The History of Catmas Carols & Hanukcats

This week, we’re excited to have Laurie Loughlin guest posting on the blog. Laurie is the author of Catmas Carols and Hanukcats, which include feline renditions of Christmas carols and traditional songs from Hannukah, Passover, and more. Read on for her post, and check out the brand-new editions of the books, illustrated by Gemma Correll!

I have been parodying song lyrics since childhood. One holiday season in the late 1980s, I was listening to holiday music while putting out decorations and watching my cats tussle on the living room rug, and I started thinking about “Santa Claws.” I wrote a song parody, which my cats sent to their relatives and friends. Everyone loved it, so I continued the practice for 4 years. It finally occurred to me that these parodies from a cat’s point of view might make a cute book.

Luckily, Chronicle Books agreed, and Catmas Carols was born. I quickly completed 20 parodies, half of which were in the public domain and half of which were still under copyright. When I sought permission to parody from those copyright holders, almost all refused. So, with only 2 weeks left before the book had to go to the printer, I scrambled to find 10 more songs in the public domain that I could parody. This was not easy, as most of the songs we know and love were written in the 1900s and are still under copyright. (This is also the reason why there hasn’t been a Catmas Carols 2, Catmas Carols 3, etc.) Obviously, I did find the songs and write the parodies.

When Chronicle first released Catmas Carols in 1993, it made the New York Times Bestseller list. What a thrill! At my local bookstore, it ranked #16, in between books by then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II! The first edition of Catmas Carols was so popular it remained in print for 15 years.

The success of Catmas Carols spawned Hanukcats. Because most of the originals were folk songs written in Hebrew, choosing which to parody was quite an adventure, requiring multiple research efforts. This was pre-email and was accomplished via letters, FAXes and the occasional long distance phone call taking time differences into account, as one source was the Jewish Music Research Centre at Hebrew University in Jerusalem!

I am so happy that Chronicle has published these new editions of Catmas Carols and Hanukcats. Whichever holidays are yours, my wish for you is that you get to celebrate them with your cats!

Download a song from Catmas Carols or Hanukcats! Just click on the images below to download and print a holiday song from Facebook.

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