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I don’t often re-read books, but a handful of cat books that have become such treasures, I read them again and again. When I recently re-read May Sarton’s The Fur Person, I decided it was time to share it with you again.

Originally published in 1957, The Fur Person is one of the most endearing cat stories I’ve ever read. Featuring the true adventures of Tom Jones, May Sarton’s own cat, this little book captures the essence of what a cat is all about in the beautiful prose of this gifted and sensitive writer and poet. The book has been reissued numerous times with different covers.

Prior to choosing Sarton as his person, Tom Jones was quite the cat about town, but as he was tiring of life on the streets, he began his search for a “housekeeper.” “This was to be a systematic search for a housekeeper suitable in every way,” writes Sarton. When he finds a sunny porch, he thinks that perhaps, his search is over. When the two women inside the house he’s chosen (Sarton and her partner, Judy Matlack) offer him some food, his mind is made up. “…the Fur Person bounded up the stairs, and at the very instant he entered the kitchen, the purrs began to swell inside him and he wound himself around two pairs of legs (for he must be impartial), his nose in the air, his tail straight up like a flag, on tip toes, and roaring with thanks.”

As Tom Jones settles into his new home, we follow his adventures as he comes to understand that he has found so much more than just his forever home. He realizes that he is not just a cat, but a Fur Person. “A Fur Person is a cat who has come to love one, or, in very exceptional cases, two human beings, and who has decided to stay with them as long as he lives.”

If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re in for a treat.

I’m still partial to the cover of the 1981 edition I own.

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This was one of the first cat books I remember reading. It was also my first book by May Sarton, and I went on to read everything she ever wrote. I particularly enjoyed her journals, Plant Dreaming Deep and The House by the Sea, perhaps partially because cats feature in both books. Sarton clearly loved and understood cats.

The Fur Person is available from Amazon.

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7 Comments on The Fur Person

  1. If you have not read may Sarton , you are in for a treat. I too have read all her other books and journals. She lived here in Maine

  2. I discovered the Fur Person about the same time as I rescued my first feral cat. I found that reading the book aloud to him calmed him down. I did the same with other cats and sometimes the cats would come sit in front of me to listen, like children around a librarian. Certain chapters were better liked than others. For instance, they loved the chapter where Tom Jones is introduced to his first toy mouse.

  3. THE quintessential cat book! ‘The Rules of the Gentleman Cat’. I first read it when I was about eleven, and it instantly was my cat lover’s bible. Can’t recall how many times I’ve read it, recommended it, or given it as a special gift. May Sarton got everything right. I also like the 1981 cover.

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