Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Literary Kitties: Cats in Books

Literary Kitties! Doing this has made me realise there are a lot less cats in books than I had originally thought. Maybe I just imagine cats into all the books I read? In the books they are in however, they do get nice lengthy introductions, which seems right. All these cats provide great cattish relief in their stories, even when they play a tiny part, that part is by no means unimportant. There is always, in my opinion, room for a cat-based narrative somewhere in a book. Cats have a very important role in play in magic settings, so it's only right that there be three notable kitties in the Harry Potter series. Angus in the Georgia Nicolson books provides constant comic relief, harassing the neighbours' dogs, ambushing passing legs, spending time in the fridge. I was very pleased Buttercup was given a bigger role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 film, where he entertains all by chasing a torch light in the bunker. So here are some (very long, sorry, but I just loved the full) introductions to literary cats:

Harry Potter:
-Professor McGonagall as a cat. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
"It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar- a cat reading a map. For a second, Mr Dursley didn't realise what he had seen- then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn't a map in sight. What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light. Mr Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back. As Mr Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive- no, looking at the sign; cats couldn't read maps or signs. Mr Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind...
As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw- and it didn't improve his mood- was the tabby cat he'd spotted that morning. It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.
'Shoo!' said Mr Dursley loudly.
The cat didn't move. It just gave him a stern look. Was this normal cat behaviour, Mr Dursley wondered."
-Mrs Norris, Filch's cat. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
"Filch owned a cat called Mrs Norris, a scrawny, dust-coloured creature with bulging, lamp-like eyes just like Filch's. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she'd whisk off for Filch, who'd appear, wheezing, two seconds later. Filch knew the secret passageways of the school better than anyone (except perhaps the Weasley twins) and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him and it was the dearest ambition of many to give Mrs Norris a good kick."
-Crookshanks, Hermione's cat. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
"Ron buckled as something huge and orange came soaring from the top of the highest cage, landed on his head and then propelled itself, spitting madly, at Scabbers.
'NO, CROOKSHANKS, NO!' cried the witch, but Scabbers shot from between her hands like a bar of soap, landed splay-legged on the floor and then scarpered for the door.
'Scabbers!' Ron shouted, haring out of the shop after him; Harry followed. It took them nearly ten minutes to find Scabbers, who had taken refuge under a wastepaper bin outside Quality Quidditch Supplies. Ron stuffed the trembling rat back into his pocket and straightened up, massaging his head.
'What was that?'
'It was either a very big cat or quite a small tiger,' said Harry.
'Where's Hermione?'
'Probably getting her owl.'
They made their way back up the crowded street to the Magical Menagerie. As they readed it, Hermione came out, but she wasn't carrying an owl. Her arms were clamped tightly around the enormous ginger cat.
'You bought that monster?' said Ron, his mouth hanging open.
'He's gorgeous, isn't he?' said Hermione, glowing.
That was a matter of opinion, thought Harry. The cat's ginger fur was thick and fluffy, but it was definitely a bit bow-legged and its face looked grumpy and oddly squashed, as though it had run headlong into a brick wall. Now that Scabbers was out of sight, however, the cat was purring contentedly in Hermione's arms."

Fiddle- The fiddle turned into a cat by Gwendolen. Charmed Life:
"Cat started to learn the violin. He thought he was making good progress. He practised diligently. He never could understand why the new people living upstairs always banged on the floor when he started to play. Mrs Sharp, being tone-deaf herself, nodded and smiled when he played, and encouraged him greatly.
He was practising away one evening, when Gwendolen stormed in and shrieked a spell in his face. Cat found, to his dismay, that he was holding a large striped cat by the tail. He had its head tucked under his chin, and he was sawing at its back with the violin bow. He dropped it hurriedly. Even so, it bit him under the chin and scratched him painfully.
'What did you do that for?' he said. The cat stood in an arch, glaring at him.
'Because that's just what it sounded like!' said Gwendolen. ' I couldn't stand it a moment longer. Here, pussy, pussy!' The cat did not like Gwendolen either. It scratched the hand she held out to it. Gwendolen smacked it. It ran away, with Cat in hot pursuit, shouting, 'Stop it! That's my fiddle! Stop it!' But the cat escaped, and that was the end of the violin lessons... They made a great pet of the creature- naturally, it was called Fiddle. Though it remained bad-tempered, captious and unfriendly, it never went short of food."

Cheshire Cat- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
"And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might do very well as pigs, and was just saying to herself, 'if one only knew the right way to change them--' when she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.
The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect."

Buttercup- Prim's cat. Mentioned on the very first page! The Hunger Games:
"Sitting at Prim's knees, guarding her, is the world's ugliest cat. Mashed-in nose, half of one ear missing, eyes the colour of rotting squash. Prim named him Buttercup, insisting that his muddy yellow coat matched the bright flower. He hates me. Or at least distrusts me. Even though it was years ago, I think he still remembers how I tried to drown him in a bucket when Prim brought him home. Scrawny kitten, belly swollen with worms, crawling with fleas. The last thing I needed was another mouth to feed. But Prim begged so hard, cried even, I had to let him stay. It turned out OK. My mother got rid of the vermin and he's a born mouser. Even catches the occasional rat. Sometimes, when I clean a kill, I fee Buttercup the entrails. He has stopped hissing at me. Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love."

Angus- Georgia's cat in The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Series:
"When I did get to the door I had to go back and change my tights because my cat Angus had one of his "Call of the Wilds" episodes.
He really is completely bonkers. We got him when we went on holiday to Loch Lomond. On the last day I found him wandering around the garden of the guest house we were staying in. Tarry-a-Wee-While it was called. That should give you some idea of what the holiday was like.
I should have guessed all was not entirely well in the cat department when I picked him up and he began savaging my cardigan. But he was such a lovely looking kitten, all tabby and long-haired, with huge yellow eyes. Even as a kitten he looked like a small dog. I begged and pleaded to take him home.
'He'll die here, he has no mummy or daddy,' I said plaintively. My dad said, 'He's probably eaten them.' Honestly he can be callous. I worked on Mum and in the end I brought him home. The Scottish landlady did say she thought he was probably mixed breed, half domestic tabby and half Scottish wildcat. I remember thinking, Oh, that will be exotic. I didn't realise that he would grow to the size of a small Labrador only mad. I used to drag him around on a lead but, as I explained to Mrs Next Door, he ate it. Anyway, sometimes he hears the call of the Scottish Highlands. So, as I was passing by as a stuffed olive he leaped out from his concealed hiding place behind the curtains (or his lair, as I suppose he imagined it in his cat brain) and attacked my tights or 'prey'. I couldn't break his hold by banging his head because he was darting from side to side. In the end I managed to reach the outdoor brush by the door and beat him off with it." 
Let me know your favourite literary kitties! Maybe I'll do a part two! Yeah cats!

No comments:

Post a Comment