The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat  
Author(s) Dr. Seuss
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Children's literature
Publisher Random House
Publication date March 12, 1957 (renewed 1985)
Media type Print (Hardcover and paperback)
Pages 61
ISBN 978-0717260591
OCLC Number 304833
Followed by The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

The Cat in the Hat is a children's book by Dr. Seuss and perhaps the most famous, featuring a tall, anthropomorphic, mischievous cat, wearing a tall, red and white-striped hat and a red bow tie. He also carries a pale blue umbrella. With the series of Beginner Books that The Cat inaugurated, Seuss promoted both his name and the cause of elementary literacy in the United States of America.[1] The eponymous cat appears in six of Seuss's rhymed children's books:



A 2003 White House Christmas decoration using "The Cat in the Hat" as the theme.

Theodor Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, created The Cat in the Hat in response to the May 25, 1954, Life magazine article by John Hersey, titled "Why Do Students Bog Down on First R? A Local Committee Sheds Light on a National Problem: Reading." In the article, Hersey was critical of school primers:

In the classroom boys and girls are confronted with six books that have insipid illustrations depicting the slicked-up lives of other children. [Existing primers] feature abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls. . . . In bookstores, anyone can buy brighter, livelier books featuring strange and wonderful animals and children who behave naturally, i.e., sometimes misbehave. Given incentive from school boards, publishers could do as well with primers.

Hersey’s arguments were enumerated over ten pages of Life magazine, which was a leading periodical in the U.S. during that time. After detailing many issues contributing to the dilemma connected with student reading levels, Hersey asked toward the end of the article:

Why should [school primers] not have pictures that widen rather than narrow the associative richness the children give to the words they illustrate — drawings like those of the wonderfully imaginative geniuses among children’s illustrators, Tenniel, Howard Pyle, "Theodor S. Geisel".

Ted Geisel's friend William Ellsworth Spaulding, who was then the director of Houghton Mifflin's education division, invited Geisel to dinner in Boston and "proposed that Ted write and illustrate such a book for six- and seven-year olds who had already mastered the basic mechanics of reading. 'Write me a story that first-graders can't put down!" [Spaulding] challenged."[2] Spaulding supplied Geisel with a list of 348 words that every six year old should know, and insisted that the book's vocabulary be limited to 225 words. Nine months later Dr. Seuss finished The Cat In The Hat, which used 223 words that appeared on the list plus 13 words that did not. Because Geisel was under contract with Random House, Houghton Mifflin retained the school rights to The Cat in the Hat and Random House retained the rights to trade sales.[2]

The story is 1629 words in length and uses a vocabulary of only 236 distinct words, of which 54 occur once and 33 twice. Only a single word – another – has three syllables, while 14 have two and the remaining 221 are monosyllabic. The longest words are something and playthings.

In an interview he gave in Arizona magazine in June 1981, Dr. Seuss claimed the book took nine months to complete due to the difficulty in writing a book from the 223 selected words. He added that the title for the book came from his desire to have the title rhyme and the first two suitable rhyming words that he could find from the list were "cat" and "hat". Dr. Seuss also regretted the association of his book and the "look say" reading method adopted during the Dewey revolt in the 1920s. He expressed the opinion that "... killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country."[citation needed]


The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat (1957) is the first book featuring the title character. In it the Cat brings a cheerful, exotic and exuberant form of chaos to a household of two young kids, brother and sister, one rainy day while their mother leaves them unattended. The Cat performs all sorts of wacky tricks—the Cat at one point balances a teacup, some milk, a cake, three books, the Fish, a rake, a toy boat, a toy man, a red fan, and his umbrella while he's on a ball to the chagrin of the fish—to amuse the children, with mixed results. Then, the Cat gets a box from outside. Inside the box are two creatures named Thing One and Thing Two, who begin to fly kites in the house. The Cat's antics are vainly opposed by the family pet, a sapient and articulate fish. The children (Sally and her unnamed older brother, who serves as the narrator) ultimately prove exemplary latchkey children, capturing the Things with a net and bringing the Cat under control. To make up for the chaos he has caused, he cleans up the house on his way out, disappearing a second before the mother arrives. The book has been popular since its publication, and a logo featuring the Cat adorns all Dr. Seuss publications and animated films produced after The Cat in the Hat. Seuss wrote the book because he felt that there should be more entertaining and fun material for beginning readers. From a literary point of view, the book is a feat of skill, since it simultaneously maintains a strict triple meter, keeps to a tiny vocabulary, and tells an entertaining tale. Literary critics occasionally write recreational essays about the work, having fun with issues such as the absence of the mother and the psychological or symbolic characterizations of Cat, Things, and Fish. This book is written in a style common to Dr. Seuss, anapestic tetrameter (see Dr. Seuss's meters).

