I’ve loved cats ever since I was a little kid. Every time I’d hear a song about a cat, or even a song that had the word “cat” in the title and evoked cat-like vibes, I’d add it to my top-hits list.
But honestly, I’m a little tired of the obvious. “What’s New, Pussycat,” “Stray Cat Strut” and “Lovecats” are on every single top-cat-song list I’ve seen. So today, I’m going to take you on a tour of cats in not-so-popular music so you can keep your love for cats in your tune list without losing your indie cred. Here are some of my favorites.
This song, from the band’s 1980 debut album, Boy, isn’t about cats at all, but the title means “a black cat” in Irish Gaelic.
Lots of us know the Cure’s “Lovecats,” but some of the band’s best music never made it to the pop charts. This song, from the 1981 album Faith, shows the melancholic, atmospheric postpunk sound that has made The Cure a favorite with goths for decades.
Bowie performed this song for the 1982 erotic horror movie Cat People, starring Nastassja Kinski and Malcolm McDowell. The film is a remake of the 1942 classic by the same name. (Don’t worry, the video is rated G, and even the movie itself is only rated R.)
This song, from the 1984 album Sparkle in the Rain, isn’t about cats at all, but the video and lyrics pretty much describe the 1980s in a nutshell: bombastic glitz and glamour disguising corruption and banality.
If you think the Dropkick Murphys were the first band to combine punk rock and traditional Irish music, you’re wrong. That honor belongs to the Pogues. This song, from the 1985 album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, refers to a limerick about two cats who fought to the death and then ate each other, leaving nothing but their tails. To this day, a Kilkenny cat is a term used to describe a tenacious fighter.
I first heard this song on A Cat-Shaped Hole In My Heart, a compilation CD put together in 1999 by Projekt Records founder Sam Rosenthal as a tribute to his beloved cat, who had died from feline leukemia. All the artists on this compilation contributed a song about their cats and donated all their royalties to the Tree House Humane Society, a no-kill cat shelter in Chicago. This song can also be found on the Changelings’ 1998 album Amphibian.
From the band’s 2001 album Vera Causa comes this tale of a woman who dreamed with her cat. When I first heard this song it sent shivers down my spine because I’d had a very similar experience with my cat Sin├®ad: I dreamed that I was in her body as she went on her own adventures. It was thrilling to know I’m not alone in having cool dreams about my cats. (This song also appears on the A Cat-Shaped Hole In My Heart compilation.)
What about you? Do you have any cat-themed favorite songs that don’t usually appear in cat-song lists? I want to hear about them, so please share your top feline tunes in the comments!
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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.