The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 4, 2016

August 4, 1792

Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792 to July 8, 1822) may have written his first poem, about a cat. According to the Cat Museum of San Francisco, the text was found among documents saved by his sister. From "Verses on a Cat", we quote:

A cat in distress,
Nothing more, nor less;
Good folks, I must faithfully tell ye,
As I am a sinner,
It waits for some dinner
To stuff out its own little belly.

You would not easily guess
All the modes of distress
Which torture the tenants of earth;
And the various evils,
Which like so many devils,
Attend the poor souls from their birth.

Some a living require,
And others desire
An old fellow out of the way;
And which is the best
I leave to be guessed,
For I cannot pretend to say.

One wants society,
Another variety,
Others a tranquil life;
Some want food.
Others, as good,
Only want a wife.

But this poor little cat
Only wanted a rat,


The only interest in these verses, is their status as juvenilia, and the glimpse they give of an interest in the ills of society. But it is hard not to suspect that the Romantics simply did not find cats inspiring. Byron had them, in his menageries but they are not subjects. Wordsworth wrote badly when he picked the topic of kittens.

Other ills Shelley detected at an early age were Christianity and Aristotle.  This may sound prescient, but his concerns were those of his era.

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