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There are many ways How to Argue with a Cat can be taught and integrated with curricula: as a main textbook, a supplementary text, an example of persuasive writing, prompts for debate, prompts for student response papers, and more. The text has ten short lessons that explain rhetorical concepts through examples of cats and humans. Few other books teach rhetoric while simultaneously practicing what they preach through a lively conversational writing style.

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How To Argue With A Cat | Teacher’s Guide | Penguin Random House | Education

-Includes Common Core State Standards-

Teaching Inspiration

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What do your arguments demonstrate?

Find examples and notice how they move through different objectives:






How To Argue With a Cat | book teachers FALLACIES.jpg

Creative Fallacies

What will your class come up with?

Tell us your examples!





Art copyright Natalie Palmer-Sutton. This isn't actually in the book, but lots more of her art is!

Art copyright Natalie Palmer-Sutton. This isn't actually in the book, but lots more of her art is!


Want to get agreement? Be agreeable.

Here is one of the many ways that cats are wiser than people: When a human disagrees with another human, each usually tries to get the other to admit he’s wrong. When a cat disagrees with a human on the other hand, she almost always tries to get what she wants. Cats also understand that one of the best ways to persuade people is to be agreeable. This is a skill that even humans can learn. Agreeability can lead to happier relationships, successful careers, and a more persuasive life. 

Even if you disagree with someone, or your opponent attacks you personally, nod your head and listen. Don’t get angry. And don’t push back against any of his points. Hold your fire.

You often see cats act agreeably.


You: I can’t believe you napped in my new dress!

Cat: [Looks at you and listens politely.]

You: It will take forever to get all the hair out! And I’m due for dinner in half an hour!

Cat: [Blinks.]

You: What am I going to do with you?

Cat: [Does a slow-blink, letting slide the stupidity of your question.]

You: Well, maybe I can use a sticky roller on it.

Cat: [Stretches. Problem solved.]


To take the anger out, say "Yes, and..."

If you have taken an improv class, you know this method. You work with fellow comedians as a team. When someone says something, you don’t argue against it. Instead, you add to it, fleshing out what the other person said. You do this by saying, “Yes, and…” This is one of those rare things humans do better than cats.

Of course, cats don’t need to say “Yes, and…” Instead, they have expressive tails. A gentle thump or wag will disarm your average human opponent.

Because we don’t have tails, we have to practice other methods, like improv, to disarm our human opponents.


School Principal: I looked at your proposal for a dance theme and I think we need to go in another direction. Instead of  “Fist Pump”—what kind of theme is “Fist Pump”?—I think we should call the dance “Under the Sea.” You kids loved “Little Mermaid.” Or was it my generation that loved “Little Mermaid”?

You: “Under the Sea.” Sure, an aquatic theme. We can call it “Fin Pump.”

Boss: Huh? What’s a fin pump?.

You: Right, good point. And it’s better to just call it plain “Fist Pump.”


While this may not work, at least you will have confused the principal for a while. Which is satisfying. A cat can do this just by staring at you or by stretching against your leg. This makes you wonder whether she really got your message—or whether she has a mysterious message of her own.

Groom your opponent.

A cat can take the tension out by licking her opponent. In most cases, humans probably should not do this. Licking an angry person will probably not calm him down. But a small dose of flattery might work.


Principal: I want to know who wrote “Ms. Weiser has hemorrhoids” on her whiteboard.

You: Well…Wow.

Principal: Well?

You: Sorry. I was distracted by your shoes. Those are really cool shoes!

Principal: We’re not here to talk about my shoes! We’re here to talk about my hemor…I mean, Ms. Weiser’s…You know what I mean!


You may still be in trouble. And the principal may see right past your flattery. But he will also shine his shoes tonight, thinking maybe you’re not such a bad kid after all. Assuming you’re a kid. And that you did have something to do with that whiteboard. Which was really mean and you shouldn’t have.