While his current popularity is based on the Antonio Banderas-voiced character in the Shrek films, the tale of Puss in Boots seems to derive from 15th century Italian oral folklore. The helper-animal motif is quite common in fairytales from around the world, but Puss in Boots is arguably the most well-known of these types of stories. Here are ten lessons that kids can learn from Puss in Boots and his story.

  1. Quick Wits Are a Treasure – Though the miller’s son didn’t inherit much in the way of worldly goods when he took possession of the cat that was his legacy, he soon discovered that he’d been left the most potentially-valuable part of his father’s estate in the quick-witted feline that would make his fortune.
  2. Don’t Make Hasty Judgments – While he wisely chose to trust the cat and his ability to provide for them, the son who inherited Puss initially planned to eat the cat, believing that was all he was good for. This warning against making snap judgments is a strong one for kids.
  3. Loyalty is a Virtue – Puss could have very easily disappeared to make his own way in the world; he would have undoubtedly been quite successful. However, his loyalty to the master that inherited him sets a great example for kids about the importance of being a loyal friend themselves.
  4. The Most Valuable Things Can Come in Humble Packages – Few people would expect an everyday feline to be such a treasure, proving to readers that sometimes, the most valuable things in life are hidden within humble wrappings.
  5. Dress For Success – In preparation to create their fortunes, Puss knew that he would have to dress in a manner that helped people to take him seriously. This lesson about taking pride in your appearance is an important one for kids of all ages.
  6. A Way With Words Can Save Your Hide – The necessity of learning to speak clearly and to think on their feet is a lesson that kids can pick up very quickly from Puss in Boots. The survival of Puss and his master both depended on his ability to charm those he encountered.
  7. Invest in the Long-Term – Instead of expending his energy on plots that would pay off in the short term, Puss set his sights on the grand prize of a palace to live in and a Princess for his master to wed. This attention to detail and foresight are skills that kids should cultivate, and may be inspired to do so by Puss in Boots.
  8. Show Gratitude to Those that Assist You – The son who inherited Puss and reaped the benefits of his quick wits showed his gratitude by providing Puss with a comfortable life in the palace, where he did as he pleased for the rest of his days. This show of gratitude can help kids understand the importance of showing their own appreciation for those who help them.
  9. Brains Usually Triumph Over Brawn – Puss knew that he would not be able to best the Ogre in a physical fight, so he tricked him into a shape that would be more manageable for him. In this way, as often happens, brains beats brawn and kids learn a message about outsmarting those that would try to beat them with violence.
  10. Drinking Affects Your Decision-Making Skills – The king’s critical thinking skills have been affected by the “five or six glasses” that he drank with the Marquis; perhaps causing him to hastily agree to the marriage of his daughter to a relative stranger. The dangers of drinking and the effects of alcohol on decision-making skills is framed in a way that is suitable for kids, but still makes the crucial point.

Buss in Boots seems to have been first published by fairytale master Charles Perrault in his 1697 Histoires ou Contes du temps passe. Variations appear in many different languages and cultures throughout the years, though the protagonist seems to be female in oral traditions.