When you’re in the mood to celebrate your cat’s greatness with something moving, comedic, or lyrical, you may turn to poetry. There are many poems about cats to choose from, though, so here is a selection of beautiful, touching, and funny pieces. Included are a brief description of each poem and a link to where it can be read in full.
Whether you’re a proud cat parent or just a feline lover, you’ll enjoy these 10 poems that celebrate the elegance, independence, and enigmatic nature of our beloved feline companions.
The 10 Cat Poems Every Pet Parent Should Read
1. “The Cat and the Moon” by W.B. Yeats
“Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?”
William Butler Yeats, considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century (he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923), wrote the superb and whimsical poem, “The Cat and the Moon” which appears to be an ode to the unpredictable and almost magical nature of our feline companions. The regular rhythm found throughout the poem gives the impression that the cat Minnaloushe is dancing with the moon. This little gem has been described as a “fascinating blend of folklore and fantasy 1,” making it a must-read for all cat parents who often wonder what’s going on in the mind of their mysterious little kitty.
2. “She Sights a Bird—She Chuckles” by Emily Dickinson
“Her Jaws stir—twitching—hungry—
Her Teeth can hardly stand—
She leaps, but Robin leaped the first—
Ah, Pussy, of the Sand”
Emily Dickinson wrote the short but delightful poem, “She Sights a Bird—She Chuckles,” which describes in just a few lines a cat’s imminent attack on a poor robin. This poem effortlessly captures the enigmatic and elusive nature of cats.
3. “A Cat” by Edward Thomas
“I loathed and hated her for this;
One speckle on a thrush’s breast
Was worth a million such; and yet
She lived long, till God gave her rest.”
The British poet and writer Edward Thomas seems to despise cats—or at least that’s what his short poem, “A Cat,” suggests at first glance. But by digging into it, we can see that Thomas’s unsentimental view of cats (and nature in general) is more nuanced: The poet hates the cat because it killed the thrushes and blackbirds that he adored. At the same time, he recognizes that this cruel act of the feline reflects what humans did to the cat’s kittens, which were “duly drowned.” This is undoubtedly why he spares the life of the cat, which had a long life before “God gave her rest.”
4. “The Naming of Cats” by T.S. Eliot
“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?”
The playful piece, “The Naming of Cats,” by T.S. Eliot pays tribute to the delicate task of finding a suitable name for a cat! Indeed, Eliot’s witty verses pay homage to the distinctive personality that characterizes each of our dear feline friends and highlights the tricky task of choosing an appropriate name to match their uniqueness.
5. “Cats” by Eleanor Farjeon
They don’t care!
Eleanor Farjeon’s “Cats” is a rhythmic poem aimed at children, but it can also be seen as a tribute to the comfort and companionship that cats provide. In this lovely piece, the author reflects on the remarkable ability of cats to be able to sleep anywhere. In a heartwarming way, “Cats” is a valuable addition to any cat lover’s collection of poems.
6. “The Cat’s Song” by Marge Piercy
“You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?”
“The Cat’s Song” by Marge Piercy is an ode to the independence and assertive temperament of cats. This poem tells the story of a cat that lives life on his own terms, embracing the joys and challenges of existence. The witty feline constantly questions his owner and considers them inferior, even though he recognizes that the latter still has an important role to play in his life. This poem will surely resonate with cat owners who sometimes feel like they are nothing more than their precious feline’s butler!
7. “Cat and Mouse” by Ted Hughes
“On the sheep-cropped summit, under hot sun,
The mouse crouched, staring out the chance
It dared not take.”
In “Cat and Mouse” by Ted Hughes, the poet wants to show the inner turmoil of a mouse due to the imminent threat of a cat. The mouse hides near a “sheep-cropped summit” while cautiously searching for food. We can almost feel the fear and worry of the poor mouse that will probably not be able to escape its fate.
8. “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear
“The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.”
“The Owl and the Pussycat” is a classic poem telling an unlikely love story between a cat and an owl. This poem is arguably Edward Lear’s most famous work, describing the odd romance between the two animals and their wedding ceremony officiated by a turkey!
9. “The Black Cat” by Rainer Maria Rilke
“A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear.”
“The Black Cat” by Rainer Maria Rilke is a haunting and atmospheric piece that shows the darker nature of the cat, at once mysterious, self-centered, and disturbing. It is a poem that invites readers to contemplate the deeper, more elusive aspects of feline nature: “As if awakened, she turns her face to yours; and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny.”
10. “A Cat’s Prayer” by Unknown
“I ask for the privilege of not being born
not to be born until you can assure me of a home and a master to protect me, and the right to live as long as I am physically able to enjoy life
not to be born until my body is precious and men have ceased to exploit it because it is cheap and plentiful.”
The last piece on our list, “A Cat’s Prayer,” is heart-wrenching, but it conveys a powerful message about the importance of a cat’s life. Although the author of this poem remains unknown, their evocative verses will resonate in the hearts of every cat parent!
We hope that you’ve enjoyed browsing this list of poems about cats and that you have recognized the amazing talent of these poets, who manage to capture in just a few verses all the grace, mystery, sensitivity, and even the darker aspects of our dear feline companions. Now, we’re curious: What cat-themed piece would you add to this list?
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock
- The 10 Cat Poems Every Pet Parent Should Read
- 1. “The Cat and the Moon” by W.B. Yeats
- 2. “She Sights a Bird—She Chuckles” by Emily Dickinson
- 3. “A Cat” by Edward Thomas
- 4. “The Naming of Cats” by T.S. Eliot
- 5. “Cats” by Eleanor Farjeon
- 6. “The Cat’s Song” by Marge Piercy
- 7. “Cat and Mouse” by Ted Hughes
- 8. “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear
- 9. “The Black Cat” by Rainer Maria Rilke
- 10. “A Cat’s Prayer” by Unknown