Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: November 1, 2022 by Crystal Uys


It seems only fitting that the first book review of the new year is also one of my all time favorite cat books. 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.

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.”

W.W. Norton & Company reissued this book in a beautiful new edition, which features David Canright’s charming illustrations. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this treasured classic, and I hope that by reissuing it, this wonderful story will reach a whole new audience of cat lovers.

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10 Comments on Review: The Fur Person by May Sarton

  1. Great site!I’ve just discovered it.I’m also a dedicated cat lover and all this sounds all too familiar! Glad I found you!

  2. Around !990, my dearest friend, Ann (RIP), gave me this book. The 1st I ever read by May Sarton & one of my favorite books, ever. Written from her heart. And “The Fur Person,” affirmed my belief in our fur companions.

    My life changed when I rescued Kitty in 1987 as a stray kitten. From Day 1, there was something about her that touched me to the core. Well, she lived with me for 23 years. The vet said she never saw such an animal-human relationship. For Kitty was MY Fur *Person. My Best Friend. Our lives enhanced each others. We thrived. Love.

    I look upon all animals as “fur *persons.” They are sentient, of course. However there is so much more to an animal if we only take the time to “listen,” with ALL our senses. And care deeply, with respect.

    Thank you Ingrid for the reminder of this wonderful book <3. (And to reread!:)

    • I absolutely agree that all animals are fur persons, Ronnie. I think May Sarton was far ahead of her time in recognizing this.

  3. My mother received this book as a gift in 1978 and now I have the original copy she had-It is one of the most lovely, endearing books ever about cats. I didn’t know it way back in print (the cover has changed-the original was a black and white cat looking out a window))- i intend to purchase a few as gifts.

  4. Fur Person was gifted to me in 1988 by a dear friend and fellow cat lover, it was the first of many cat related books to be read over the years, but remains my favorite. It makes a lovely little gift for any cat lover on your list. I still have my original and I think it’s time to read it once again, it’s been awhile. Thanks for reviewing it, I didn’t realize it was even still in print.

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