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A collection of cat poems written by T. S. Eliot. They were largely written for his godchildren, and are thus rather more whimsical and cheerful than his more famous poetry. Nonetheless, it does contain Eliot's gift for allusions and sharp observations. The first edition, published by Faber and Faber, also featured his own illustrations. Other versions included illustrations by Edward Gorey.

Eliot's poems describe a number of curious and most singular cats, all of whom encompass common (if exaggerated) aspects of feline behaviour. Unlike its more famous adaptation, the musical Cats, the poems have little connection with one another, and there is no overarching storyline.

Tropes used in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats include:
  • Awesome McCoolname: The second name of a cat should be like this.
  • Captain Ersatz: Macavity is obviously meant to be an allusion to Moriarty.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Jennyanydots teaches mice and cockroaches. Presumably, she's fed by her human owners.
  • Cats Are Mean: Subverted - like humans, there are mean cats and nice cats.
  • The Chessmaster: Macavity's behind every crime.
  • Cool Teacher: Jennyanydots.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: "Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity / He's broken every human law; he breaks the law of gravity."
  • Formally-Named Pet: Mr. Mistoffelees.
  • I Have Many Names: "Each cat must have three different names." An everyday one, a more dignified one, and one only the cat knows.
  • I Know Your True Name: The cat's third name should be only known to him or herself.
  • Mega Neko: Bustopher Jones as the fat kind, and the Great Rumpuscat as the huge and scary type.
  • Outlaw Couple: Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer.
  • Shout-Out: Macavity's poem contains several to the Sherlock Holmes canon.
  • What Could Have Been: Originally planned (and marketed) as Mr Eliot's Book of Jellicle Cats and Pollicle Dogs as Recounted to Him by the Man in White Spats, with a storyline running through the poems that would end with Jellicles, Pollicles and Man in White Spats all ascending to the Heaviside layer, before Eliot apparently decided mixing cat poems and dog poems was a mistake (although the Pollicles still get a mention in one poem). Some elements of this would be used as the plot of Cats.
  • White Dwarf Starlet: Gus, the Theatre Cat.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Implied by the crowning achievement of Mr. Mistoffelees, The Original Conjuring Cat:

 And not long ago this phenomenal Cat

Produced seven kittens right out of a hat!

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