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Origins: I Love Little Pussy

Startled cat is startled

I love little pussy,
Her coat is so warm,
And if I don’t hurt her,
She’ll do me no harm.

So I’ll not pull her tail,
Nor drive her away,
But pussy and I,
Very gently will play.

I’ll sit by the fire
And give her some food,
And Pussy will love me
Because I am good.

A rhyme that’s fallen out of favour in recent years (because pornographic slang they’ve never heard and certainly don’t associate with anything untoward apparently corrupts our children), I Love Little Pussy is a simple didactic poem for youngsters reminding them to be kind to animals. First published with an additional three stanzas in Melvin Lord and John C. Holbrook’s A Child’s song book, for the use of schools and families : being a selection of favourite airs, with hymns and moral songs, suitable for infant instruction in 1830, a copy of which is available online. The book is described by its publishers as,

[An] attempt to combine pure religious and moral sentiment with innocent hilarity […] dedicated to those benevolent ladies who devote their time and talents to the cause of infant education, with the hope that it shall be in some degree auxiliary to their meritorious enterprize.

The poem appeared anonymously, but has been attributed to Jane Taylor, famous for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. A Child’s Song Book was published five years after Taylor’s death, which does not rule out her authorship, but does suggest more reasearch should be done.

Recently the poem has been bowdlerised to “I Love Little Kitty” by some. Needless to say, I think this is ridiculous.

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