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I am looking for a canonical version of the children's poem:

Era uma vez um gato maltês tocava piano e falava francês

To the extent of my understanding of Portuguese, the versions in this video and this one are not the same. In addition, there seem to be a competing poem about gato xadrez.

Is there really a more canonical version or are there many competing variations with approximately equal popularity? Or perhaps there are ones more typical for Portugal and others for Brasil?

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There are tons of these, by color. xadrez by the way means checkered and there are no checkered cats, except in drawings.

Such as in the book Era uma vez um gato xadrez...:

Era uma vez um gato xadrez.
Caiu da janela e foi só uma vez.

Era uma vez um gato azul.
Levou um susto e fugiu para o sul.

Era uma vez um gato vermelho.
Entrou no banheiro e fez cara no espelho.

There are other colors in the book: amarelo, verde, colorido, laranja, marrom, rosa, preto, branco. I don't want to copy every single one. That lady author, Bia Villela, did a great job of the colors and the ditty.

That said, you can make one up.

Era uma vez um gato fofinho, que mal saltava por ser tão gordinho.

[mal + a verb = hardly]

Here is another Portuguese one:

“Era uma vez,

um gato maltês,

tocava piano e falava francês.

Queres que te conte outra vez?”

Education article by Hugo Manuel Soares de Brito.

In Brazil, depending on the location of the speaker, the queres tu form might become queer.

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