Cover image for My cat, Spit McGee
My cat, Spit McGee
Morris, Willie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [1999]

Physical Description:
141 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PS3563.O8745 Z47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Concord Library PS3563.O8745 Z47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Anna M. Reinstein Library PS3563.O8745 Z47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The author describes life with a strong-willed cat named Spit McGee, exploring the dramatic ways that Spit has transformed his household and offering a close-up look at cats and their behavior, resourcefulness, and character.

Author Notes

Willie Morris is the author of "North Toward Home", "New York Days", "My Dog Skip", "My Cat Spit McGee", and numerous other works of fiction & nonfiction. As the imaginative and creative editor of "Harper's Magazine" in the 1960s, he published such writers as William Styron, Gay Talese, David Halberstam, and Norman Mailer. He was a major influence in changing our postwar literary & journalistic history. He died in August 1999 at the age of sixty-four.

(Bowker Author Biography) Willie Morris, 1934 - 1999 William Weaks Morris was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1934 to a family of storytellers. He graduated valedictorian of his high school class in 1952 and went on to attend the University of Texas in Austin. He was the editor of their newspaper the Daily Texan. He continued his education as a Rhodes Scholar studying history at Oxford University.

Morris was the editor of the liberal weekly newspaper, Texas Observer, from 1960-62. He was associate editor of Harper's magazine in 1963 and then became their youngest editor-in-chief, in1967. Morris turned Harper's into one of the most influential magazines in the country, attracting contributions from well-known writers, but because of editorial disputes, he quit in 1971. His leaving caused mass resignations of most of Harper's contributing editors. In 1980, Morris returned to Mississippi as writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Morris' publications included nonfiction, fiction, children's books and essay collections. "North Toward Home" (1967) was a bestseller and received the prestigious Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award for nonfiction and was a selection of the Literary Guild. "Yazoo: Integration in a Deep-Southern Town" (1971) was published not long after a difficult divorce. The book tells how a Deep-Southern town is affected by forced integration of the public schools. "Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood" (1971) and "Good Old Boy and the Witch of Yazoo" (1989) are two of the children's classics by Morris. His fiction novel "The Last of the Southern Girls" (1973) tells of a Southern debutante who goes to Washington D.C. In 1996, Morris received the third annual Richard Wright Medal for Literary Excellence.

On August 2, 1999, Willie Morris died of a heart attack in Jackson, Mississippi. He was almost finished with a project he was working on with his son about Mississippi's history and future.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The former editor in chief of Harper's magazine follows his 1995 boy-and-his-dog memoir, My Dog Skip, with an equally moving account of the cat he owned in adulthood, who traveled under the name Spit McGee. Of course, one does not "own" a cat, and Morris "owns up" to that fact as well as the fact that until he fell under the spell of Spit McGee, he did not consider himself a cat person in the least. But it was Morris "who actually delivered him at birth, and [has] saved his life four times." Now Spit is eight years old, and he and Morris are pretty tight. Morris talks about the entire story of their association and muses over typical feline traits, such as their dining habits and their adoration of new things to explore, and he makes general comments on feline-human history. Like the previous book about his dog, this one is particularly poignant without being maudlin. You've read pet books before but never one as meaningfully or even beautifully written as this one and its predecessor. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Morris named his cat Spit McGee after a mischievous, resourceful boy in one of the children's books he wrote. All white with one blue eye and one golden eye, Spit disproves the erroneous belief that a cat with two different-colored eyes is born deaf: his keen ears "could pick up dinner conversations in Memphis two hundred miles away." A quirky iconoclast, Spit will win the hearts of both cat lovers and those who are cat-neutral, in this enjoyable sequel to My Dog Skip, an account of the fox terrier of the author's boyhood that was made into a movie. Even cat haters may come around after meeting this playful, cranky and clever individualist who often sleeps on his back with all four legs sticking straight up. Morris, a novelist and former creative director of Harper's magazine, whose books include Faulkner's Mississippi and The Ghosts of Medgar Evers, once despised cats and almost broke off an engagement after his fianc‚e announced that she intended to get a kitten. With self-deprecating humor and Southern charm, he charts his metamorphosis from ailurophobe to "valet, butler, and menial" of Spit, now eight years old, and a menagerie that at one time expanded to nine cats, but now totals three. As Spit and the author take automobile jaunts around Mississippi and converse together, Morris doesn't ask the reader to dote on his cat as much as he and his wife do; instead, he uses his intense relationship to probe the universals of cat psychology and behavior. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Morris follows up his popular My Dog Skip with this paean to the one cat he came to love. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



I would be sitting in my chair at the house at Northside and Normandy and his habit was to approach the chair, position himself between my feet and look up longingly at me. Then he would climb my leg into my lap. A dozen or more times a night he would do this. That was when I started trying seriously to talk to him, as he sat in my lap on these evenings. I would talk to him about my dogs Skip and Pete, or what I had done that day, or an Atlanta Braves game I was watching on TV, and he would stare at me, and blink his eyes, and make the incomprehensible movements of his tail and whiskers. This might suggest how radically far I had come, to be actually trying to converse with a kitten. Then one night after playing outdoors, he did not come home. He was gone for several hours. I had read somewhere of the high mortality rates of kittens and young cats: killed by dogs, run over, lost far from home, wounded by sadistic Homo sapiens. We had purposefully decided to let him, as with his mother, Rivers Applewhite, go outdoors on his own, and now I was disturbed by that decision. He had almost died at birth, and then most certainly would have done so two weeks later had it not been for Clinic Cat, and this now was the third of a succession of traumas we would have with him over time. I walked from house to house in the neighborhood. I got in the car and roamed the vicinity looking for him. I remembered with lucid anathema how Skip had disappeared in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1944, and Pete in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1982, and I wanted none of that now. When I was getting down to writing about this, the Cat Woman reminded me of the episode in searing particulars: "You wouldn't speak to me. You told me it was my fault because I'd gotten you involved with a damned cat and you couldn't deal with him. You said you didn't begin to understand cats and were sick and tired of them. You closed yourself in your room. Just like anytime anything happened to one of our cats later on, you were nuts. And you, the cat hater! We'd given up on Spit. Late that night, we were crying and discussing all the details of his short little life." And then, right in that instant, we heard a faint noise outside the front window. It sounded like meeow. I went to the window. And there was Spit McGee. Excerpted from My Cat Spit McGee by Willie Morris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1 Always a Dog Manp. 3
2 How I Hated Cats!p. 11
3 Falling in Love--and a Dire Confessionalp. 19
4 Along Comes Spit McGeep. 32
5 "Cats Ain't Dogs"p. 46
6 Unforeseen Hazardsp. 61
7 A Calico Waifp. 75
8 An Old House by a Creekp. 84
9 "How Can You Have a Cat?"p. 98
10 Private Journeyings with Spitp. 103
11 The Generationsp. 129

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