Book Review Monday: The Cat in the Hat

cat in the hat cover2

Or: “Always Keep Your Doors Locked”

“The Cat in the Hat”
by Dr. Seuss
copyright 1957 by Dr. Seuss Enterprises
Published by Random House Children’s Books

I’ve long suspected that people who draw and animate cats neither like nor know cats. Considering that animators have traditionally been mostly dudes, and the stereotype goes that dudes don’t have cats in their homes (notice I did not write “own”), it’s not surprising that there are few animated cat movies, and when cats do appear, they tend to be sinister.

In the case of “The Cat in the Hat”, it’s clear to me that this “Suess” guy, who was certainly not a real doctor, did not live with a cat. No self-respecting cat I know would ever be this pointedly industrious in the middle of the day or would pay this much attention to humans with no promise of food in return.

Also: this book is messed up.

Right away, we meet two nameless children who are sitting mildly in chairs in front of a window because it’s raining and they can’t go outside to play. Clearly, this is not happening in America. Can’t they just switch on the damn TV? Why don’t they have any indoor toys? Had they not been invented in 1957?

On page 6, a new character is introduced by a loud BUMP: a (sorry) THE Cat in the Hat. He must be known to them already because, while their facial expressions show surprise and the resident talking fish is shocked, they know his moniker and don’t seem freaked out that a feline with questionable sartorial taste has entered without waiting to be invited. He announces that they are going to have good funny fun, clearly using some form of mind control to make them believe their “mother will not mind at all” if he shows them new tricks and games.

Well, who doesn’t want to be taught new tricks and games by an enormous cat that looks nothing like a cat, walks on his hind legs, wearing a hat he probably picked up from some beatnick in a smoky club, and who knows the children are home alone? That’s not creepy at all.

(As a side note, while I try not to judge other people’s parenting, these kids don’t look to be more than 8 years old, so what in the name of great thundering Thor are they doing home by themselves? It appears that the shocked talking fish is in charge while their mother is away, which is super awesome because we all know how good verbose cyprinids are at minding human children from their little glass bowls.)

THE Cat in the Hat is not to be trusted, and he winds up making a huge mess while showing off his funny fun. The children look horrified throughout the book, but they do nothing to make the festive feline leave the premises.

They are clearly too stupid to be left alone.

cat in the hat cover

They are like Chandler when he tried to do a nice thing for Monica by cleaning the house.

After he makes a mess, the cat fetches a big, red, wooden box to play a new game that the cat calls “Fun-in-a-box.” The children are still gaping in open-mouthed incredulity, or from abject stupidity, when out of the box pops little blue haired Things wearing red footie pajamas, which The Cat has clearly been enslaving for events such as this.

Cut to kids, still wide-eyed with stupid.

Cut to fish, still remonstrating like a stern British butler.

Suffice to say that the Things make even more of a mess, and by page 47 (this very long for a non-chapter book), Mother is coming home. Indeed, we can see her Mary-janed-shod foot out the window.

Now this is where I just don’t buy it. By page 60, their mother is coming in the door, everything is clean, all the interlopers are gone, and the kids are back sitting primly in front of the window.

How long is their front walk?


  1. Some Old Programmer says

    A nit: the girl is named (Sally), the narrator is not (this kind of thing comes up when you’re reading to boy/girl twins).

  2. machintelligence says

    If it is a realistic cartoon cat you are looking for, I highly recommend Fat Freddy’s Cat by Gilbert Shelton.

    Fat Freddy’s Cat is a fictional orange tomcat nominally belonging to Fat Freddy Freekowtski, one of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, a trio featured in Gilbert Shelton’s underground comix/