My child LOVED cats when he was little. Unfortunately for him, his father and I would never, ever get a cat. Luckily, his grandma has usually had cats, and his parents never minded reading books about cats. So here’s a list of the children’s books about cats that we liked the most. Enjoy! (Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links.)
My picture book posts were originally published and then occasionally expanded between 2012-2015, with reviews based on reading with my kiddo between preschool age and about eight years old. As of 2023-24, I’m freshening up my lists and adding more recs.
Cat is Sleepy (1996) by Satoshi Kitamura
If you have ever seen a sleepier cat than this without a sedative being involved, I will give you $10. This was the first Satoshi Kitamura book we fell in love with, due to his amazingly expressive cartoons. We have this in board book format for little bitty kids, but if Boy Detective wanted to get rid of it, I’d put it in my own library, and I’d give it to cat-loving adults as a gift. It’s so cute! Good pick-me-up.
New Cat (1999) by Yangsook Choi
This book didn’t grab me immediately, but then I kept noticing it on the library shelf and it found its way into my bag. Like it was trying to get my attention…? Whatever was going on, it worked. This is a great slow down and pay attention book. Mr. Kim’s cat lives at his tofu factory, and she really wants to get that pesky mouse! The relationship between cat and human in this one is so sweet.
Excuse Me, Are You a Witch? (2004) by Emily Horn, illustrated by Pawel Pawlak
Boy Detective always liked cats and libraries as much as Halloween, so this book about a lonely bookworm cat looking for a home was perfect for him. The art cleverly supports the poor cat’s mistaken identifications of various townsfolk as witches. And of course, when it seems like all hope may be lost, there’s a happy ending.
Boris and the Snoozebox (2008) by Leigh Hodgkinson
What I love about Leigh Hodgkinson: Her sweet, sly, and quirky sense of humor. Her stellar typography skills. Her ability to use just enough words to tell a story. In this case, the story of Boris the cat. He’s soooo sleepy, and finds the perfect place for a nap… until the box gets shipped around the world to all kinds of folks who do NOT want a cat. Will Boris ever find that perfect snoozing spot? (Spoiler: yes, because it’s a children’s picture book.)
The art is collage and cartoons, wildly eccentric and lots of fun. It’s possibly one of my personal faves of all children’s picture books.
But Who Will Bell the Cats? (2009) by Cynthia von Buhler
This is a gorgeous retelling of an Aesop fable. von Buhler and her father built a small set in which to place her characters, which are essentially paper dolls. Then all the art was photographed. You really have to see this book, it’s so distinctive, and the cats are wonderful parodies of spoiled rich children.
Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats (2015) by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Birgitta Sif
It’s so satisfying when a “lesson” book also works as a good story. This interesting book about a place where scaredy-cats learn to be bold and save their teacher is also tale of acceptance, healing, bravery, and personal growth. Cats are dropped off at Miss Hazeltine’s by people who call them all kinds of mean things: “Hopeless!” “Worthless!” The cats may have been shy and fearful to begin with, this rejection and judgment surely didn’t help them! Instead Miss Hazeltine meets every cat where they are. Even Crumb, who can’t even come out from under the bed. Miss Hazeltine’s unconditional love and acceptance is what ultimately saves her when she gets in trouble, because the cats she’s been healing are able to go beyond their fears on her behalf.
It’s both sweet and extremely powerful, without feeling heavy-handed. Kudos to Potter for blending meaning and plot so well. Any cat lover will eat up Sif’s illustrations. No two cats are the same, I guarantee. Her balance of full-page spreads with individual illustrations gives the book a feeling of openness and movement that works really well with the progress of the story.
And here are the books I’ve read on my own since my kiddo got too old for them; they’re all fantastic! I haven’t had a chance to write reviews or pull the covers yet, but click on through and see if one of them might be perfect for you.
- The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street (2013) by Ann Redisch Stampler, illustrated by Francesca Carabelli (Jewish representation)
- The Catawampus Cat (2017) by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by Gus Gordon
- How To Give Your Cat A Bath in Five Easy Steps (2019) by Nicola Winstanley, illustrated by John Martz (BIPOC representation)
- Bathe The Cat (2021) by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by David Roberts (BIPOC representation)
- This Story Is Not About A Kitten (2022) by Randall de Sève, illustrated by Carson Ellis (BIPOC representation)
And that’s the list!