Cats not only have played a role in many writers’ lives … They’ve played a role in literary works at least as far back as the 17th century when French writer Charles Perrault recounted the tale of Puss in Boots. Long before Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse’s canine companion, Pluto, Edgar Allan Poe introduced the feline Pluto in his darker tale, “The Black Cat.”
Paul Gallico – perhaps better known as the author of The Poseidon Adventure – also wrote The Three Lives of Thomasina, which the Disney Studios also made into a movie in 1964.
But where cats truly shine seems to be mystery novels. In my own Portals fantasy/detective series, Corpus Christi, Texas, police detective Kat Morales has two feline companions – Simon and Hatshepsut. Originally I brought them in because – having shared my own life with cats and dogs for many years – I couldn’t see Kat without some kind of four-footed companion. Cats just seemed like the natural choice for a single police detective whose job might require her to be away from home for long hours.
Simon, the gray domestic shorthair, and Hatshepsut, the almost-Siamese, very quickly demanded more than just walk-on parts. They wound up having small, but significant, roles in my first two books, Shadow Path and Stormcaller, not quite so large a part in books 3 and 4, Deathtalker and Sister Hoods, but still very much part of Kat’s life. And in the meantime, Tevis has also acquired a feline companion – Alexander. As in, Alexander the Great.
I’m not sure what the roles of these three will be in future Portals books, but they’re definitely here to stay.
Cats have a way of taking over. You can only ignore them if they want to be ignored. And the air of mystery that just naturally surrounds them makes them perfect for mysteries – as a long string of feline companions and heroes demonstrate. Literature boasts a long line of feline sleuths, including Ko-ko and Yum-yum, the crime-solving Siamese in Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who … series, and Carole Nelson Douglas’ Midnight Louie.
Their traditional association with witches – not always beneficial to the cat – has brought them equal prominence in the realms of fantasy, including – most recently – Crookshanks, Hermione Granger’s cat in J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series.
I’d love to know if you have any favorite feline sleuths or cats from fantasy. Or if cats feature in your life or writing.
As always, if you leave a comment, you’re entered in the end-of-the-month drawing for one of my ebooks.