The Day Nobody Would Listen. How Sally and Conrad Tried to Stop the Cat in the Hat

Introducing the Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat is a classic children’s book written by Dr. Seuss in 1957. The story follows two children, Sally and her unnamed brother, who are visited by the eccentric Cat in the Hat while their mother is away. The Cat brings his mischievous antics into the house, despite the children’s attempts to keep the house clean and orderly in their mother’s absence. Also featured is the family pet, a witty goldfish, who repeatedly tries to warn the children about the trouble-making Cat.

The Cat in the Hat himself is the epitome of mischief. He enters the house uninvited, carrying a big red and white striped hat and a box full of crazy tricks and games for the children. The Cat creates chaos across the house with no regard for manners or safety. Throughout it all, he tries to charm Sally and her brother into playing along through his silly rhymes and dazzling hat tricks.

According to Wikipedia, the Cat in the Hat was Seuss’s first book written using 225 vocabulary words from a school primer. This allowed young readers to practice reading simple, rhyming words while enjoying Seuss’s imaginative story and illustrations.

The Cat’s Mischievous Nature

The Cat in the Hat is known for his mischievous and troublesome nature. As soon as the cat arrives, he starts creating chaos in the house. He brings in his accomplices, Thing One and Thing Two, and they proceed to make a huge mess – bumping, thumping, and disrupting the orderly home.

“They ran around on the floor, in the tub, and outdoors! They tipped over tables and chairs, books and dishes and glasses. They knocked down the fan and they made fly kites, blankets, pillows, the records and plates,” reports one article on the cat’s antics. The cat turns the house upside down with his crazy hijinks and disregard for rules or order.

The fish looks on in horror as the cat and things go wild. They make a tremendous mess of everything, clearly showing the cat’s mischievous and disruptive tendencies. The children are swept up in the madness, but the fish knows from the start that this cat means trouble.

Sally and Her Brother

The story begins on a cold and rainy day when Sally and her unnamed brother are at home by themselves. Their mother has left them under the care of their pet fish while she is out running errands (Character Guide). The two children are bored just sitting around the house with nothing to do. Sally is depicted as the well-behaved older sister, cautious and reluctant to take risks. Her younger brother is more adventurous and defiant.

With their mother away, the children are starting to get restless. Sally tries to entertain herself by sewing, while her brother complains “This is no fun at all!” (The Complete List of Cat in the Hat Movie Characters). They wish something exciting would happen to brighten up their dreary rainy day at home alone.

The Fish Tries to Warn Them

When the troublemaking Cat in the Hat first arrives at Sally and her brother’s house, their pet fish is immediately wary. As described in this blog post, the fish recognizes right away that the Cat is up to no good with his “tricks.” The fish cautions the children not to engage with the Cat, saying “No! No! Make that cat go away! Tell that Cat in the Hat You do NOT want to play.”

As explained in depth in this literary analysis, the fish acts as the voice of reason throughout the story, repeatedly warning Sally and her brother about the dangers and recklessness of the Cat’s antics. But the children are enchanted by the Cat and ignore the fish’s good advice.

The Kids Ignore the Fish

As the story progresses, the mischievous Cat continues to cause chaos in the house, much to the Fish’s dismay. Despite the Fish’s repeated pleas for the children to stop the Cat, Sally and her brother are too enthralled by the Cat’s magical antics to listen.

“Look at this! Look at this! Look at this NOW!” the Fish shouts as the Cat balances cups, books, and plates on his head and tails (Source). But the children simply laugh and encourage the Cat to perform another trick. They are oblivious to the danger and mess being created.

“This is not good, the Fish states with a frown. “This Cat should not be in the house. He should not be about. He should not be here when your mother is out!” Despite the wisdom in the Fish’s warnings, Sally and her brother are too enthralled with the Cat’s silly games to listen (Source).

The Cat’s Antics Continue

The Cat continues his chaotic antics, making more and more of a mess inside the children’s house. He brings in his helpers Thing One and Thing Two, and they proceed to fly kites indoors, knock paintings off walls, and generally cause mayhem.

