Where the Wild Things Are: The Cats of Maurice Sendak


The late illustrator Maurice Sendak is most fondly remembered for his endearingly monstrous Where The Wild Things Are characters. Handily, that book celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and an exhibition at the Society of Illustrators in New York City rounds up some of Sendak’s lesser-seen work.

When I visited the exhibition last week, I was surprised to find out that Sendak’s illustrations are peppered with cats. Here are some of the most eye-catching examples of felines sneaking their way into his imagination. Enjoy!

An unused drawing from Where The Wild Things Are. Titled Max Eating Spaghetti, the illustration features the book’s hero and a greedy canine feasting on pasta while a sleek, carb-conscious black cat looks on disapprovingly. As he should.

A pen and ink and watercolor sample from Very Far Away, showing the book’s protagonist, Martin, “listening to his friends’ stories.” The orange pal with the fine posture seems to be taking a skeptical view of the chatty sparrow’s tall story.

Sketched in 1961, this is an alternate design for a collection of decorative capital letters considered for use in Clemens Brentano’s The Tale of Gockel, Hinkel and Gackelia. Consider it a particularly feisty feline-adorned letter T.

One of Maurice Sendak’s commercial commissions (for American Express) showcases a klutzy character knocking over what’s presumably an antique vase. A couple of orange cats seem to find the mishap all so very amusing.

Long-time subscribers to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Magazine will recognize this wrap-around cover from a 1969 issue. A smug-looking grey kitty nestling in the bottom left corner fulfills the feline quota.

Produced for a cover of The Horn Book Magazine, this illustration depicts the British artist Randolph Caldecott holding court with Moishe from Where The Wild Things Are and a cat playing a fiddle. Formal dress is in order, as you’d expect for such an occasion.

Originally included in Nick Jr. Magazine, this full-page 2002 illustration accompanies Little Bear’s New Friend by Else Minarik. The distinguished all-white cat is involved in some clear tickling instigation.

Scenes from a storyboard for the 1974 animated TV project Really Rosie include a classic dog-and-cat chase scene. Later on the mayhem includes the cat nattily jumping through a paper shopping bag in a bid to confuse the annoying mutt. Standard behavior when being pursued.

Read about more cats and art:

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.

Let Catster answer all of your most baffling feline questions!

Starting at just


Follow Us

Shopping Cart