Poets Who Loved Cats

Poets who loved cats were ailurophiles. It is unsurprising that there are many poets who loved cats because there were and are many authors with the same feelings towards felines. It is wider than that; there are many artist ailurophiles; Freddie Mercury is one of the best known in the modern era.

Here is a list of poet cat lovers:

  • Mathew Arnold (1822-1888). One of his cat companions was “Atossa”, a Persian cat. In Arnold’s 1882 poem about his canary, Mattias, he describes how Atossa would sit by the canary’s cage for hours. He’d never attack the bird but never give up hope of doing so. “Cruel, but composed and bland, Dumb, inscrutable and grand, So Tiberius might have sat, had Tiberius been a cat”. His other cat was a three-legged black cat named ‘Blacky’. He liked dogs too.
  • Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) “It is easy to see why the rabble dislike cats. A cat is beautiful; it suggests ideas of luxury, cleanliness, voluptuous pleasures….”
  • William Cowper (1731-1800) “I have a kitten…the drollest of all creatures that ever wore a cat’s skin”.
  • Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-1972) Cat named Simpkin
  • T.S. Elliot (1888-1965) “With cats some say, one rule is true:/Don’t speak till you are spoken to./Myself, I do not hold with that-/I say, you should ad-dress a Cat.” His cats were: Wiscus, Pattipaws, George Pushdragon, Noilly Prat, Tantomille.
  • John Keats (1795-1821) “Gaze with those bright, languid segments green, a prick those velvet ears…”
  • Louis MacNiece (1907-1963) “A pharaoh’s profile, a Krishna’s grace, tail like a question mark”.
  • Don Marquis (1878-1937) Created the defiantly optimistic alley cat mehitabel. “I would fear greatly for the morals of mehitabel the cat if she had any”.
  • Petrarch (1304-1374) He had his cat embalmed.
  • Gabriel Rossetti (1783-1954) His cat was Zoe, a black and white female.
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) “…beautiful and swift! Sweet lover of pale night…”
  • Robert Southey (1774-1843) His cats were: Bona Marietta, The Zombie, Pulcheria, Sir Thomas Dido, Rumpel. “A kitten is in the animal world what a rosebud is in the garden”.
  • Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) “She played with her cat and it was a wonder to watch the white hand and the white paw frolic in the shade of night”.
  • Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) Her cats were: Ajax, Banjo, Goody Two Eyes, Madam Ref.
  • William Wordsworth (1770-1850) “See the kitten on the wall/Sporting with the leaves that fall… But the kitten, how she starts/Crouches, stretches, paws and darts”.
  • William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) His cat was Minnaloushe referred to in his poem The Cat and the Moon.

My thanks again to Dr Desmond Morris and his book Cat World A Feline Encyclopedia. Buy it.

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