Cover of the first edition of The Sly Old Cat

The Sly Old Cat is a picture book by the English author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. Written in 1906, it was to have been the third story published in panoramic format following The Story of Miss Moppet and The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit. Due to complaints from shopkeepers who found the booklets difficult to stock, however, the project was abandoned. Her publisher suggested adding the title to the standard Peter Rabbit library ten years later, but Beatrix Potter declined to complete her illustrations because of her failing eyesight. The story was finally published for the first time in 1971 with Beatrix Potter's rough sketches.

Beatrix Potter wrote The Sly Old Cat for Nellie Warne, the youngest daughter of her publisher Harold Warne. The story, about a cat who invites a rat to a tea party, is written very simply for the benefit of extremely young children.


A sly old cat invites a rat to a tea party. She eats her bread and butter and offers only the crumbs to the rat. She then pours tea for herself. She tells the rat he can have the drops left in the milk jug, but then greedily tips up the jug to drink up the last drops. The rat, afraid the cat will eat him for dessert, jumps on the table and pushes the jug down over the cat's head. The cat runs around the kitchen with her head stuck in the milk jug. The rat drinks her tea and puts a muffin in a paper bag. He takes the muffin home and eats it all in one sitting. The cat manages to break the jug against the leg of the table.

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