Classics Picture Books Poetry

Shakespeare Cats: My Version of Cute Cat Videos

I am a cat person. I have lived with, in the order of appearance, Wolfie (for Mozart), Moose (who walked with a swagger despite his small size), Salt (who was all black), Kitty (aka White and Black Kitty) and my current cat Lily, a Siamese with the sky-blue eyes of her breed.

They all had different personalities. Wolfie was laid back and loving. Kitty had a personality disorder. She wanted to get close to you, but at a certain point — which was known only to her — she’d lash out with tooth and claw. I paid for two friends and a house painter to get tetanus shots because of her.

Lily is sweet but not too bright. One evening, Bill and I were cleaning out a room in the basement and caught a quick movement among some boxes. It flashed by so fast. Then we saw it again. A mouse! A tiny field mouse. I shut the door to the room and told Bill to get Lily. Bill put her down and we waited. The mouse zipped briefly into view. Lily turned her head but didn’t shift her weight. We plopped her at the spot of the last sighting. She did nothing. She was not interested.

My real life cats are always uninteresting, needy cretins – meaning they are cats –compared to those in Shakespeare Cats. This book by Susan Herbert, first published in 1996, features drawings of cats in costume, acting out scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.


Like cute cat videos, I can’t get enough of Shakespeare Cats. I have given away more copies of this book than any other. The recipients range in age from 4 to 84. I hope that the pictures have lifted their spirits as much as they have lifted mine.


One of my favorites is “Richard the Third.” The hump, the evil glare, the marked resemblance to my White and Black Kitty.

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

And from “Julius Caesar,”


 Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend

me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise


The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their


So let it be with Caesar.

Mark Antony’s extended paw, his steady gaze and his upraised tail all speak to his masculine strength and determination. You can tell from their eyes and their uplifted paws that the Roman mob is suspicious and unsettled.

I had such a wonderful time looking at the cat pictures with my grandson Edin, then almost four. The first page, All hail, Macbeth!, showed Macbeth in his Tartan, holding a sword and looking up at the three calico witches. I told Edin that Macbeth was afraid of the witches. He asked why when Macbeth was the one with the sword. I said, “Those witches have magic.” Edin nodded knowingly. Later I overheard him explaining to his mom that the witches have magic.


My absolute favorite is Cleopatra, a Siamese cat, of course. When I first saw her, I gasped. She was beautiful. She was exotic. Her dress was over-the-top. She was a fantasy. She was perfect.

“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale,
Her infinite variety.”

I have read the book to Lily the cat to inspire her to greater things. She had the same reaction as she had with the mouse. She was not impressed.


Tell me:  What human attributes do your pets have?

By Cathy Luh

I am a doctor, a writer and Grammy to Edin and Caleb. I live in St. Louis with husband Bill.

5 replies on “Shakespeare Cats: My Version of Cute Cat Videos”

I never had a cat or a dog as a pet. But my husband had enough encounters with stray cats when we lived in an apartment. One of them would come into the living room and sit on the chair behind my husband during cold winter days. It and my husband kept each other warm. 🙂


I never had a cat or a dog as a pet. But my husband had enough encounters with stray cats when we lived in an apartment. One of them would come into the living room and sit on the chair behind my husband during cold winter days. It and my husband kept each other warm. 🙂


I was for many years a ‘cat person,’ as was my wife, Li. I enjoyed the pet aspect, sitting on my lap and purring when stroked. I also got off on their antics – chasing critters or phantoms. I also liked their independence – we could go away for a week and leave them in the garage with ample food, water, and litter boxes, and they’d be fine. I had a three-legged cat and I greatly admired her resilience. When we retired to Florida, we felt settled enough to take on the responsibility of a dog. We fostered a number of dogs until they found owners, and one day I returned from a trip to find Li had adopted a super cute Silky Terrier puppy which we named Bruno. When Li passed away a few months later, my bond with the dog often felt like the only thing that kept me going. Five years down the road, Bruno provides emotional support that no cat ever could.


Cute review. I’m probably a cat person too, but haven’t had a pet for decades. My last cat was a great mouser, but didn’t always finish the job. Memories of jumping onto chairs while Mom caught the mouse offering from “Kitty”


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