What does Cat's in the Cradle mean?

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Harry Chapin: Cat's in the Cradle Meaning

Song Released: 1974

Covered By: Ugly Kid Joe (1993)

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Cat's in the Cradle Lyrics

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My child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He'd say, "I'm gonna be...


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    May 23rd, 2011 5:27am report

    It depends how you look at things..


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    Apr 18th, 2011 4:11pm report

    The song is about a father letting life pass him by and not being their for his son and seeing his son as a grown man and also stuck in lifes rat race just as he was.


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    Apr 5th, 2011 4:59am report

    thsi song is so pro it is not possible to interpret. just go woth it. it is a great song. don not ruin iit trying to find its meaning

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    Apr 3rd, 2011 4:44am report

    I would argue that it is about learnt behaviour and how important power is. In the song case we see a Dad working hard to provide for the family remember it is 1974 then as the child grows the behaviour is repeated as the exact behaviour displayed to the dad who requires the son in later years and we see the son rejects him as his dad rejected him as a child thinking that immediate family must come first. as quoted in the the lyrics the kids have the flu job is a hassle yet its been sure nice talking to you dad. Yet throughout the song these two have never talked.


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    Feb 28th, 2011 2:38pm report

    This is not about child neglect. It's about the way our society has changed over the years. In days of old, children learned their trade from their fathers. We didn't have mounds of bills because credit cards just got started in the late 60's. It now takes two, if not more incomes, to raise a family. If your working so much, to provide for that child, you will not find the time to spend with him. I don't think dad is happy that his son turned out just like him. He realizes that his son is now going through the same things he did, and the cycle has once again begun. Whose the man on the moon now? His son.


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    Feb 12th, 2011 2:17pm report

    You're all missing the point. The song title says it all. It is about neglect. A cat in the cradle means death to an infant human. The cat will put the tail into the infant's mouth and the child will suffocate. It isn't the cat's fault, it is the parents.

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    Jan 23rd, 2011 1:46am report

    I think the song means that the father never spent time with his son but the son wanted to follow in his footsteps so when the son grew up he had a life of his own just like his dad. This is what I think the song means to me


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    Jan 11th, 2011 1:24am report

    Any way you look at it, the songs basically talks about things coming full circle, the dad probably never realised that his being busy and being away would have negative repercussions. He perhaps felt that it was his place as dad to provide for the family, ...hey the kid went away to college after all! The dad would have seen it as an achievement both as a "responsible" man and father.

    Sadly, most if not all young boys idolise their dads, and herein lies the problem, it's true that nowhere in the song is it written or even implied that the boy grew up to be a better father than his own. His choice to stay at home with his flu-stricken kids could merely be a reflection of the same type of "responsible" act of a father.


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    Jan 4th, 2010 1:05pm report

    little boy is missing his dad's presence. He doesn't feel at home because of that.His heart is empty like his cradle.The cats occupied the cradle because it was left empty.
    In the same way at the end the father is missing his son's presence and feels the same way. Here we can compare cradle with a home. Because the father misses his son's presence he has to share his time with cats at home.
    Here I took cat as a cat to interpret as a wrong thing in a right place.


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    Oct 28th, 2009 10:32pm report

    "The cats in the cradle" A child's game..metaphor: BABY

    "and the silver spoon": Wealth, provider...metaphor: DAD

    "Little boy blue" Metaphor: sad boy

    "man on the moon" Metaphor: distant dad


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    Oct 21st, 2009 10:26pm report

    Love this song. This song give the thought of "goes around comes around"


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    Oct 13th, 2009 10:23pm report

    I think this song is about investments... the young boy wants to spend time with his father and he idealizes him. Over the course of time the son is growing up and the father then wants to spend time with him. Since the young man has no prior frame of reference for who is father is... it is hard for him to see the value of spending time with his dad since his dad did not value the relationship in the beginning. When you make an investment into a relationship the bigger the investment the greater the return will be. I think this is truly saddest for the father. I don't think the son turned out just like his dad, he hopefully saw his dad's failures and learned from them and tried to be a better father to his children. The son reciprocated how much he valued his relationship with father as he perceived his father's value of thier relationship and he matched it. Relationships take work and time and they usually get better the more time that is invested into them.


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    Aug 17th, 2009 8:21am report

    very simply the way he treated his child was the way he was raised and in turn came around full circle. it's some kind of fable or axiom and it was true not only for him but for all fathers who spend every waking minute working or cutting deals in the business world. and eventually whether he makes it or not loses his son along the way and the son walks the same path he did and the old man sees the error he made and in turn has to accept his fate. this was a song for all generations that were and are still to come.


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    Aug 10th, 2009 8:54am report

    In the first two verses we see the son growing up without his father, and the thing he wants more than anything else is to spend time with his father. By the time he's twenty, he's developed a coping mechanism to this life of neglect- he stops wanting to spend time with his father. So now that his father has time for him, he's not interested; he'd rather spend time cruising with his friends. When the son is thirty, married with kids, he comes to realize the folly of this ("love to dad if I could find the time"), but now he doesn't have any time for his father, because his own responsibilities take priority.


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    Nov 25th, 2007 11:47am report

    I have read many interpretations, but find none that clarify the "Cat's in the Cradle" line. My idea is... now that the kids are gone, the family cat is still at home, and the only "baby" mama has to love, so the cat gets to sleep in the empty cradle, and gets all the attention, and is pampered by the lonely mother. Am I close? Does that sound reasonable to anyone else? It sure is the case in my house. Please Help!

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