As Dr. Seuss writes, “Then he let down the cage and he let out Thing Two! And then they proceeded to do what they do. They put up the kite and right over a chair. They took mother’s new gown and they put it right there.” The Cat makes light of the damage he is causing, treating it as a game.

The mess only gets bigger as the Cat brings in more outrageous props like a big red wood box and a machine that flies kites and balloons around the room. The children are shocked, but the Cat cheerily reassures them “This is good fun, is it not?” Clearly the Cat has no regard for the disorder he is creating.

The Fish Keeps Warning

Despite the Cat causing mayhem around the house, the fish continued trying to reason with Sally and her brother. As the Cat balanced cups, kites, and rakes, the fish warned “You should not be doing that, those things don’t go together! The mother will not like it to find her house is a mess!” (

But Sally and her brother were having too much fun with the Cat and his crazy antics, ignoring the fish’s pleas to stop the cat before he went too far. “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW!” the Cat exclaimed as he rode a ball through the house, but still Sally and her brother paid the fish no mind (

The fish tried again and again to warn the children, but they were too enthralled with the Cat’s circus tricks to listen. The more the fish cautioned them, the more they ignored him and played with the mischievous Cat.

The Cat Leaves

After a long day of crazy antics and mayhem, the Cat in the Hat decides it’s time for him to go. He looks around the house one last time, surveying the huge mess he’s made – toys strewn everywhere, curtains torn down, walls stained with cake. Sally and her brother stand stunned, unsure of what to make of the situation. Just as quickly and mysteriously as he arrived, the Cat picks up his hat, walks out the door and disappears.

“Well, that was unexpected!” says the brother. “He made a huge mess, caused nothing but trouble, and then just left without cleaning anything up!”

Sally nods in agreement. They realize that as fun and exciting as the Cat in the Hat was at first, he ended up wreaking havoc in their home. And now they are left behind to clean up the giant, chaotic mess. The two kids wish they had listened to the Fish from the beginning when he warned them not to let the Cat in.

The Kids Learn a Lesson

After the Cat in the Hat’s antics and despite the Fish’s warnings, Sally and her brother let a stranger wreak havoc in their home while their mother was away. The Cat made a huge mess, acted inappropriately, and put the children in danger. As the story concludes, Sally and her brother realize they should have listened to the Fish from the start. He tried to warn them not to let the mischievous Cat in, but they didn’t listen.

The core moral of the story is to not let in strangers when a parent or trusted adult is not home. As the Fish says, “These Things should not, should not be done. You get no fun out of the things you haven’t undone.” Even though the Cat seems friendly and fun at first, he causes mayhem and leaves Sally and her brother to clean up his mess.

Sources like the Prindle Institute for Ethics note how this classic Dr. Seuss story teaches children important lessons about responsibility and following rules set by parents. No matter how fun or friendly a stranger seems, children should not let them into the home without permission. Sally and her brother learn to listen to trusted caregivers like the Fish who have their best interests at heart.

The Fish Knew Best

From the start, the fish in the household was skeptical of the Cat in the Hat and his antics. As The Cat arrived unannounced and began causing mischief, the fish tried multiple times to warn Sally and her brother that the Cat would only lead to trouble in the house.

As the story progressed, the fish’s warnings proved to be valid. The Cat continuously made huge messes, went against the children’s rules, and put them in precarious situations. All the while, the fish reiterated that the Cat should not be trusted and that his presence would lead to disaster.

In the end, the fish was proven right. After the kids reined in the Cat’s wild behavior, he slyly escaped the house just before their mother arrived home. The Cat left behind all evidence of the chaos he had caused during her absence.

The fish recognized the Cat’s reckless nature from the beginning. While Sally and her brother got swept up in the Cat’s games, the fish could see where it was heading. The fish understood the potential consequences of the Cat’s visit that the children did not initially grasp. In the end, Sally and her brother realized the fish had their best interests in mind all along.

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