The Love Cats is a 1983 single by The Cure. It was the band’s first Top 10 hit in the UK, peaking at # 7, and also hit number six in Australia. It later appeared on the compilation album Japanese Whispers. The original UK-only single appears to list the title as The Lovecats, as do various compilations.
At the time the song was written, Robert Smith was very interested in the work of Australian author, Patrick White. According to various sources, Smith was inspired to write The Love Cats after reading White’s novel, The Vivisector (1970), although this claim has never been confirmed by Robert Smith himself (yet).
In the novel, the protagonist, Hurtle, is appalled when his lover’s husband drowns a sack of stray cats. White draws a parallel between the way in which the cats are discarded, and the treatment of certain characters in the book; by extension, the cats symbolize the most innocent and vulnerable members of society, and the casual cruelty with which they sometimes meet their fate.
Robert Smith has later been quoted as saying that the song was initially written as a parody, and that he later distanced himself from the song. In Rock & Folk magazine, Smith said: “The Love Cats is far from being my favorite song: composed drunk, video filmed drunk, promotion made drunk. It was a joke.”
The video (see above) was shot in a mansion which had been “borrowed” from an estate agent who believed they wanted to buy it. In the morning they returned the keys.
This was the first UK Top 10 hit for The Cure.
According to the actress Molly Ringwald, the late director John Hughes worked on a script for a movie based on this song. She recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair that once Hughes had completed The Breakfast Club, “he gave me a mix tape of what the soundtrack was gonna be. Which was pretty much Dave Brubeck, with the last song by Bob Dylan.”
The song was originally called The Love Cats (three separate words), as evidenced by the single cover and twelve-inch label. The singles compilation Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea (vinyl/CD) listed the song as The Love Cats on the tray card and CD, but The Lovecats on the booklet. In 2001, when the Greatest Hits album was released, the song was listed as The Lovecats.
Editor’s Note: Easily in my top 10 of favorite songs by The Cure (ooh, I may need to do a Top 10 of The Cure post soon), this is one of their songs that was a mainstay and a near constant “go to” song that I would slip into mix tapes in the late 80’s. it is one of those songs that needs to be included in any good road trip mix, as it is so fun and sing-a-long-able. It may not be one of Robert Smith’s favorites, but it is one of mine.