More than 11 million copies of The Cat in the Hat have been printed. It has been translated into more than 12 different languages.[3][4] In particular, it has been translated into Latin with the title Cattus Petasatus and into Yiddish with the title "di Kats der Payats".

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

The Cat in the Hat made a return appearance in this 1958 sequel. On this occasion, instead of Thing One and Thing Two, he brings along Little Cat A, nested inside his hat. Little Cat A doffs his hat to reveal Little Cat B, who reveals C, and so on down to the microscopic Little Cat Z, who turns out to hold the key to the plot in his hat. The crisis involves a pink bathtub ring and other pink residue left by the Cat after he snacks on a cake in the bathtub with the water running. Preliminary attempts to clean it up fail as they only transfer the mess elsewhere, including a dress, the wall, a pair of ten dollar shoes, a rug, the bed, and then eventually outside. A "spot killing" war then takes place between the mess and Little Cats A through V, who use an arsenal of primitive weapons including pop guns, bats, and a lawnmower. Unfortunately, the initial battle to rid the mess only makes it into an entire yard-covering spot. Little Cats V, W, X, and Y then take off their hats to uncover microscopic Little Cat Z. Z takes his hat off and unleashes a "Voom", which cleans up the back yard and puts all of the other Little Cats back into the big Cat in the Hat's hat.

The book ends in a burst of flamboyant versification, with the full list of little cats arranged into a metrically-perfect rhymed quatrain, designed to teach the reader the alphabet.

Little Cats A, B and C were also characters in the 1996 TV series The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (Little Cat N also made an appearance, but only once and some of the alphabetical cats appeared in Season 2 regularly as Little Cat Z began to be visible).

The Cat in The Hat Comes Back was part of the Beginner Book Video series along with There's a Wocket in My Pocket! and Fox in Socks.

Adrian Edmondson narrated both Cat in the Hat stories for a HarperCollins audiobook that also includes Fox in Socks and Green Eggs and Ham.

Beginner Books

The Cat in the Hat was published by Random House. However, because of its success, an independent publishing company was formed, called Beginner Books. Geisel was the president and editor. Beginner Books was chartered as a series of books oriented toward various stages of early reading development. (From 1957 to 1960, Random House was the distributor of Beginner Books. In 1960, Random House purchased Beginner Books, and it became a division of Random House.)[5] The second book in the series, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, published in 1958, was nearly as popular.[citation needed]

Springing from this series of beginning readers were such standards as A Fly Went By (1958), Sam and the Firefly (1958), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Go, Dog. Go! (1961), Hop on Pop (1963), and Fox in Socks (1965), each a monument in the picturebook industry, and also significant in the historical development of early readers. All are still in print and remain very popular over forty years after their initial publication.[citation needed]

Creators in the Beginner Book series included Stan and Jan Berenstain, P. D. Eastman, Roy McKie, and Helen Palmer (Mr. Geisel's wife). The Beginner Books dominated the children's picturebook market of the 1960s, and still plays a significant role today within the phases of students' reading development. The early success of Beginner Books, both from a commercial and learn-to-read perspective, initiated the blurring between educational and entertainment books.[6]

The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library

In 1998, Random House launched a series titled "The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library." In each book, the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, teach Dick (the boy's name in The Cat in the Hat was not revealed, but the 1971 animated special suggested it was Conrad) and Sally about the book's topic. There are even side notes that are narrated by Thing 1 and Thing 2. In the book Clam-I-Am, the Cat in the Hat takes a break, and Dick and Sally's beloved pet, Norval the Fish, (the fish's name in the cartoon special was Karlos K. Krinklebein) along with the Cat in the Hat and the Things, teaches the children about life at the beach.

