Soft Kitty facts for kids
"Soft Kitty" is a children's song, popularized by the characters Sheldon and Penny in the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory, and which elsewhere may be rendered as "Warm Kitty". According to claims in a copyright lawsuit, the words to "Warm Kitty" were written by Edith Newlin.
In The Big Bang Theory, the song is described by Sheldon as a song sung by his mother when he is ill. The lyrics on The Big Bang Theory are: "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur! Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr!" A scene in an episode of Young Sheldon, the prequel series to The Big Bang Theory, depicts the origin of the song. This aired on February 1, 2018, and shows Sheldon's mother Mary singing the song to her son, who is suffering with the flu.
Versions of the song have been released by Australian children's performer Patsy Biscoe and by the long-running ABC children's program Play School, which predates The Big Bang Theory and has the lyrics reversed, instead of going: "Warm kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur. Sleepy kitty, happy kitty, purr purr purr." The song remains part of Play School's catalog of children's songs regularly performed on the program: the show's presenters occasionally perform the song for their young viewers.
By Christmas 2011, "Soft Kitty" merchandise—such as a plush stuffed singing Soft Kitty toy or T-shirt with The Big Bang Theory version of the lyrics—could be purchased.
In December 2015, the heirs of Edith Newlin filed a lawsuit against the various companies associated with The Big Bang Theory, claiming that the words and music to the song appeared in the book Songs for the Nursery School published in 1937 by Willis Music, based on a poem by Newlin; the copyright to the book was renewed in 1964. The website for Willis Music states:
In 1937 we published a book called Songs for the Nursery School and we sold tens of thousands of copies. It is a hardbound book of over 150 songs for children. The book was written by Laura Pendleton MacCarteney. In that book on page 27 is 'Warm Kitty'.... Warner Brothers and I worked together to secure the rights for the show The Big Bang Theory and they have been using the song ever since.
The suit by Newlin's daughters, on the other hand, claimed that they held the copyright. Furthermore, they alleged that they did not authorize the use of the lyrics, that Willis Music did not have permission to authorize others to use the lyrics, and that the lyrics had been used not only in the television series but on various kinds of program-associated merchandise without proper permission.
On March 27, 2017, US District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald dismissed the suit, holding that the plaintiffs had not shown that they held a copyright on their mother's lyrics. Applying section 24 of the Copyright Act of 1909, a provision that Buchwald characterized as "hardly a model of clarity", the court found that Willis Music's renewal in 1964 of its registration for Songs for the Nursery School did not also renew Newlin's copyright for "Warm Kitty".
Soft Kitty Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.