Poem Sampler

Cat Poems

Our feline friends reveal a sensory, and even spiritual, world beyond the human.

by The Editors
Cat Poems

What the Cat Knows

 “February” by Margaret Atwood

                        Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.

A Little Language” by Robert Duncan

I know a little language of my cat, though Dante says 
that animals have no need of speech and Nature 
abhors the superfluous.   My cat is fluent. 

The Cats Will Know” by Cesare Pavese

You will smile alone.
The cats will know.

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.

Cat, Failing” by Robin Robertson

cowed, denatured, ceasing to be
anything like a cat,
and there’s a new look
in those eyes

Superstition” by Marin Sorescu

My cat washes
with her left paw,
there will be another war.


Humans are Animals Too

 “The Perfect Mother” by Susan Griffin

The perfect mother lets the cat
sleep on her head.

 “The Orange Cat” by Alicia Ostriker

               The cat who is not hungry
               Can listen in repose

 “Cat and Mouse” by Ted Hughes

                                 Whether to two
Feet or four, how are prayers contracted!
Whether in God’s eye or the eye of a cat.

 “Adam Waking” by Katie Peterson

The brief interruption of who I am
interrupts and punctuates the day

Ella Mason and Her Eleven Cats” by Sylvia Plath

                       “Something’s addled in a woman who accommodates
That many cats.”

The Same Old Jazz” by Philip Whalen

And it all snaps into focus
The world inside my head & the cat outside the window
A one-to-one relationship


Mischief & Mayhem in Nine Lives

 “Finding the Cat in a Spring Field at Midnight” by Pattiann Rogers

        Haunches of the weeds and starry grasses
        Threading through the eyes of the mouse

 fromJubilate Agno” by Christopher Smart

For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.

Magnificat. Brave Cat at Snifter Fishbowl” by George Starbuck

                             and you arrive
up to your ears in a handstand on one claw

Another Insane Devotion” by Gerald Stern

                        I think I gave the cat
half of my sandwich to buy my life, I think
I broke it in half as a decent sacrifice.

Muier” by William Carlos Williams

            and you return to us
in this condition —!


Cat Poems for Kids

Little Robin Redbreast” by Anonymous

Little Robin Redbreast
    Sat upon a tree;
Up went Pussy-cat,
    Down went he.

Quick! quick!” by Anonymous

Quick!   quick!
    The cat's been sick.

The Three Little Kittens, They Lost Their Mittens” by Mother Goose

“What!   Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.”

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat” by Edward Lear

                        The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.



Perdita: Why Cats Are Better Than People” by Michael Robbins

She is afraid of vacuum cleaners and tornado sirens. She lies on her back in squares of sunshine with her paws in the air and looks perfectly ridiculous and content. My friend Kristen tells her cat Mouse each morning that he’s her best friend, which is the sort of behavior that makes non-cat-people roll their eyes. But there’s something to it. Perdita and I don’t discuss novels or anything, but we really are friends.


Originally Published: February 13, 2013


On April 5, 2013 at 12:22pm Daniel Klawitter wrote:
Love it! While some poets have written great verse about dogs (Mark Doty's superb "Golden Retrievals" springs to mind), I think cats have historically shared a closer relationship to poetry.

Here's mine, originally published in the Cat Protection magazine (poetry and prose online section) in the U.K.

What All Cats Know

Dogs are prose, and prone to please.

Mice are good for eating.

When moonlight splinters through the trees,

We watch humans while they’re sleeping.

Disobedience is heroic.

It’s wrong to persecute witches.

Hell is a world with no poets---

And heaven a charm of finches.

---Daniel Klawitter---

On November 4, 2013 at 11:30am David J. Rothman wrote:
Nice work, Daniel....!

On December 13, 2014 at 12:03pm Ella wrote:
You need better poems that rime

On February 22, 2015 at 2:37pm Eric Spears wrote:
I love al of these poems. Good cat poems can only come from those
who have lived in the odd world of cats.

I wrote Here's a silly little cat haiku for you:

I am a big cat

I like to eat little cats

I’m a catibal
I posted a couple more cat friendly cat poems of mine here:


Poetryfoundation.org welcomes comments that foster dialogue and cultivate an open community on the site. Comments on articles must be approved by the site moderators before they appear on the site. By submitting a comment, you give the Poetry Foundation the right to publish it. Please note: We require comments to include a name and e-mail address. Read more about our privacy policy.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.