At the end of each book, after the Cat in the Hat's teaching is done, there is a glossary on some of the words used, an index, and a list of suggested books, from other publishers, that cover the topic each book covered. While the Learning Library Series kept Dick and Sally intact, they've made changes to Thing 1 and Thing 2. In the original The Cat in the Hat book and the special, Thing 1 and Thing 2 had plain white skin and blue hair and wore red sleepers. In "The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library," the illustrators have changed the Things' appearance so that they have pink skin and yellow hair and wear blue sleepers.


Animated media

  • The Cat in the Hat, a 1971 American animated musical television special
  • The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, a 1982 American animated musical television special; a crossover in which the Cat in the Hat meets the Grinch.
  • The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, a 2010 animated television series seen on PBS Kids in the United States and Treehouse TV in Canada starring Martin Short in the role of the Cat.


The film adaptation of the book was released in 2003. It was produced by Brian Grazer and directed by Bo Welch, and stars Mike Myers in the title role of the Cat in the Hat, and Dakota Fanning as Sally. Sally's brother, who is not named in the book, is known in this version as "Conrad" and played by Spencer Breslin.

While the basic plot of the live-action adaptation of The Cat in the Hat rotates around that of the book, the film filled out its 82 minutes by adding new subplots and characters quite different from those of the original story, similar to How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Reviews were critically negative criticizing the film's crude humor, language, and mature content, and the film was nominated for eight Golden Raspberry Awards.

Seussical the Musical

Seussical the Musical is a musical that combines different Dr. Seuss stories together. The Cat In The Hat plays the narrator, as well as a few minor characters. In the original Broadway production, this role was played by David Shiner.

Educational CD game

Living Books has created an educational CD game of the story, guided by animated characters. Software MacKiev brought this electronic version of the book to the Mac OS X.


Opened in 1999 at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure park in Orlando, Florida, the ride takes guests on a colorful journey into the story of The Cat in the Hat.

Android App

The Cat in the Hat also adapted into a popular android paid app and listed as one of the popular paid apps at Android market.

Quoted in the U.S. Senate

In the 110th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid compared the impasse over a bill to reform immigration with the mess created by the Cat in The Cat in the Hat. He read lines of the book from the Senate floor, quoting "'That is good,' said the fish. 'He's gone away, yes. But your mother will come. She will find this big mess.'"[7] He then carried forward his analogy hoping the impasse would be straightened out for "If you go back and read Dr. Seuss, the cat manages to clean up the mess."[8] Reid's hopes did not come about for as one analyst put it "the Cat in the Hat did not have to contend with cloture."[7]


All were published by Random House. The original edition was a joint publication with Houghton Mifflin.

  • The Cat in the Hat:
    • First Edition

The first edition was published in 1957, prior to the establishment of ISBNs. The first edition can be identified by the '200/200' in the top right corner of the front dust jacket flap, signifying the $2.00 selling price. The Cat In The Hat sold for $2.00 for the first year of publication, then was reduced to $1.95 with the establishment of Beginner Books in 1958. According to the Children's Picturebook Price Guide, 2006-2007 edition, The first edition Cat In The Hat has an estimated market value of $4000[citation needed].

See also


  1. ^ MacDonald, Ruth K. (1988). "Chapter 4, The Beginnings of the Empire: The Cat in the Hat and Its Legacy". Dr. Seuss. Twayne. pp. 105–146. 
  2. ^ a b Morgan, Judith; Neil Morgan (1995). Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel. Random House. p. 154. ISBN 0679416862. 
  3. ^ The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel The Cat at 50: Still lots of good fun that is funny: "There are more than 10 million copies in print today in more than a dozen languages, including the Latin, "Cattus Petasatus."" (April 14, 2007)
  4. ^ Lodge, Sally (1/11/2007). "The Cat in the Hat Turns 50…With a Bang". Children's Bookshelf (Publishers Weekly). Retrieved 2008-09-21. "The Cat in the Hat has sold more than 10.5 million copies in its classic edition alone (not including massive book club sales)." [dead link]
  5. ^ Morgan, Judith; Neil Morgan (1995). Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography. Random House. p. 167. 
  6. ^ Zielinski, Linda; Stan Zielinksi (2006). Children's Picturebook Price Guide. Flying Moose Books. p. 14. 
  7. ^ a b Dana Milbank (June 8, 2007). "Snubbing the White House, Without Snubbing the White House". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ Stephen Dinan (June 6, 2007). "Senate tries to cool immigration bill heat". Washington Times. 

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