Literary Cats

from poetry to mystery novels:
cats in literature

Indeed, literary cats have captured the imagination of cat lovers and readers everywhere. It seems like cats have left their paw-mark on the world of literature for posterity.

Cats have mystified and inspired many a writer. Felines have been the protagonists in so many stories. They have inspired songs and poems. They have been heroes and villains, angels and witches, friends and enemies. What is it about cats that stirs so many emotions?

Below you will find a small sample of literary cats.

Andre Norton’s cats. Lots of cats appear in Mr. Norton’s books, including: Catseye, Fur Magic, and The Mark of the Cat.

Dick Whittington’s cat. This English folk tale tells the story of a poor orphaned boy named Dick Whittington. He becomes a very rich merchant and eventually becomes Lord Mayor of London. Dick owes a big part of his success to his cat’s skills.

Dinah. She's Alice’s cat in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Crookshanks. Hermione Granger’s cat in the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling.

Ginger. This orange cat appears in one of the books of The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis.

Kitty. The pet cat of the Ingalls family. It graces the pages of the Little House on the Prairie books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

La Gatomaquia. This poem, penned by Spanish poet Lope de Vega, tells the story of three cats entangled in a love triangle: Micifuz, Marramaquiz, and Zapaquilda.

Orlando, the orange tabby from Orlando, the Marmalade Cat by Kathleen Hale (1898-2000).

Pluto, the cat in "The Black Cat" a short story, by Edgar Allan Poe, in which the author explores the dark side of human emotions, the psychology of guilt, and the horror of crime.

Puss in Boots. The exact origins of this beloved fairy tale are not known as several variations have been written. The best-known version was written by French writer Charles Perrault (1628-1703).

Skippyjon Jones. A Siamese kitten, he’s the protagonist of the series of children’s books by the same name. Judith Byron Schachner is the author of this popular book series.

Socks, a cat in the book Socks by Beverly Cleary (1916).

The Cat that Walked by Himself, which appears in Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. This tale narrates how cats have kept their independent spirit even when living side by side with humans.

"The Cat Who…" – This is a series of mystery novels written by Lilian Jackson Braun in which two Siamese cats (Ko-ko and Yum-yum) play an important role.

The cat in The Owl and the Pussycat, a song by Edward Lear (1817-1888).

The cats in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the famous cat poem by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965). Here's a list of these wonderful literary cats: Admetus, Alonzo, Augustus, Bill Bailey, Bombalurina, Bustopher Jones, Cat Morgan, Coricopat, Demeter, Electra, George, Gilbert, The Great Rumpus Cat, Griddlebone, Growltiger, Grumbuskin, Gus (a.k.a. Asparagus), James, Jellylorum, Jennyanydots, Jonathan, Macavity, Mr. Mistoffelees, Mungojerrie, Munkustrap, Old Deuteronomy, Oopsa Cat (aka James Buz-James), Peter, Plato, Quaxo, Rum Tum Tugger, The Rumpelteazer, Skimbleshanks, The Railway Cat,Tumblebrutus, and Victoria.

The Cheshire Cat. The mischievous, mysterious, whimsical cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

The Cat in the Hat. The main character in the book by the same name authored by Dr. Seuss.

The cat in Undercover Cat by Gordon and Mildred Gordon. Two movies were based on the book: That Darn Cat (1965) and its remake by the same name in 1997.

The literary cats of Beatrix Potter (English author and illustrator -1866-1943), including Tom Kitten, Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit (his mom), and his siblings Moppet and Mittens (from The Tale of Tom Kitten and Roly Poly Pudding), Ginger (from The Tale of Ginger and Pickles), Susan (from The Tale of Little Pig Robinson)

Thomasina, the feline protagonist in The Three Lives of Thomasina, by American novelist Paul Gallico (1897-1976). There was a movie version of the book, too. Gallico also wrote The Poseidon Adventure.

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Writers and their love of cats

Many writers have been avid cat lovers. Here’s a partial list of well-known authors and their not-so-famous literary cats (in bold):

Jorge Luis Borges (Argentinian writer, 1899-1986) and Beppo.

Emily Bronte (English novelist, 1818-1848) had Tiger.

Lord Byron (English poet, 1788-1824) shared many happy moments with Beppo.

T.S. Eliot (American poet, 1888-1965) was inspired by Tantomile and Wiscus.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (American writer, 1896-1940) had Chopin.

Paul Gallico (American author, 1897-1976) received inspiration from Chin and Chilla.

Thomas Hardy (English novelist, 1840-1928) shared his life with Cobby.

Ernest Hemingway (American writer, 1899-1961) had many cats, one of which was Thruster.

Victor Hugo (French writer, 1802-1885) had Chanoine and Gavroche, among others.

Georges Sand (French novelist, 1804-1876) enjoyed Minou’s feline company.

Mark Twain (the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, American author and humorist, 1835-1910) had several cats, including Blatherskite, Stray Kit, Sin, Satan, Appollinaris, Bambino, and Zoroaster.

H.G. Wells (English writer, 1866-1946) shared his life with Mr. Peter Wells.

Tennessee Williams (American playwright, 1911-1983) enjoyed the company of Topaz.

Other writers who have also had cats include: Robert Graves, Ray Bradbury and William S. Burroughs.

Literary cats - Gift ideas

I hope you enjoyed this partial list of cats in literature. Do you have a favorite literary cat?

It goes without saying that the books and stories presented here make wonderful gifts for cat lovers who also love a good read. And as mentioned before, many of the books have been adapted for the big screen, so you may also give the gift of a movie based on cat literature.

Cat Poetry Books

Do you love poetry? Cat poems will surely lift your spirits. Purr, by James Servin, makes a great choice. Another delightful book of cat poems is Bedtime Stories and Poems for Cat Lovers, by Pamela and Larry Leónard.

Related topics

The Cat in the Hat

The Cheshire Cat

Magical cat names

Warrior Cats - The Novel Series

Lyrics to Memory from Cats

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