If you know anything about me, you know how much I love my pups, Snowball and Sandy. (You’ve seen them on my Instagram page, right?) But did you know that I have a new love? It’s my kitten, Ruthie! Isn’t she precious?
A couple of years ago I wrote a post about 10 Pawsome Middle-Grade Books for Dog Lovers but now that Ruthie has joined the family it seemed only fair to write a post about middle-grade books with cats. I found more than twice as many cat books as dog books, but let’s not mention that to the animals, okay? Ruthie already thinks she’s superior to the pups.
Some of these books are about people with cats, some are from the cat’s point of view, and some just have cats in them . . . but they’re all fun reads. Enjoy!
1. Ava and Taco Cat by Carol Weston
I enjoy stories written like diaries, don’t you? You really get to know the character’s thoughts and feelings that way
Amazon description: Ava Wren desperately wants a cat for her 11th birthday―but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts a rescue cat.
When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn’t snuggle or purr―all he does is hide. Worse, Ava’s best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, “The Cat Who Wouldn’t Purr” with her sister. What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster.
How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?
2. Catlantis by Anna Starobinets
What’s better than a story about cats? A story about a time-traveling cat on a great adventure!
Amazon description: Baguette, a seemingly ordinary house cat, is a descendant of the magic Catlanteans who lived long ago in peace and happiness on the island of Catlantis. When he falls in love with the seductive alley cat Purriana, she insists Baguette accomplish a heroic feat before she’ll agree to marriage.
They pay a visit to the oracle, Purriana’s great-great grandmother, who reveals to the surprised Baguette the secret of his bloodline and the special inheritance of all ginger descendants of the Catlanteans: the ability to time travel. She relates the cat-astrophe that befell Baguette’s ancestors when Catlantis was struck by storms and sank to the bottom of the Catlantic Ocean. Now Baguette must travel into the past in order to bring back the Catlantic flowers that will grant every cat nine lives. All the cats of the world have been awaiting his deed, but can Baguette, a lovesick tabby, fulfill the prophecy?
3. Catwings by Ursula K Le Guin
My Ruthie can’t exactly fly, but that doesn’t stop her trying. At least, that’s what it looks like when she leaps off of things. If only she had wings like these kitties…
Amazon description: Mrs. Jane Tabby has always longed to get away from the cramped alleys of the city. She knows it is too late for her, but she thinks her longing may be the reason her litter of kittens was born with wings. When they are old enough to fly, she sends the four kittens, who become known as catwings, out into the world to find their home. But they find that danger does not lurk only in city alleyways.
4. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Sometimes you just need a friend, even if that friend is an imaginary cat. From the author of The One and Only Ivan.
Amazon description: Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
5. The Cat Who Came In off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt
This is a quirky story about a man who’s so shy he doesn’t want to talk to anyone and a woman who talks to cats—and understands them when they talk back.
Amazon description: Shy reporter Mr. Tibble is close to losing his job because he only writes about cats. But when an act of kindness brings him into contact with the unusual Miss Minou, his luck suddenly begins to change.
Minou provides Tibble with juicy news. But it’s who is giving her the gossip that’s newsworthy. Minou claims that the tips come from her local feline friends, who are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. Tibble is appreciative but can’t help wondering: How could this be? And why is Minou so terrified of dogs and so skilled at climbing trees and rooftops?
It’s almost as if she’s a cat herself.
6. Pie by Sarah Weeks
This book is as sweet as…well…pie. It also has recipes (!) if you make one of the pies let me know on my Instagram page. I’d love to see a picture!
Amazon description: When Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.
Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of doing something for the right reason.
7. Cat in the City by Julie Salamon
Cats may seem like loners, but this one learns how important it is to have friends. That’s a good lesson for people, too.
