Songs About Cats (or are They?)

Larry Chamberlain asked:

Perhaps the most famous Cat Song is The Siamese Cat Song recorded by Peggy Lee. The song is from the Walt Disney 1955 classic “The Lady and The Tramp”, an animated film about a classy Cocker Spaniel named Lady who falls for Tramp a scamp of a mongrel. The song however is about two arrogant cats, Si and Am, who have given Siamese cats a bad name ever since.

The Siamese Cat Song was penned by Lee along with Sonny Burke and over the years has also been recorded by Freddie and The Dreamers, Mitch Miller, Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin, Haylie Duff, and Bobby McFerrin. “We are Siamese if you please, We are Siamese if you don’t please.”

Both The Turtles and Petula Clark stepped into recording studios to make very different versions of The Cat in the Window, a song that compares a cat trying to get out of a window with the singer wanting to fly away. “There’s a cat in the window, and he’s watching all the birds go passing by, he’d love to fly out the window, go where the wind goes, and so would I.”

Who can forget the Muppets recording of The Cat Came Back, a song about a kitty that just kept finding its way back no matter how far it was taken from home. “But the cat came back, she wouldn’t stay away, she was sitting on the porch the very next day.”

In 1950 folks were flooding into record stores and asking for I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat. Mel Blanc recorded the song, written by Alan Livingston, Billy May and Warren Foster, about the cartoon cat and canary duo Sylvester and Tweety. “I tawt I taw a puddy tat a creeping up on me, I did I taw a puddy tat as plain as he could be.”

The Rooftop Singers followed up their 1963 number one hit Walk Right In, with Tom Cat a ditty about ‘Ringtail Tom’ who liked to go “strutting round the town” “And when he steps out all the other cats in the neighborhood they begin to shout.” Fast forward to 1981 and the Stray Cats record a musically different song but with a very similar theme, the rockabilly Stray Cat Strut. “Stray cat strut, I’m a ladies’ cat, a feline Casanova, hey man, that’s where it’s at, get a shoe thrown at me from a mean old man, get my dinner from a garbage can.”

Norma Tanega apparently owned a cat that she named ‘Dog’ and liked to take that

cat for walks, hence her 1966 hit Walking My Cat Named Dog, which does seem to be about her real life experience of strolling around town with her pet feline.

Most songs though that include the word Cat in the tile, are not truly about cats at all. A great example is the fine song, Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. No cats make an appearance in this song; instead the lyrics contain a very chilling message that every dad should pay heed too.

Bent Fabric, real name Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, had a hit in 1962 with Alley Cat, but this was an instrumental recording so it’s not a song about cats. Instrumental too was Aaron Copeland’s The Cat and the Mouse.

Cat People (Putting Out Fire) by David Bowie was recorded for the 1982 remake of the film Cat People. Great dark and menacing feel to the song but the words have no relationship to cats.

The cat in The Cat Crept In, recorded by Mud was actually a girl, as was the cat featured in The Rolling Stones’ Stray Cat Blues, this one with exceedingly sharp claws.

They Call Her the Cat, by Elton John is about, well it’s not about cats! Neither is Honky Cat, another Elton tune, that one is about a country boy moving to live life in the city.

Three Cool Cats, is a song that was first recorded by the Coasters in 1958 and covered by The Beatles in 1962 (but not released until 1995.) Of course this song is not about cats, but about three teenage boys and three teenage girls. The Beatles also recorded Little Willie John’s Leave My Kitten Alone, no surprise to find that the song is not about a kitten.

U2 recorded a song titled An Cat Dubh, which apparently means The Black Cat in Gaelic, no cat in the song though, black or otherwise.

No cats are in Year of the Cat by Al Stewart, Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent, The Lovecats by The Cure or in Cool for Cats by Squeeze. Who can say what The Cat’s In the Well by Bob Dylan is about?

There must be countless other songs that have the words Cat, or Cats, in the title but are not actually about our feline friends. No doubt there are more songs that are about cats than those listed on this page, but those songs sadly seem few and far between.

But wait . . . wasn’t there a stage musical all about cats. Cats, the musical by

Andrew Lloyd Webber, was first shown in London, England in 1981. Based upon T.

S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats the show features song after song about . . . Old Gumbie, Grizabella, Mungojerrie And Rumpelteazer, Skimbleshanks, Old Deuteronomy, Gus, Macavity, and Mr. Mistoffelees. All of these characters are, of course, . . . Cats.

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