Mog The Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr Analysis

Mog The Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr cover

Mog The Forgetful Cat is the story that introduced Mog to young readers at the beginning of the 1970s. You’ll see from the illustrations that this is a book of its time, with 1970s fashion and a traditional nuclear family set-up, including a population that, compared to modern day London, is overwhelmingly white. If there is a spectrum of personification when it comes to animals in picturebooks, Mog is still very much cat rather than person, but Judith Kerr manages to convey the idea that she indeed knows exactly what goes on in cat’s world — what cats worry about, what they dream about and what their main concerns must be.


Perhaps the man will let me in. Perhaps he will give me my supper.
Perhaps the man will let me in. Perhaps he will give me my supper.

This story is mostly a character sketch of a mischievous cat called Mog. Mog’s mischievousness is reframed as forgetfulness. She doesn’t ‘steal’ an egg at breakfast time; she ‘forgets’ she only has eggs as treats. This lends a gentleness to the character, and allows young readers to empathise. The plot of the story takes off after Mog is shut outside for being a nuisance. It just so happens that a burglar arrives that night. Mog frightens the burglar, who makes a noise by dropping something, thus awakening the family who are able to call the police to apprehend the baddie. Mog is now a hero.


The burglar in this story is an archetypical comic character dressed in a raccoon mask and striped prison uniform. He is smaller in stature than the policeman who comes to apprehend him. Rather than being locked up in handcuffs, the burglar even holds the policeman’s cup of tea while the policeman makes notes on a pad. This comic representation of intruders makes this story a perfectly safe going-to-bed book.

Burglar Holds Tea

Though this book is not an early reader, the ‘voice’ of Mog is depicted in short, simple and repetitive sentences to suggest a naivety to a creature whose thoughts are probably less complex than those of a human. In effect, this turns the Mog series into books appropriate for emergent readers.

Dream sequences are common in the work of Judith Kerr. Sometimes she mutes the colours. In this book she tells the readers: ‘Debbie had a dream. It was a bad dream. It was a dream about a tiger.’


Judith Kerr seems to use a mixture of black line filled with vibrant ink washes, but also makes use of either crayon or coloured pencil to achieve more muted backgrounds and dream sequences. The lines of the coloured pencil give these pictures a naivety — they seem to be done with the same materials a child would own.

The faces of the characters are representational rather than serving to make them unique, with a single line for a nose, black dots for eyes and a series of lines and circles for mouths. This way of drawing characters allows a wider range of readers to see themselves in this family, and also makes Mog, who has a similarly simplistic face, to really look like one of the family. Mog’s many emotions are depicted by changing the shape of her eyes.

One convention of picturebooks — utilised often throughout Judith Kerr’s books — is the convention of placing multiple scenes on a single page where there is much action, versus a single scene covering an entire page or double spread when the pacing of the story takes on a more contemplative mood. Below, many things happen in quick succession. There is a little ground colour to suggest ‘grounded’ characters (rather than floating through space), but other than that, the background is white.

Mog The Forgetful Cat Action Pages


This is the first of the Mog series of books, of which there are 17.

Published  in 1970, the next in the series didn’t come out for another six years. (Mog’s Christmas.) The rest of the series came out more regularly all through the 1980s and 1990s. The last of the series (Goodbye, Mog) came out in 2002.

Judith Kerr based the house/setting/family characters very much upon her own family.

In 2012, HarperCollins released Mog The Forgetful Cat as a universal app on the iTunes store. But they seem to have stopped adapting the Mog series as book apps, and perhaps released this one as a marketing experiment. The app allows readers to record their own narration.

Mog App

Judith Kerr’s Wikipedia page


Another story in which a family pet is rejected, then saves the day by ‘catching’ a robber is Walter The Farting Dog. This time, the dog gases the burglars out with his rancid flatulence.

published 2001
published 2001


This is an cosy home intruder book. Can you think of other examples and see what they all have in common?


THEFTS from Baughman’s Type and Motif Index of the Folktales of England and North America by Ernest Warren Baughman 1966.


On paper, things look fine. Sam Dennon recently inherited significant wealth from his uncle. As a respected architect, Sam spends his days thinking about the family needs and rich lives of his clients. But privately? Even his enduring love of amateur astronomy is on the wane. Sam has built a sustainable-architecture display home for himself but hasn’t yet moved into it, preferring to sleep in his cocoon of a campervan. Although they never announced it publicly, Sam’s wife and business partner ended their marriage years ago due to lack of intimacy, leaving Sam with the sense he is irreparably broken.

Now his beloved uncle has died. An intensifying fear manifests as health anxiety, with night terrors from a half-remembered early childhood event. To assuage the loneliness, Sam embarks on a Personal Happiness Project:

1. Get a pet dog

2. Find a friend. Just one. Not too intense.




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