The Cat in the Hat

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: General Literature

The Cat in the Hat is a fictional cat created by Dr. Seuss. He appears in five of Seuss's rhymed children's books:

  • The Cat in the Hat
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
  • The Cat in the Hat Song Book
  • The Cat's Quizzer
  • I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!

The Cat in the Hat

In the first book in the series (The Cat in the Hat, 1957), the Cat brings a cheerful and exuberant form of chaos to the household of two young children one rainy day while their mother is out. Bringing with him Thing One and Thing Two, the Cat performs all sorts of wacky tricks to amuse the children, with mixed results. The Cat's antics are vainly opposed by the family pet, who is a sentient and articulate goldfish. The children (Sally and her older brother, who is the narrator) ultimately prove exemplary latchkey children, capturing the Things and bringing the Cat under control. He cleans up the house on his way out, disappearing seconds before the mother arrives.

The book has been popular since its publication, and a logo featuring the Cat adorns all Dr. Seuss publications and animated films produced after Cat in the Hat.

Seuss wrote the book because he felt that there should be more entertaining and fun material for beginning readers. From a literary point of view, the book is a feat of skill, since it simultaneously maintains a strict triple meter, keeps to a tiny vocabulary, and tells an entertaining tale. Literary critics occasionally write recreational essays about the work, having fun with issues such as the absence of the mother and the psychological or symbolic characterizations of Cat, Things, and Fish. This book is written in a style common to Dr. Seuss, anapestic tetrameter.

The Cat in the Hat has also been translated into Latin with the title Cattus Petasatus and into Yiddish with the title "di Kats der Payats".

The 1626 word story includes only 236 unique words of which 54 occur exactly once and 33 occur twice. The most common words, "the", "and", "i" and "not" occur more than 40 times each. The longest words are "something" and "playthings".


Dr. Seuss books were created to supplement the ' look say' reading programs taught in schools. Dr. Seuss' publisher supplied him with a sight vocabulary of 223 words which he was to use to write his books, a sight vocabulary that was in harmony with the sight words the child would be learning in school.

Dr. Seuss in an interview he gave in Arizona magazine in June 1981 claimed the book took nine months to complete due to the difficulty in writing a book from the 223 selected words. He continued to explain that the title for the book came from his desire to have the title rhyme and the first two words that he could find from the list, were 'cat' and 'hat'. Dr. Seuss also regrets the association of his book and the 'look say' reading method adopted during the Dewey revolt in the 1920's by expressing the opinion "I think killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country."

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

The Cat in the Hat made a return appearance in this 1958 sequel. On this occasion, he leaves Thing One and Thing Two at home, but does bring along Little Cat A, nested inside his hat. Little Cat A doffs his hat to reveal Little Cat B, who in turn reveals C, and so on down to the microscopic Little Cat Z, who turns out to be the key to the plot. The crisis involves a pink bathtub ring.

The book ends in a burst of flamboyant versification, with the full list of little cats arranged into a metrically-perfect rhymed quatrain. It teaches the reader the alphabet.





A book called "The Cat NOT in the Hat!" written by a fictional "Dr. Juice" was published by Penguin Books USA in 1995. The book depicted O.J. Simpson resembling the Cat in the Hat and describing his perspective on his murder trial with verses such as, "A man this famous/Never hires/Lawyers like/Jacoby Meyers/When you're accused of a killing scheme/You need to build a real Dream Team" and "One knife?/Two knife?/Red knife/Dead wife." Dr. Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel, sued Penguin Books, arguing that the work infringed the copyright to her husband's work. The court agreed and enjoined Penguin Books from distributing the book.

Freud on Seuss is a humorous short essay on the symbolism of The Cat in the Hat.


All were published by Random House.

  • The Cat in the Hat:
    • ISBN 0-394-80001-X ( hardcover, 1957, Large Type Edition)
    • ISBN 0-394-90001-4 ( library binding, 1966, Large Type Edition)
    • ISBN 0-394-89218-6 (hardcover with audio cassette, 1987)
    • ISBN 0-679-86348-6 (hardcover, 1993)
    • ISBN 0-679-89267-2 (hardcover, 1999)
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back:
    • ISBN 0-394-80002-8 (hardcover, 1958)
  • The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats introduction and annotations by Phil Nel
    • ISBN 978-037-583-369-4 (hardcover, 2007)
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