It's Like This, Cat

by Emily Cheney Neville

Other authorsEmil Weiss (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1996



Local notes

PB Nev




HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. (1996), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 176 pages


The story of a fourteen-year-old New York boy and his relationships with a stray tomcat, an eccentric old woman, a troubled older boy, the first girl with whom he has been friends, and his father.


Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1966)
Newbery Medal (Medal Winner — 1964)
Vermont Golden Dome Book Award (Nominee — 1964-1965)


Original publication date


Physical description

176 p.; 5.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member RochelleRobinson
It's Like This, Cat is about a boy who lives in New York in the sixties. He is lonely and only has one friend and all his friend wants to do is talk to girls. The cat's name is actually "Cat" because he couldn't come up with anything better. He and the cat became best friends. He makes friends at
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his new school. He even has a girlfriend.

This story was OK for me. Not to sure what the outcome was supposed to be? Not sure what the book/author was trying to say to the reader. We can all relate to owning pets and also going to a new school and making new friends.

As an extension idea, we would discuss the relationship between the boym and the cat, to compare it to our relationships.
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LibraryThing member debnance
First recent read: I can see why this book confused me as a child...a New York apartment setting (do people live in apartments? why don't they have a house?) eighteenyear old boy who is homeless (where are the boy's parents?)...young teenagers who wander around a big city (isn't that
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dangerous?)...a girl whose mother is a beatnik (what in the world is that?) This world was totally outside of my experiences as a ten year old girl in small town Texas.Second recent read: Dave and his dad fight all the time and Dave’s mother gets sick. Dave brings home a cat who he appropriately names Cat. Cat helps Dave meet Tom and Mary and binds Dave and his parents into a real family. I can remember reading this book when I was a young girl. I remember being confused about people who live in apartments (people do that?) and hearing a dad and his son argue all the time (a son is talking back to his dad and surviving?). I remember thinking Tom was an odd duck, a boy who was ignored by his family (does that really happen?) And the lingo the people speak, especially the young people, a dialect and vocabulary so different from my Texas lingo….This book took me right out of my little small-town world.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
What's interesting about this book is not the amazing plot or exciting adventures (because really, there aren't any). Instead, it's a picture of a boy, just starting high school, who is figuring out his relationship with his father, seeing how different families do things, making new friends, and
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discovering girls. Set in New York, the city becomes another character, as Dave heads out to Coney Island, or over to the fish market, or down to Brooklyn. It's a lovely look at growing up in a different era (set in the early 60's).
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LibraryThing member nules
I listened to the recording of this (it's public domain in the USA, surprisingly).This book won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1964.This was quite a good book. It seems to be mostly one of those slice of life sorts of books. It doesn't really seem
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to end normally, either—it just stops after a good while (or that was my first-listen impression).It's mostly about a kid, friends he makes, his experiences with them and his family, and his experiences with his cat and Kate. This doesn't seem to be the sort of book you can spoil.Just a word of warning for the wary, though:One could think the kid is disrespectful to his parents—it can certainly come off that way, anyway, but I imagine he was raised in a fashion where that was more acceptable, or perhaps it was in his culture or something (but I certainly wouldn't recommend encouraging modern youths to follow his example in that regard—it could certainly offend, and I'm sure did to some extend even then).There is a scene where something dies in a sort of way might startle and sadden people (saying what wouldn't really spoil anything, though, since if it were a movie, it would be like an extra or something, since it dies the moment you hear about it).Yeah, I remember people telling me that cottage cheese was healthy. I still don't know the reasoning behind that, except for the protein and the bit of calcium it has. Maybe it has some bacterial cultures or something.
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LibraryThing member tben7672
In the book "It's Like This, Cat", Dave, who lives in New York, gets into a fight with his dad over a record. They quarral quit frequently and make Dave's Mom's asthma worse. Furious after the fight, Dave goes over to Aunt Kate, a woman that eats nothing but cottege cheese and takes in stray cats,
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to help cool down and he discovers a stray tabby tom that he takes a liking to. Kate lets him keep it and Dave manages to keep Cat in his room and stops having another argument. When Cat didn't come home one night, Tom, a nine teen year old boy, helps break Cat out of a locked basment and later befriends Dave. After a fight with his best friend, Dave writes and visits Tom who works at a quirky gas station and they start to understand each other better. Once Dave starts exploring New York with Tom, he meets a girl named Mary and he gets his father to help Tom since he droped out of colledge and his father doesn't care about him. As soon as Tom gets a job in a flower shop, Dave starts to go out with Mary and they begin to have a relationship. After a gruesom argument with his Dad, Dave begins to see how much they are alike and soon after Tom desides to get married and join the Army. Because of the rescuse of Cat, Tom, Dave, and Dave's Dad apprecciate the improvement and change in their lives.

