Feline Fridays: The Proud History of Storybook Cats

Dear Gentle Readers,

It’s the 5th Day of Dogtober, (I never signed off on that name, by the way) and BaxterBoo.com is doing a tribute to storybook characters. You may have noticed all that silliness with a castle, a prince, a princess, and a frog. I have to ask… where are the stories and tributes to cats? We’re lucky to have a black cat show up in one of the graphics for Halloween, and that is just so cliche. If I have anything to do with it, a cat will be making an appearance in our Dogtober themes!

This omission made me realize that I need to do a better job of educating our public. Cats have always held a prominent spot in literature, and well-known authors have said wonderful things about us, even going so far as to claim we are Muses.

The Cat in the Hat

First things first. Is there a more dear book than The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss? This book was the inspirational solution to boring primers, and a huge boost to the success of literacy programs in the United States. After all, what is more interesting and charming than the antics of a slightly naughty cat?

The Cat in the Hat is a literary masterpiece that took nine months to write due to the parameters given to Dr. Seuss. It was first published in 1957. The book is an amazing accomplishment since it keeps to a tiny vocabulary and tells an entertaining tale that also rhymes.

As if that wasn’t enough of a feat, Dr. Seuss wrote a follow-up novel a year later called The Cat Came Back with an equally entertaining and unique story. It sold nearly as well as the first book. It also stays within the strict guides of early-reading words with the same gift of rhyme. Plus, don’t stories about cats always mean a good time? (Sorry, couldn’t help but to inject a little kitty rhyme.)

Puss in Boots

This French fairy tale was written in 1697 by Charles Perrault. With a plot that launches with a cat given as an inheritance to a third-born son, you know it’s going to be an interesting story!  The son initially laments about being given a cat, but still gives the cat a pair of boots that he requests. Thus gaining the feline’s loyalty, the cat helps out the young man with a number of clever machinations that eventually convince the king of the land that the young son is actually a marquis, deserving of the hand of the princess (who falls for the sharp-dressed man due to the cat facilitating a clever costume change of royal threads. )

This story has captured the imagination of cultures world wide. Puss in Boots continues to enjoy a resurgence in popularity due to an excellent interpretation of this clever kitty first in the Shrek movies, and later in his own feature. I must say… he moves me! Me-YEOW!

The Cheshire Cat

Who hasn’t been slightly frightened of the strange and mystifying disappearing cat from Alice in Wonderland? Even in a world of zany characters, the Cheshire Cat stands out among the others as being most memorable! Lewis Carroll’s story, published in 1865, has been an endearing classic, and triumph for cats everywhere, neurotic and sane cats alike. (No, Dinah, we won’t forget you simply for being on this side of the looking glass.)

So Many More!

There are so many literary references to cats. I read somewhere that it numbers over 20,000! But some of my favorites are Crookshanks, Hermione Granger’s fluffy orange cat in the Harry Potter series, which is a popular newcomer. Also important are the Three Little Kittens who Lost Their Mittens, and the cat who played the fiddle in Hey Diddle Diddle. Who can forget Tom Kitten in the Beatrix Potter stories? (See the featured image at top.)

I hope this has been informative to our readers. With some of the negative things people have said about us cats in the media recently, I thought it would be nice to remind folks that we cats have traditionally been revered in publications. Let’s hope this turns the tide a bit.

And if my own words do not convince you, I shall leave you with a few human quotes on the mysterious connection between cats and writers.

“Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.” ~Robertson Davies

“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” ~Edgar Allan Poe

“As an inspiration to the author, I do not think the cat can be over-estimated. He suggests so much grace, power, beauty, motion, mysticism. I do not wonder that many writers love cats; I am only surprised that all do not.” ~Carl Van Vechten

Sincerely,

Miss Bella Boo

All photos except my portrait are from creative commons in Wikipedia.

2 thoughts on “Feline Fridays: The Proud History of Storybook Cats

  1. I love cats and the literature about them. If I wasn’t allergic to some of them and didn’t have 4 dogs and a bird, we’d probably have a cat too.

  2. My daughter love the siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp, Aristocats and Garfield, I always loved Felix the cat and Milo from Milo and Otis (ageing myself I know)

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