Amazon description: A city savvy stray cat named Pretty Boy has always managed to make it on his own. He’s as vain as they come, and he won’t admit to being dependent on anyone. But as he discovers the pleasures of friendship, he learns that home really is where the heart is. Or, at the very least, home is where his friends are. And with friends all around New York City, Pretty Boy will always have a place to call home.
8. How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin
Amazon description: Every Friday the 13th, 6th grade genius and inventor extraordinaire Nate Bannister does three not-so-smart things to keep life interesting. This time, he taught a caterpillar math, mailed a love letter, and super-sized his cat Proton before turning him invisible.
As Nate and his new (well, only) friend Delphine race to stop Proton from crushing everyone and everything in town, they come face-to-face with Sir Jakob Maculte (the twenty-seventh lord of Mayberry Castle and leader of the nefarious Red Death Tea Society). Known for its criminal activity, killer tactics, and impressive tea brewing skills, the Red Death Tea Society will do anything to get in their way.
Nate and Delphine must pull out every mind-blowing gadget, half-perfected invention, and unproven but theoretically sound strategy they’ve got up their sleeves in order to survive to see Saturday the 14th!
9. The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs by Cylin Busby
The cat in this book is based on one of the author’s real cats. That one didn’t live on a ship, but little Jacob Tibbs does. Get ready to sail away on a grand adventure!
Amazon description: Captain Natick does not want to take a kitten on board his ship as it sets sail, but his daughter convinces him that the scrawny yellow cat will bring him good luck. Onto the ship the kitten goes, and so begins the adventurous, cliff-hanging, lucky life of Jacob Tibbs, who must learn how to hunt rats, brave a mutiny, survive on a desert island, and, most importantly, navigate the tricky waters of shipboard life, no matter where the waves may take him.
10. Little Cat’s Luck by Marion Dane Bauer
This one is told “in verse” which is a fancy way of saying it’s a poem. That means it can be fun to read out loud as well as to yourself. Or you can read it to yourself out loud. However you read it, Little Cat’s Luck is a sweet story.
Amazon description: When an indoor calico cat named Patches spots a golden autumn leaf fluttering past her window, she can’t help but venture outside to chase it. But soon, Patches feels something tugging at her, telling her to find a special place—one she won’t know until she sees it. Why must she go on this search? She doesn’t know yet.
Along the way, Patches finds herself in dire circumstances, but with the help of the other neighborhood animals, she faces off against the scariest dog in town and continues on her journey to her special place.
11. Warriors Super Edition: Moth Flight’s Vision by Erin Hunter
If you’re familiar with the Warriors series, this book explains so much. If you’re not, you can still read this book and enjoy it. Warning: parts of it are sad.
Amazon description: Set just after the events of the Dawn of the Clans prequel arc, this super edition follows WindClan’s first medicine cat, Moth Flight, on a quest that changes the shape of the warrior Clans forever.
The five warrior Clans are newly formed, and the forest is at peace—but in WindClan, one young cat is troubled by strange visions that will lead her to a destiny no cat could have predicted.
12. Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars by Constance Lombardo
This book is laugh-out-loud funny and the illustrations are fantastic. I’d go see a movie with Mr. Puffball as the star (or even the stunt cat).
Amazon description: In this hilarious illustrated adventure meet Mr. Puffball, a medium-size feline with a big dream! With amazing humor that appeals to both kids and adults as well as funny illustrations throughout the story, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars is perfect for dreamers, movie buffs, and fans of Timmy Failure and Stick Dog.
He’s a hero for today. Or possibly tomorrow. He’s a cat. He’s awesome. And . . . wait for it . . . he’s going to Hollywood to become a famous movie star! Follow Mr. Puffball on his trip cross-country. (Look at all the postcards to Mom!) See him stumble upon Hobowood! (Not as glamorous as Hollywood, but full of beans.) Watch him land at last in Hollywood, where he meets a cast of thousands (or at least half a dozen) and catapults himself into the next best thing to being a famous movie star: working as a stunt cat to his movie star hero, El Gato!