This book shows how one person or animal can change the lives of many, even if it is by accident. If it wasn't for Cat, Tom would have never met Dave and probebly would end up in jail. Because of Cat, Dave had a relationship with Mary and made a best friend. Dave and his dad would have maby never gotten along and tension would have gone to far. One part in the book I didn't mention was very sad. When Aunt Kate's brother passed away, he left her millions of dollars. Of course reporters streamed into her small shack and wouldn't leave until they had questions answered. One of the kitten climed out of its box to explore but a reporter stepped on it and killed it. That poor kitten ;(! Still, you should really read this book if you like to read about how people change.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Continuing my quest to read all Newbery medal and honor books, I pulled this one off my book shelf. A 1964 Newbery Medal winner that frankly leaves me mystified at the process of how and who selects the winners.

This is a story of David who lives in New York City and adopts a cat. On the surface it
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appears to be a story of an animal that changed the lives of those with whom it contacted. Below the surface, there appears to be many randomly sprinkled subplots of characters and events. It is indeed as fluffy as the cat!

Ugh, I just cannot connect with this book at all. Not recommended.
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LibraryThing member fuzzi
Dave Mitchell is 14, and lives in Manhattan. His father is an attorney who doesn't agree with Dave's choices in life: when he thinks his son should get a dog, Dave brings home a tiger striped tomcat, and names him 'Cat'.

It's a year of change for Dave, with new friends and new ideas about life in
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general. This story reminded me of "The Catcher in the Rye", but without the emotional baggage of Holden Caulfield.

I can see why it is a Newbery Award winner. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member satyridae
It was hard for me to grok why this one got a Newbery. It's such a nothing story- I don't see much growth in the protagonist, I don't understand what the satellite characters bring to the table, and hoo-boy is it dated.
LibraryThing member TimBazzett
IT'S LIKE THIS, CAT, written by Emily Neville and illustrated by Emil Weiss, first published fifty years ago, won the Newberry Medal in 1964. I found this copy - obviously a reissue in hardback - in a bookstore remainder bin, deeply discounted. In an earlier life, back in the 70s, I once taught
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Children's Lit to elementary education majors, and tried to at least familiarize myself with many of the award-winning books for children. This was not one I remembered, so I thought I'd try it.

While it was a pleasant enough read that moved along at an even pace, I found it to be dated and even "quaint" in both its language and in the way it depicted teenagers. Early praise from reviewers commented on its "touch of the vernacular" and the dialogue as being "modern teenage but never phony." HUH? I mean the dialogue here would have been considered stilted and quaint - maybe even 'phony' - even in 1963. Here's a story about a fourteen year-old boy, Dave Mitchell, who is still uncertain of so many things, often at odds with his stodgy attorney father, over things like his cat and music. Well, it's certainly true that teenagers and fathers often clash, but the reasons here seem out of touch and hokey. For example the noisiest Dave's music seems to get is a record by Harry Belafonte. Again, HUH? Where was Elvis, Little Richard, or Chuck Berry in this supposedly typical tale of teen angst? Nary a mention, that's where. And while I'm at it, if the book came out in '63 wasn't it supposed to be set in present-day New York? But it seems more like the fifties than the tumultuous times that marked the sixties. The young protagonist seems, in fact, to be extremely buttoned-down and conventional in his behavior and interests. His friends too, for that matter - an Italian Catholic who leaves for a Catholic high school and a studious Jewish boy who goes to shul. And his first girlfriend, Mary, who is the daughter of a couple of "beatniks," and yet nary a mention of Dylan or Greenwich Village. Young Dave lives, in fact, a very sheltered and careful life in a far away land called Grammercy Park.

