All kinds of love are valid on Valentine’s Day, including our affection for our furry friends. If cat cuddles and curling up with a book are your idea of the purrfect date, then take a journey with me through this list of literary works featuring cat companions. Whether it be witty bordering on snarky, loyal ‘til the end, or possessing magical knowledge or power, a cat on the character’s team is sure to make for a good book.
1. “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allen Poe In honor of Friday the 13th, which is tomorrow, the first two works on this list feature black cats. To me, the role they play in superstition and folklore makes black cats even more special. This short story by Poe is all about the narrator’s relationship with his pet cat Pluto. At first they are good friends, but then the narrator turns abusive. The cat becomes a symbol of his spurts of violence and associated guilt. In fact, the cat’s cries alert the authorities to the narrator’s worst crime at the end of the story, having mysteriously ended up behind the brick wall built to conceal the evidence. This black cat may be inauspicious for the narrator, but when it comes to justice for his victim, we’re lucky the cat was there to bring the truth to light.
2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman The black cat in this story, who has no name, is without a doubt my favorite character. Although a resident of the real world, he possesses the power to cross between the our world and Other and seems to have mysterious knowledge about how the Other World works. He guides Coraline through her mission to thwart the Other Mother, although his advice is peppered with sarcasm and disdain. Despite (or because of) his constant allusions to the superiority of cats over other creatures, including silly humans, his banter is utterly amusing. If cats could talk here in the real world as they can in the Other World, this is exactly the kind of attitude I would expect them to have.
3. Sabriel by Garth Nix If you haven’t already read this classic fantasy series, I highly recommend it. Sabriel has come into the hereditary position of Abhorson, essentially a kind of good necromancer who combats the works of the evil ones. Throughout her journey, she is accompanied by Mogget, an ancient magical spirit trapped in the body of a white cat and bound to assist the Abhorsen. Mogget is extremely knowledgeable but frustratingly cryptic. Furthermore, he is actually extremely dangerous, as his magical collar is the only thing restraining him from murdering Sabriel. Mysterious, wise, and powerful, complete with quippy one-liners, Mogget is all you could ask for in a cat companion. If only you could trust him…
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling Crookshanks is one of my favorite magical creatures in Harry Potter, even if he only really gets to be in the spotlight in Book 3. Being half kneazle, Crookshanks is even more intelligent than your average cat, and discovers the secrets of Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black long before our trusty trio do. I find it only fitting that Hermione’s pet should be the epitome of feline intellect. Crookshanks knows who is trustworthy and who is not, and can accomplish tasks like stealing the passwords to the Gryffindor tower. Like the cat in Coraline, Crookshanks at times acts as a guide, leading the trio through the Whomping Willow and into the Shrieking Shack.
5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carol If I asked you to name a cat of Carol’s invention, you’d probably say the Cheshire cat. But there is another cat closer to Alice’s heart: Dinah. Dinah is Alice’s pet cat in real life and her best friend. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, she expresses concern over whether Dinah will be fed while she is down the rabbit hole and constantly mentions her cat to her new Wonderlandian acquaintances (which occasionally lands her in trouble, as many of them fear such a four-legged predator). Dinah and her kittens play a larger role in Through the Looking Glass, as they inspire many of the characters in Alice’s adventure. One can easily imagine Dinah as Alice’s confidant, the recipient of fantastic stories of Alice’s dreamland adventures. Perhaps if you doze off while petting your kitty this weekend, you might find yourself on your own epic adventure, who knows?
Have you got a favorite fictional cat? Do you think kitty kisses, pounces, and purrs are the best way to spend your V-Day? Let us know in the comments below!