animals

Critters in Literature: Cats

One of my latest obsessions has been the viral app, Neko Atsume, where you leave out trinkets in a virtual yard in the hopes that little cartoon cats will come and visit you. Like the rest of the world, I too am captivated by the cuteness of cats.

Not a cat person? That’s okay (Just kidding, it’s kinda not). Check out our posts on literary fishbears, turtles, rabbits, and elephants.

I’m pretty sure future historians will look back on our current society and think we’re like the ancient Egyptians, obsessed with cats. Well, if so, maybe our famous felines of literature will show them just how cats are meant to be worshipped.

cheshire cat

Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Cheshire Cat is a morally ambiguous character, like most cats tend to be. He seems more interested in watching Alice bumble around Wonderland than actually helping her. He’s known for his distinctive leering grin that is the last thing to fade away when he vanishes. 

“We’re all mad here.” – Cheshire Cat

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Another mischievous cat, the Cat in the Hat comes to call when two children are left at home on a dreary, boring day. Seeking to make their day fun, the Cat’s antics instead unleash chaos and destruction. …Also sounds like cats.

breakfast at tiffany's cat

Cat from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Though not a substantial figure in the book, the nameless cat of Breakfast at Tiffany’s represents Holly Golightly’s transient nature and aversion to anything permanent, even a name.

“She was still hugging the cat. “Poor slob,” she said, tickling his head, “poor slob without a name. It’s a little inconvenient, his not having a name. But I haven’t any right to give him one: he’ll have to wait until he belongs to somebody.”

crookshanks hermione

Crookshanks from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Crookshanks is an enormous, lion-like cat. He’s ginger-colored with yellow eyes, and his face looks like he’s “run headlong into a brick wall.”. Very intelligent, Crookshanks helped Sirius Black sneak into Hogwarts, and he figured out Peter Pettigrew’s disguise before any of the Golden Trio did.

Ron Weasley: “What was that?”
Harry Potter: “It was either a very big cat or quite a small tiger.” 

Pluto from The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe
This cat drives the narrator to madness. After the cat is a beloved pet for years, the narrator gouges out the cat’s eye in a drunken rage. He eventually hangs the cat with a noose, angry that the cat was frightened of him. From here on, the cat haunts the narrator, leading to terrible tragedies in his life.

puss in boots shrek

Puss in Boots by Giovanni Francesco Straparola
Originally Il Gatto Con Gli Stivali, Puss in Boots is a fairytale about a cat who is clever, and use tricks to gain riches and even the hand of a princess in marriage. Puss in Boots has been adapted to other works, like Shrek and even an appearance in Pokemon, portrayed by a Meowth.

Bast from The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
Not quite a cat… but a cat goddess. Bast is the Egyptian goddess of felines  and in Rick Riordan’s series about modern Egyptian demigods, she protects the Kane duo, Carter and Sadie. Even if she does it while wearing questionable fashion and hissing at others. She’s a tremendous help to them, and her powers demonstrate why the Egyptians held cats in such high regard.

“My dear, I’m a cat. Everything I see is mine.” – Bast

Did I miss one of your favorites? With how beloved cats are, I’m sure I did! A special honorary mention to Garfield, of course, Bill the Cat, and Grumpy Cat, no less iconic or worthy than our other literary felines. One of my personal favorites is Angus from the Georgia Nicholson series, probably a close cousin to Crookshanks.

I’m fairly certain cats will become our supreme overlords one day, so we should be churning out praise to them in all forms. Til next time, in critters of literature! For now I’m off to read up on more cats.

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at her website.

Critters in Literature: Fish

I love fish! Literature, apparently, doesn’t love fish nearly as much much. I really had to scour for these aquatic friends in fiction. And expand the scope to include both dolphins and whales. But that’s okay! I had to give the critters under the sea some love because I am a card-carrying Pisces.

So check out some iconic fish from literature. And then if you haven’t before, look at our posts on bears, turtles, rabbits, and elephants.

The Koi Fish from Chinese legends
There is an ancient tale in China about koi fish who swim upstream, against the current and all odds. Undeterred, they even try to jump up a mountainous waterfall, even if it takes hundreds of years. The koi fish who make it are transformed into dragons for their strength and determination. Fun fact: the useless Pokemon Magikarp, which evolves into the dragon Pokemon Gyrados, is based on this legend.

hitchhikers

The Babel Fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
If you’re running around the galaxy, it’s probably safe to assume your average alien isn’t going to speak the Queen’s English. Luckily, there is a slippery little fish that feeds on brain neurons and has the ability to translate any language. You just have drop it into your ear canal and let it live in your brain. No big deal.

The Dolphins from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Humans are the third smartest creature on planet Earth. Dolphins are number two. The dolphins try to warn the humans about Earth’s nearing destruction, but are misinterpreted by their human handlers as “amusing attempts to punch football or whistle for tidbits.” Still, the dolphins were fond of the humans so they left them a parting message, “So long and thanks for all the fish”.

catinthehat

Goldfish from The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
The unnamed goldfish in The Cat in the Hat seems like a real killjoy, but when you think about it, he’s pretty much the only sane one. The children just let the cat come into their house and trash it. Did no one teach these children about stranger danger?

rainbowfish

Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Rainbow Fish is a very shiny, pretty fish, but doesn’t want to share his scales. So everyone is upset with Rainbow Fish and ostracizes him, until he learns not to be vain and selfish. Apparently, some people think this is a political message about socialism. Also bizarrely, there was a television series based on this story. 

pinocchio

The Dogfish from The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Pinocchio’s father Geppetto is swallowed up by this enormous dogfish sea monster, and then Pinocchio is too, when the wooden boy puppet goes looking for his father. In the Disney adaptation, the sea monster is a giant whale named Monstro. We can also get biblical and source the story of Jonah and the whale, but suggesting the Bible is fictional online will likely get me a lot of hate. 

There aren’t too many fish I left out. Unless you consider the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish from Dr. Seuss as being worthy of their own characters! It seems most of our fictional fishy friends are in other media, such as the adorable ones of “Finding Nemo”. Let that be motivation to you, BiblioSmilers! Write the next great novel about a fish!

Gabriele Boland is an aspiring grown-up. She enjoys pretending she’s in a Disney movie, letting her dork flag fly, and writing stories that will never see the light of day. The other ramblings of her mind can be found at her website.