13. The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein
Magic, animals, adventure . . . it’s kind of like Harry Potter meets Warriors.
Amazon description: When Aldwyn, a young alley cat on the run, ducks into a mysterious pet shop, he doesn’t expect his life to change. But that’s exactly what happens when Jack, a young wizard in training, picks Aldwyn to be his magical familiar.
Finally off the tough streets, Aldwyn thinks he’s got it made. He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he’s the telekinetic cat he claims to be. But when Jack and two other wizards in training are captured by the evil queen, Aldwyn will have to use all of his street smarts, a few good friends, and a nose for adventure to save the day!
14. Cats vs. Robots #1: This is War by Margaret Stohl & Lewis Peterson
I always like books with twins and this one has twins AND cats AND robots AND aliens!
Amazon description: The Robot Federation and the Feline Empire have been at war for eons. And now that fight is coming to a tiny primitive planetoid…Earth. The mission for both cats and robots: retrieve the Singularity Chip. With it, cats can live past their nine lives, and robots are granted eternal battery life.
Meanwhile, twin siblings Max and Min Wengrod are as different as can be. Min always gets good grades, and she loves to read and build robots. Max hates school, and prefers to play games and spend time online with friends.
When Max rescues two kittens and is determined to keep them, Min is horrified that these furballs could ruin her chances at the Battle of the Bots competition. But with hidden forces at play in their own house, and the larger war between cats and robots fast approaching, will the twins be able to put aside their differences before they get caught in the crossfire?
15. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
What would you do in Sweat Pea’s shoes? (Also: you’ve got to love a cat named “Cheese.”)
Amazon description: Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco wasn’t sure what to expect when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. She never could have imagined that they would have the “brilliant” idea of living in nearly identical houses on the same street. In the one house between them lives their eccentric neighbor Miss Flora Mae, the famed local advice columnist behind “Miss Flora Mae I?”
Dividing her time between two homes is not easy. And it doesn’t help that at school, Sweet Pea is now sitting right next to her ex–best friend, Kiera, a daily reminder of the friendship that once was. Things might be unbearable if Sweet Pea didn’t have Oscar—her new best friend—and her fifteen-pound cat, Cheese.
Then one day Flora leaves for a trip and asks Sweet Pea to forward her the letters for the column. And Sweet Pea happens to recognize the handwriting on one of the envelopes. What she decides to do with that letter sets off a chain of events that will forever change the lives of Sweet Pea DiMarco, her family, and many of the readers of “Miss Flora Mae I?”
16. Stick Cat: A Tail of Two Kitties by Tom Watson
Amazon description: It’s a big day in the big city for Stick Cat and his best friend, Edith. There are treasures to hunt, songs to sing, pigeons to catch, and naps to take. But way up on the twenty-third floor, danger lurks just around the corner. Terrible noises and violent crashes trap a desperate man in the building across the alley. Stick Cat will need to navigate his way across the alley—and around Edith’s peculiar ways—to attempt a rescue.
17. Varjak Paw by S.F. Said
A “cat’s eye view” of life—and it’s a pretty exciting life, too. Who knew cats had their own secret version of martial arts?
Amazon description: Mesopotamian Blue cat, Varjak Paw, has never been Outside before; he and his family have always lived in the isolated house at the top of the hill. But Varjak is forced out into the city when the sinister Gentleman and his two menacing cats take over his home.
With help from his mystical ancestor, Jalal, Varjak manages to overcome challenges such as self-survival and a threat from the gangland cats, and he ultimately discovers the terrifying secrets behind the Vanishings. But can he save his own family from their fate?
18. It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
Are you ready to visit New York City in the 1960’s? That’s where this story takes us.
