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Cool Cats

Cats have been popular since ancient times, so it’s no wonder that they figure prominently in many nursery rhymes and folk songs. Among the most popular are Hey Diddle Diddle with it’s fiddling cat and the cat who visited the queen in London, but here are a few lesser known rhymes that feature felines:

St. Ives is a fishing port in Cornwall, in southwestern England, that is now also a seaside resort known for its artists. Here is a silly nonsense rhyme that is actually a puzzle with two answers:

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives;
Every wife had seven sacks;
Every sack had seven cats;
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?

Naturally, the answer depends on which direction the man with seven wives was traveling, to or from St. Ives! Your little one won’t care – it’s just a fun rhyme to say.

Great A little a is another nonsense rhyme whose sole purpose seems to be introducing the first three letters of the alphabet:

Great A, little a, bouncing B
The cat’s in the cupboard and can’t “see” me!

Higglety Pigglety Pop is yet another nonsense rhyme that’s fun to recite:

Higglety pigglety pop!
The dog has eaten the mop!
The pig’s in a hurry,
The cat’s in a flurry,
Higglety pigglety pop!

Pussy Got the Measles is an old Irish folk song. Folksinger Jean Ritchie added some comforting verses that she recorded in the album Marching Across the Green Grass and Other American Children Game Songs (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings). You can listen to that album on You Tube:

Here are the words to the first (and only original) verse:

Pussy got the measles on the first day of spring,

The first day of spring, the first day of spring,

Pussy got the measles on the first day of spring,

The poor, the poor, the poor wee thing.

Jean Ritchie added additional verses that make a comforting lullaby for a child who isn’t feeling well, about sending for the doctor “with his pills and things” and rocking and singing all night long. The tune and rhythm invite snuggling and rocking your little one in your arms. Why not try it at nap time today?

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