The Cat in the Hat as a child predator: How these stories traumatize and send wrong messages to children

By Sarah Walker |

The Cat in the Hat books, by Dr. Seuss, have been a part of American childhood for the past several decades. After my son was born, these were some of the first stories I read to him. The illustrations and verse quickly made them some of his favorite books.

But ever since I started reading these stories to my son, something about them has bothered me. At first I thought it was just that the Cat in the Hat is a jerk. After all, both times he visits Sally and her unnamed brother in the stories, he creates chaos in their house and the whole book is spent trying to clean up his mess before Mother returns.

However, recently, the real problem dawned on me: I don’t like these stories because the Cat in the Hat is a predator and the books send the wrong message about how children should handle being victimized.

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Sally and her brother are too young to be left home alone. Dr. Seuss doesn’t tell us their ages, but they appear to be under 10. While their parents are gone, the Cat in the Hat appears wearing a hypnotic-looking red and white striped top hat. In the first book, he walks right into the house and tells the children that he’s going to show them some tricks. Then he wreaks havoc, unleashing two “Things” which run around trashing the house. The boy summons his strength to tell the Cat to stop when their pet fish spots the children’s mother on her way home. The Cat quickly cleans up the house with a high tech contraption and disappears before Mother walks in the door.

(Photo: U.S. Navy)

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