Thursday, January 13, 2011

Favorite Fictional Felines

Over the past several years I have become increasingly convinced that the world is divided into “cat people” and “dog people.” (To be honest I think most of the hostility is directed from the dog people onto the cat people, but maybe I have that impression because I fall firmly in the cat people category. All I know is that when I mention having a cat, dog people immediately give me that “oh, you're one of those” looks.)

I love my cat. Some days I'm not sure why: she never voluntarily sits in my lap; she claws up the furniture, despite having a perfectly good scratching post (which she knows how to use); and on a regular basis she, ahem, “fails at litterbox” (her aim isn't the best). But I love her.

(As to why I'm not a dog person, the answer is very simple: OCD. I can't pet an animal without having to wash my hands immediately afterward, and dogs are very demanding. I don't mind them so much in other people's houses—for example, my friends have two Italian greyhounds I adore—but I couldn't deal with dogs on a daily basis.)

Well, recently I've realized that my love of cats extends beyond real cats to encompass fantasy cats. There are a lot of fun, fictional cats. And they all seem to have a few distinctive traits:

1. Overt disdain for humans.

This is soooo spot on. My cat is queen of her domain. I don't know if I've ever met a cat who didn't think it was the most important being in the universe.

2. Hidden wisdom (usually only shared in riddles).

Okay, maybe not so much on this one. I can see where the idea comes from: my cat often looks at me with this half-lidded stare that seems to suggest she knows the secrets of the universe... but usually that just means she woke up from a nap two minutes ago and isn't quite alert yet. I have also seen her rolled into a ball, her front legs battling her back legs, which are clawing at her face. Not so much wisdom there.

3. Hidden motives—impossible to know until the end whose side they are on.

And this may well be true. But will we ever really know? Cats have their own agendas; attempting to change them is futile.

And now for my three favorite fantasy cats (in no particular order):

Grim (The Iron Fey Series) – because every time someone asks him how he knows the things he knows, he replies, “I am a cat.”

Mogget (The Abhorsen Trilogy) – because sometimes immense, volatile power is contained in a tiny, sarcastic package.

Maruman (The Obernewtyn Series—which I really ought to reread and recommend here) – because underneath his madness is a hint of true affection.

How about you? Are there any particular cats (or dogs) you enjoy reading about?


  1. I love all the little fuzzy animals. (Except ferrets. Awful things.)

    One of my favorite (youth) books, though, is called No More Dead Dogs. The kids in the story are fed up with all the books about dogs that die, so they change the school play so that their dog can live. The icing on this: the dog is a remote control vehicle with a stuffed animal shell sewed on to it.

    Such a fun book.

  2. Yeah, that does sound fun.

    Sometimes I wish I didn't have the OCD, because dogs have many good qualities. Particularly the cute ones...

  3. I had totally forgotten Maruman! Man, he was crazy.

    I'm about to read Plain Kate by Erin Bow -- I've been told by a few people that her cat (Taggle, I think?) is the best literary cat ever. I'm looking forward to finding out!

  4. i think most cat people just haven't lived with a dog, and most dog people haven't lived with a cat. I think people that love cats and dogs would also love many aspects of the other animal if they actually invited them into their homes. At least, that has been my experience in the past.
    Man, i want a cat so bad! Stupid family members having allergies *grumble grumble*

  5. OMG - straight up, my verification word for my last post was catint! creeeeeeeeepy

  6. Oooooh, that is a little creepy. And I think you're right: a lot of people probably only know one or the other.

    What kind of cat would you get?