Songwriters write about their cars, their dogs, their lost loves, and yes, their cats.
While songs about cats may not be as numerous as say, car songs, beach songs, or heaven forbid, dog songs, there are plenty of classics to choose from. While the following list is not comprehensive, here, in no particular order, is a selection of the best cat songs ever.
Stray Cat Strut by Stray Cats
This one even has “Meow” in it, and that just makes it so much better. Released in 1981 on the Stray Cats debut album, this tune reached to Number 11 in the UK. The band had moved to England from the US and got things going there before it was then released in the States on the Built for Speed album and charted at Number 3. Written by guitarist Brian Setzer, this is still a mainstay in his big band concerts today with the Brian Setzer Orchestra. His guitar solo in the song was ranked number 92 on the “Top 100 Guitar Solos of all Time List” in the October 1998 issue of Guitar World Magazine.
Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent
Written by Ted Nugent, this ditty was featured on his third album, titled what else but: Cat Scratch Fever. Released in 1977, this song put the Motor City Madman on the charts for good. Though there is an actual affliction called cat scratch, and the song seems to touch on that, he is really just being sexually suggestive as most good rock and roll songs are. The album has been certified as multi-platinum, which means it paid for a whole lot of kitty treats.
I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat by Mel Blanc
Mel Blanc was the voice of both Tweety Bird and Sylvester the Cat in the cartoons by Warner Bros, which sounds like a classic conflict of interest. Mel did both voices for this recording written by Alan Livingston, Billy May, and Warren Foster. It was obviously a novelty song, but reached No. 9 in the Billboard charts in 1951. It would go on to sell more than two million records and has been covered by several artists since.
What’s New Pussycat by Tom Jones
Tom didn’t write this one himself, and while he should be remembered for several way better songs, this was a biggie for him. Written by two heavyweights—Burt Bacharach and Hal David—this song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 1966 Oscars. In the U.S., the song peaked at Number 3 and was Jones' second Top 40 hit. Believe it or not, "What’s New Pussycat" was also performed by Bobby Darin, Steve Lawrence, The Wailers and even Alvin and the Chipmunks. Why chipmunks would want to sing about cats just shows how hip this "cat" song was.
Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin
This one doesn’t really have anything to do with cats other than the opening line of the chorus, “And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon...” It mentions cats in every chorus, so it must have a place here, right? Harry wrote this song and recorded it in 1974 for his album Verities & Balderdash. It was nominated for the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. The lyrics started as a poem by Harry’s wife and is said to be about his relationship with his son. He once said, “Frankly, this song scares me to death.”
Year of the Cat by Al Stewart
Though also not really about cats, this song at least has the signature lyrics, “In the year of the cat,” at the end of four out of seven verses. The melody first came to Stewart in 1966 and he titled it, “Foot of the Stage.” He then wrote new lyrics and recorded and released it in 1976, which was the Year of Cat, according to the Vietnamese Zodiac. 1976 was also the year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac, so this one almost didn’t make this list. Though Al Stewart did have a bigger hit with his song "Time Passages" in 1978, "The Year of the Cat," which was also the name of the album, became his most noteworthy work.
Any Song by Cat Stevens
If you Google “Cat Songs” you get a listing of their top 51 choices and 19 of them are by Cat Stevens. Either Cat, who now goes by the name Yusuf Islam, is a huge cat fan and loves to sing about them, or his name skewed the Google algorithms. He does also have one on the list called "I love My Dog," so I’m thinking those lists are a little confused. I would check all the rest of them out for you, but I think I'll let you do that yourself.
Michael Ryan is a full-time musician along with a humor, travel and outdoor recreation columnist. He's also an avid skier and golfer and has traveled extensively around the U.S, the Caribbean and Europe. His musical career takes him all over the U.S. and his wife drags him everywhere else. His weekly columns “The Life of Ryan” ran in the Transcript and Sentinel newspaper chain for several years and have been featured in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Mile High Magazine. He is the co-founder, editor and humor columnist for ColoradoLocalLegends.com and currently resides in Morrison, Colorado.