Amazon description: After another fight with Pop, 14-year-old Dave storms out of their apartment and nearly gets hit by a car. Kate, the local cat lady, comes to the rescue, and Dave returns home with an ally: Cat, the stray tom that becomes Dave’s confidante and his key to new friendships and experiences. Cat inadvertently leads Dave to Tom, a troubled 19-year-old who needs help, and Mary, a shy girl who opens Dave’s eyes and ears to music and theater. Even the Cat-related confrontations with Pop take on a new spirit, with less shouting and more understanding.
19. The Cats and the Crystal by Daniel Steven Kahan
Magical cats! Animals in danger! Tons of action! That’s all you really need to know, right?
Amazon description: Tag, Licorice, and Johnny begin their young lives as normal house cats, but it isn’t long before they discover that they can manipulate objects with great ease and think in more complex ways than ordinary animals. Before they know it, they are living on their own—in a mansion—and embarking upon an adventure they could never have imagined.
Tag and Licorice’s parents explain that their family comes from a magical forest where animals have abilities like people, a place which attracts and is only known to animals. Unfortunately, the Animals’ Forest is a place to be avoided, due to the fact that King Wolf and his army, the Canine Order, once drove out all the other animals in their quest for power.
Nevertheless, Tag, Licorice, and their friend Johnny soon find themselves living in Suburb City, the closest city to the Animals’ Forest—and the Canine Order is back, looking for a descendant of the cat who once hid a mystical crystal. The three friends learn that their arrival in the city is more than coincidental and that they have a special connection to the crystal. They must find it first, however, or they and all the other animals will suffer King Wolf’s wrath.
20. Cats on the Run by Ged Gillmore
More magic plus stolen taxis, exploding old ladies, and funny-but-gross humor. And witches. Because why not?
Amazon description: Tuck and Ginger are two cats who really get on each other’s nerves.
But they’ll need to pause the claws if they’re to escape from the apartment where they’re trapped. And escape they must, for their kidnappers are two warty witches who plan to magic Tuck and Ginger’s body parts together to build the best witches’ cat in the world: a black Purrari.
Tuck (who’s a few granules short of a litter-tray) and Ginger (a former street fighter who’s now a flabby tabby) will need to work together if they’re to escape alive and find their way back to their faraway home.
The clock is ticking. The cauldron is bubbling. Ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Start it today!
21. The Cat, the Cash, the Leap, and the List by Sue Campbell
There’s a lot to like about this story but one of my favorite things is how the family works together.
Amazon description: When you secretly adopt a (very) pregnant cat, things get messy FAST. It’s her dream come true: Martha’s cousins are about to come for a six-week summer visit. But instead of hustling to meet her parents and head to the airport to pick them up, she finds herself rescuing a pregnant cat from a garage sale free box. Things get messy when her parents find out—and even worse when the cat runs away before giving birth to the kittens.
And her cousins, Sanjay and Anand, face troubles of their own. Anand must get strong enough to conquer the Tarzan rope that looms across the neighborhood swimming pool. And Sanjay has a big secret stashed in Martha’s attic. Can they all work together to find Martha’s cat and newborn kittens? Or will the urban coyotes get them first?
22. Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth by Lloyd Alexander
A talking cat is one thing . . . but a talking cat that can take you time-traveling? That really is remarkable. This book has been around for a while, so maybe ask your parents if they remember reading it.
Amazon description: Gareth doesn’t have nine lives, but he is definitely not an ordinary cat. For one thing, he can talk. For another, he has magical powers that Jason never dreamed of. “Anywhere, any time, any country, any century”―Gareth tells Jason he can take them traveling through time. And in the wink of a very special cat’s eye, they’re off. From ancient Egypt to Japan, from the land of young Leonardo da Vinci to the town of a woman accused of witchcraft, Jason and Gareth are whisked from place to place and friend to foe. This fantastic tale grabs the imagination and takes it far and wide, on the adventure of not one, but nine, amazing lifetimes.
For more middle grade books with furry friends, check out my list of 20 Middle Grade Books for Animal Lovers. Happy reading!