Here, Kitty, Kitty… 20+ Children’s Books That Are the Cat’s Meow
by Laura Lambert
It’s been years since I’ve had a cat in the house, but don’t let that fool you — I’m a cat lady, through and through. Since age five, I’ve been blessed with kittens that I’ve chosen by hand, strays that adopted me, and a handful of other feline friends I cohabitated with, to varying degrees of affection and success. The cats I’ve loved have been impudent, sneaky, defiant, cuddly, frisky, fierce, lazy, and sometimes downright bad — but I’ve loved them all the same. And since so many others — and so many authors — feel similarly, there’s a whole host of books built around the feline species for us and our kids to enjoy.
For the budding feline-o-files in your life, here are some children’s books that are, dare I say, catastic.
From naps and yawns to chasing string and sharpening claws, readers will experience a day in the life of a boy and his pet cat. With bouncy rhyme and energetic illustrations, this charming slice-of-life story is a must-read for any cat-loving child.
Adopting a pet is a stressful event for the animal and its new family. Often, there’s an adjustment period where everyone gets used to one another. In this humorous depiction of pet adoption, a young boy refuses to give up on his non-responsive cat. But it isn’t until he reads aloud to his new friend that they start to bond.
You can never have too many books about cats who love reading, and Rectangle Time is a heartwarming story that kids will love. It follows a young boy as he learns to read with the help of his feline friend. As the boy grows up, his reading habits (and the cat’s role in them) change. This sweet story is perfect for cat lovers and reading enthusiasts alike.
Publisher’s Weekly describes Cookie’s Week as “six days of feline mischief.” The simple, repetitive text makes the story of one week in the life of Cookie the intrepid kitten a well-loved classic.
Ralph and Niblet
Featuring some of the coolest cats you'll ever meet, two feline friends decide to visit each other simultaneously. Kids will adore this sweet and zany story about an unplanned cat exchange.
The Cat in the Hat
There is perhaps no cat more famous in the world of children’s books than the Cat in the Hat. Start them young with The Cat in the Hat Great Big Flap Book, which helps teach concepts like numbers, letters and colors, and progress to the beloved original, The Cat in the Hat and its successor, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.
Diehard fans might also dig into Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat a picture-book story of the making of The Cat in the Hat, by Judy Sierra.
Follow a little cat on a journey through the stunning artwork of one of the most famous artists in history. As Claude Monet chases the cat in and out of his art, readers will explore the paintings, learn about the artist, and appreciate his work.
Fern and Otto
Fairy tale lovers, this book is for you! Otto and her friend Fern go looking for a story in the woods. They find many exciting things, including a menacing wolf, an exciting race, and a witch. But none of the stories they find are quite what they want. With Stephanie Graegin’s charming illustrations, this adorable fairy tale mashup will quickly become a storytime favorite.
Be prepared to laugh out loud when you read this hilarious picture book from the creators of Penguin Problems and Giraffe Problems. This side-splitting story captures all the complaints indoor cats have, from sunny patches that disappear to dreaded vacuum monsters.
Skippyjon Jones Series
Inspired by her own beloved Siamese cat, named Skippy, author Judy Schachner created Skippyjon Jones, the Siamese kitten with big ears who believes he is a Chihuahua. The roguish rhymes are utterly addictive.
My name is Skippito Friskito.
I fear not a single bandito.
My manners are mellow,
I'm sweet like the Jell-O,
I get the job done, yes indeed-o.
Her other books, Bits and Pieces and The Grannyman, also feature los gatitos.
100 Cats: Cute Kitties to Count
Help your child master the skill of counting to 100 with these silly, sweet, and utterly adorable cats. Whether they’re napping in the sun, chasing toys, or hiding, the cats in this book burst with personality. Young cat lovers will happily count the kittens on every page.
Millions of Cats
Winner of the Newbery Honor, Millions of Cats was also inducted into the Picture Book Hall of Fame. It’s the story of an elderly man who sets out to find a cat to keep him and his wife company — and manages to bring home millions of them.
Stretchy and Beanie
From the creator of Skippyjon Jones comes another charming picture book series about an orange street cat. Join Stretchy McHandsome on his second adventure as he and his new owner, Beanie, figure out their friendship. Beanie wants Stretchy to behave like a proper pet, and as we all know, cats dislike getting bossed around. Cat lovers will adore this charming story about negotiating a friendship and establishing boundaries.
You’ve never seen a primer on friendship quite like this one. It’s illustrated with cute and cuddly cat paws and shows readers what it means to be a friend. From taking selfies to rocking out together, this delightful picture book celebrates the best parts of friendship.
The Cat from Hunger Mountain
A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2016, The Cat from Hunger Mountain is by Ed Young, who also illustrated the gorgeous 2008 picture book Wabi Sabi, which also features a cat. This is the fable of a decadent cat lord who has everything, until he has nothing — and the lessons he learns as a result.
Lost and Found Cat
Based on a true story, this of-the-moment picture book is about a lost cat, Kunkush, but also the plight of Iraqi refugees trying to cross into Greece.
This is the story of three mysterious stray kittens, and a band of feral cats, who rise up to save the woods they call home.
There Are No Bears in This Bakery
Children who love mysteries and humor will adore this feline detective story. When Muffin the cat hears growling in his bakery, he investigates and finds a little bear with a rumbling tummy. After satisfying the bear’s hunger, Muffin gets quite the surprise when a second, much larger bear shows up. This picture book is an excellent choice to read aloud for storytime!
Introduce your new reader to Flubby, a hilariously stubborn cat that refuses to do anything his owner wants. With four funny books in this graphic novel style series, growing readers will have no trouble getting in their 20 minutes of reading time every day.
The Cat Man of Aleppo
When a war breaks out in Syria, Alaa stays in his beloved city of Aleppo to continue working as an ambulance driver. He notices many abandoned cats in need of care and starts a sanctuary to help them. Eventually, his efforts expanded to include other animals and children, too. Based on actual events, this Caldecott Honor-winning book will tug on your heartstrings and restore your faith in humanity.
Andy and the Lion
Every big cat lover should read this Caldecott Honor-winning classic. Initially published in 1938, the story centers on Andy, who comes across an injured circus lion. The boy and the cat develop an unlikely friendship and embark on an outlandish adventure together. With its expressive illustrations, this story celebrates friendship, imagination, and the love of reading.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2022.