“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” (Terry Pratchett)
Thousands of years ago some crazy person looked at a wolf and thought “I can make a companion out of this animal.” The rest is history. Wagging tails, wet noses and soulful looks have become a part of our comfortable domesticity. Man’s best friend however, cannot compete with the fascination that writers have, in particular fantasy writers, for cats.
PS: Dogs are also known to have sixth sense. So why is it that they are not considered as fodder for fantasy?
LL: Because they’re not known to follow you into different dimensions and other worlds, as with Millie’s cats from the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynn Jones.
PS: I think it is also that dogs are too domestic whereas cats are basically independent animals with nine lives of their own and so full of their own importance.
LL: Don’t forget their deviousness. You can’t quite trust them. And they don’t follow set rules.
PS: Like Macavity with his “deceitfulness and suavity”. It’s also the aura of mystery and nonchalance that they present – remember the Cheshire cat with his grin and disappearing act!
LL: Somehow one wants to follow a cat, just to see where it is going. The possibility of it leading you into adventure seems much more imminent.
PS: It’s also to do with witches keeping cats. You know they have been imbibing/facilitating or doing magic and that makes them interesting. Dogs, with some exceptions, are too true to their nature whereas cats can be nasty. Like Greebo,Nanny Ogg’s cat from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.
LL: Funnily enough the fantasy writers don’t just write about cats but are themselves cat people. Quite a few of them keep cats; George RR Martin and Neil Gaiman, to name a few.
PS: And Terry Pratchett. And Anne McCafferey had cats. I think it’s because writers find cats more peaceful to have around. No need to take them for walks or have to deal with loud barking when the doorbell rings. No complaints from the Amazon guy bringing your order (I know all about what makes dogs a nuisance!).
We have as result of our conversation, come up with a list of Authors writing about magical felines. Please feel free to send your thoughts and additions to the list which is anything but exhaustive.
- Lewis Carroll and the Cheshire cat
- JK Rowling and Crookshank (Hermione Granger’s cat) and Mrs.Norris
- TS Eliot and the Old Possum’s Book of Cats
- Dr.Seuss and the Cat in the Hat
- Bagheera from The Jungle book (Yes, we know he is not quite a cat but he is feline. Although he can be a bit too earnest and therefore more like a dog.)
- And possibly the most magical of them all is Hobbes (So brilliantly drawn by Bill Watterson)