Book Reviews,  Seasons

The Cat Who Came For Christmas by Cleveland Amory | Book Review

The Cat Who Came For Christmas by Cleveland Amory | Book Review The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory
Genres: Animals, Non-Fiction
Original Publication Date: 1988
Source: I purchased this book
Find the Author: Website, Goodreads, Amazon

‘Twas the night before Christmas when a bedraggled white feline entered the heart — and home — of Cleveland Amory. To say it is a friendly takeover is an understatement. For the cat who came for Christmas is clearly of the Independent Type, and Cleveland Amory, cranky or not, is a pushover where animals are concerned.

Cleveland Amory’s The Cat Who Came For Christmas is the delightful holiday tale of Amory and his beloved feline, Polar Bear.

It was Christmas Eve 1977 and Amory, a well-known Boston Brahmin, society writer, and former TV Guide critic had established The Fund for Animals and was deeply involved in animal rights issues.

Amory Meets The Cat On Christmas Eve

On a rescue mission, he meets Polar Bear, a stray who is living in deplorable conditions. The cat is living in a Manhattan parking garage and people are throwing things at him and abusing him.

Polar Bear immediately touches his heart in an unusual way. Amory loved all animals, but had never been owned by a cat before – he was a “dog man.”

But that cold Christmas Eve changed all of that. He seems to know instinctively that this small, half-starved creature will be important to him. Amory and Polar Bear were perfect for each other.

As Amory says:

To anyone who has ever been owned by a cat, it will come as no surprise that there are all sorts of things about your cat you will never, as long as you live, forget.

Not the least of these is your first sight of him or her.

That the first sight of mine, however, would ever be memorable seemed, at the time, highly improbable. For one thing, I could hardly see him at all. It was snowing.

Amory wasn’t even supposed to keep him, not even temporarily.

Polar Bear didn’t trust anyone after his previous cruel treatment by humans.

Polar Bear spends most of his first few days sleeping and hiding.

But after a few days of uneasy truce, Polar Bear realized that Amory would never hurt him and that they could live together.

They became best friends.


I really love this book. The sometimes comical interactions between Amory and Polar Bear are fascinating.

Even though Amory was devoted to saving animals, he had never been owned by a cat before and had a LOT to learn.

The book can also be very funny as Amory tries to see things from a cat’s point of view.

It is a sweet story and makes for wonderful Christmas reading.

Amory considered himself a “curmudgeon” and he and Polar Bear were happy curmudgeons together.

The book was a huge bestseller upon its original publication in 1987 and has been republished numerous times, with the most recent edition in October 2013.

Two sequels were published:

The Cat and the Curmudgeon, 1990:

Curmudgeon is about the continuing relationship between Amory and Polar Bear, especially after fame has struck.

Polar Bear now goes on book tours and stays with Amory in hotel rooms. They are now a fine team.

The Cat and the Curmudgeon book cover

The Best Cat Ever (1993) is actually mostly about Amory’s interesting life and not so much about Polar Bear, although it does have the very sad but inevitable conclusion to their enduring friendship.

The Best Cat Ever book cover

Or you can get all three volumes in one giant hardcover book, Cleveland Amory’s Compleat Cat.

Compleat Cat book cover

For some reason, these books are not available for Kindle – yet.

Further Reading

If you’re in a Christmas mood, you may also want to check out a Merry Classical Christmas.

You may also want to read my posts about cats or Christmas:

The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family by Laura Schenone | Book Review

The Fur Person by May Sarton.

Love Saves The Day by Gwen Cooper.

Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat by Gwen Cooper.

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World.

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan.

Merry Classical Christmas!

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Please also check out Christmas memories from my New Jersey blog!

Christmas at Kip’s Castle 2023 | Verona and Montclair, New Jersey

Christmas at Kingsland Manor | Nutley, New Jersey

Christmas at Zenas Crane Homestead | West Caldwell, New Jersey

The Haunted Deserted Village of Feltville and the Enchanted Forest 2023 | Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

Delicious Orchards 2023 | Colts Neck, New Jersey

First Presbyterian Church of Oxford at Hazen and the Spooky Graveyard 2023 | Belvidere, New Jersey

The Historic Cooper Gristmill | Chester Township, New Jersey

Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital Is About To Be Torn Down 2015 | Morris Plains, New Jersey

Thank you for reading The Literary Lioness!

About Cleveland Amory

Cleveland Amory (1917-1998) was an American writer and animal rights advocate. He was the author of a number of best-selling books and founder in 1967 of the Fund for Animals, a New York-based animal-protection agency, which he served as unpaid president for 31 years.

I love books, writing, film, and television.

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