without the music and the costumes -- are a source of delight! Cat lovers both young and old will enjoy the rhythm of these poems about the different personalities of cats. poems
Here are a couple of readings of Elliot's poems, followed by songs from the Broadway production. Give them a listen and see if you agree that they are really fun.
The same poem as interpreted from the stage. Preview if you have little ones watching -- just my suggestion, parents!
Another Broadway rendition of an Elliot poem.
For railroad fans.
Socks - by Beverly Cleary
Poor Socks! He has been the focus of his human family for as long as he can remember. Suddenly Socks' world is shattered when a new baby arrives to the household. Now the woman and the man seem to care more about the new baby than they do about him. Socks starts to get into all kinds of trouble, such as wrestling with Auntie's wig.
Then comes the day when baby Christopher is old enough to become a playmate. Socks finally realizes that a new baby is not so threatening after all and can really make life even more fun!
This would be a fun read for any child, but especially one who is a new brother or sister and who feels the stress that such a new role in the family produces.
Reading about a pet going through "sibling rivalry" (or the pet equivalent of that emotion) would be an indirect way of focusing on the feelings without the pressure of a direct correlation that may or may not be the same as the child's own feelings. Having a cat express the mixture of emotions also adds a bit of humor to the situation.
Pete the Cat by James Dean
Some of my young friends are big fans of Pete the Cat, so I've added this book to my recommendations. He's a new cat to me, but he's a big hit among the 2 to 6 year olds I know. There are dozens of books in the series related to themes such as shoes, going to the beach, seasons of the year and holidays, etc. The book I've linked to here is based upon the tortoise and the hare story of a race, this time between Pete and a turtle. In his quirky way, Pete discovers that the joy of a race is not winning, but in having as "groovy" of a time as one can along the way. Pete the Cat
Two Pusses in Boots
Puss in Boots
In some ways, this story is on the strange side, even for a cat tale. A few years ago, a movie came out starring the character of Puss in Boots, but don't confuse the movie with the book, as they are totally different.
The original Puss in Boots character comes from a 17th century European fairy tale of a trickster cat who deceives a king and an ogre to gain wealth, power, and the hand of the princess for his poor master.
The DreamWorks animated movie was made by the same people responsible for Shrek and is a prequel to the Shrek movies where Puss in Boots makes an appearance. The plot is totally different from the fairy tale and involves Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, and magical beans.
Here is a List of Cat Stories on the Web - Is Your Cat Similar to One of These Furballs?
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You - by The Oatmeal
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You
If you enjoy a good laugh -- and who doesn't? -- you may appreciate the book of cat humor written by the internet cartoonist Matt Inman, creator of The Oatmeal. Filled with satire about life with our feline friends, these cartoons will get you looking over your shoulder.
© 2010 Sheilamarie