I could say more, but here's my summation: this book has not aged well. It seems today, fifty years on, little more than trite, contrived and overly well-mannered. Dave Mitchell reminds me of young Bud, on "Father Knows Best," a show from the fifties, I might add.

And one more thing. The story has no ending. It ends 'in media res.' I mean, wait a minute, where's the conclusion? What happens with Dave and Mary? Does Kate the cat lady come to terms with her sudden windfall? Will Tom and Hilda make things work? Does Mom's asthma get better? Does Dad simply all of a sudden stop being such a jerk? Does Dave's DA grow back in satisfactorily? I mean all these unanswered questions.

What we have here is a sweet little NYC fairy tale from the fifties, but I'm afraid I couldn't really recommend it to kids today. Most of 'em would be bored stiff. And I can't help but wonder whether the kids in 1963 and '64 might have been just as bored.
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LibraryThing member Yona
This is the first book I still have a memory of reading. It was probably the year it came out because I would have been 9 or 10 at the time. I remembered loving this very much - it really touched me. On rereading as an adult I found that it was not a page turner but I still really like the story
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and it was nicely written. I recommend this to anyone in the age group that I saw listed as 10 to 13, perhaps extending it a year or two on the younger end - or perhaps someone older that just likes a nicely written story and doesn't need to get totally immersed in every book. My rating in this case takes into account what I thought as an adult combined with my memory of it as a child.
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LibraryThing member knitwit2
I picked up a copy of “It’s Like This, Cat” by Emily Neville because the retro cover caught my eye. Turns out the cover wasn’t intended to be ironic in anyway it’s just old! The book was published in 1964, making it a bit older than me. In this charming book we meet Dave and his adopted
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stray cat with whom we travel the streets of NYC. We join Dave as he makes and loses friends, has his first crush, and navigates a mild teenage rebellion. It’s a treat to travel back in time and find that regardless of the decade kids are kids.
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LibraryThing member klburnside
This book is the 1964 Newbery winner. It's a simple story about a 14 year old boy having adventures in New York city. Not a lot of drama or excitement, but a nice little story.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
A 14 yo teenage boy in 1962 (or so) in New York City has mostly different perspectives and concerns than does the 12 yo surburban child who is likely being encouraged to read this now. But my 12 son did like it, in part because he did like learning about that different setting. I enjoyed it too.
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I'm not quite sure it was Newbery worthy, but it does deserve to stay in print. Maybe a new cover illustration would be good, though.

ETA - Hmm. My son is now almost 16. And he's still not as mature as the teen in this book. Different times, with different expectations? Or do I baby my youngest? (I try not to, but he's so cute it's possible I do! ;) Did any of you read this when you were a teenager?
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LibraryThing member foggidawn
Dave, a young teen in New York City in the early 1960's, navigates friend troubles, conflict with his father, his first girlfriend, and, of course, pet ownership when he adopts a stray tomcat.

This book evokes era in New York City in a way similar to West Side Story (which is, coincidentally,
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name-checked in the book). There's some nice character development in this one, as Dave learns to understand his father's point of view -- at least in some cases. It's maybe more of a '50s story than a 60's one (a ducktail haircut and Harry Belafonte records are about the extent of Dave's teenage rebellion), and seems a bit innocent and clean-cut compared to what the same story might have been if it were set 5-10 years later. Still, it's a solid story and a fairly quick read. I think I read this one as a child, though my only recollection is of the cover, so maybe I just picked it up and put it down again! I'm not really sure who I'd recommend this book to, honestly.
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LibraryThing member gmoore8911
I was hesitant about this book because of the title. However once I knew about this book, I gave it a try. Definitely glad I did!! Awesome story. I kept forgetting about the time it was written in and the money was throwing me off. Also, the age of Dave. I kept thinking he was a grown teenager and
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not a young adolescent. This story was beautifully written. Love the relationship between and boy and his cat.
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Sadly, yet another book that did not travel along with me as I have gotten older. Loved it as a kid, at 55 not so much. :-(

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