Cats have been constant figures in literature. Whether as the main character or a background one, their feline presence is apparent and normally very welcome. Although there are some cats that you may not want to let in your house for any reason at all. They are featured heavily in cozy mysteries, something I have touched on before. That is by no means the only genre their fluffiness can be found in. Below is a highlight of some of the more proficient cats that we’ve read about during our bookish lives.
As a quick aside, this list is all about the cats. However, it goes without saying that someone had to create them first. That said, this list is not as inclusive as I would normally prefer, but I still feel that the cats mentioned do merit a place here.
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
I don’t think any cat list would be complete without talking about the Cat in the Hat. Most young book dragons are introduction to reading includes this rhyming book. A tall cat with an equally tall white and red striped hat, this mischievous feline causes all kinds of chaos. The fish was right to not want him in the house (justice for the fish!). Ultimately, he does help to clean up the messiness that he causes. Which is kind of a good lesson to teach our kids, although the better lesson may be to not cause the mess at all.
Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat who has an abnormally large head and ears. Because of this, he thinks he is a Chihuahua. It seems to be a very odd premise but it is a popular picture book series among young readers. It’s not without its controversy with the concerns over racial depiction, but aside from that it is one that is super popular with children. The first time I saw the cover, it took me a moment to figure out what the heck the animal was, much to my babysitting charge’s shock since it was one of her favorite books at the time. He is an adorable little thing though there is no doubt about that.
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Pete is a blue cat who is just too cool to keep off this list. Whether he’s singing about his new white (then red, blue, brown) shoes or attending his first day of school doesn’t matter. He maintains his composure no matter what curveballs life throws at him. Another one of the good things about Pete is that he is confident in his own uniqueness and that is a great personality trait to foster in our kids.
Crookshanks & Mrs. Norris, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I’m including both cats in this list because they both play prominent roles in the series. Crookshanks was Hermione’s animal companion, and the constant foil to Scabbers for the length of time that he was in the story. He’s a cat with a face and personality that only Hermione loves, although some may argue there are other cats like that out there. Regardless of this, Hermione loved him and he loved Hermione.
Then there was Mrs. Norris, the cat companion of Argus Filch. Filch’s extra set of eyes and ears while making sure the children of Hogwarts stay in line. Most kids were not happy to see either one of them and would run the other way if they saw them coming. Mrs. Norris was one of the few who was cursed by the basilisk in the second book, an experience that almost broke Filch. Despite them not being sympathetic characters, I personally was hard pressed not to get hit in the feels when that happened since it was clear how much Filch loved his cat in that moment. And I was happy when they were reunited, even if it was just a brief glimmer of it.
Socks, Socks by Beverly Cleary
I’m not sure if many people remember this book by Beverly Clearly. She’s more well known for her Ramona series. However when I started writing this article this was one of the first cats I thought about since I remember reading this book more than once as a child. Socks is a young tabby with four white paws whose humans are the young and married Marilyn and Bill.
All of their lives change when a baby comes along, and Socks has to learn how to deal with the new tiny human in his life as well as his change in the position in the family. While told from the cat’s point of view, the story is a good allegory for other children who have to learn how to adjust to the new dynamics whenever a new baby comes.
Cheshire Cat, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & through the the looking glass by Lewis Caroll
The Cheshire Cat is easily one of the most enigmatic and equally frustrating characters in this series. He is also a feline that everyone has had some experience with. Serving as a sort of animal spirit guide to Alice through her nonsensical adventures in Wonderland, he is probably her most faithful companion and one of the few that is actually looking out for her.
Even if his methods to do so seem to be more than a bit off the mark. Whether it’s the pink tabby cat from the Disney version, the one from the Tim Burton remake, or even the creepy one from American McGee’s Alice video game, this is one cat who has landed firmly on all four feet in literature. His position cannot be denied and won’t be usurped any time soon.
Salem Saberhagen, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrinaby Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Author) and Robert Hack (Illustrator)
Salem Saberhagen is Sabrina’s wisecracking talking cat in all incarnations, save for the recent Netflix adaptation. Most people in my generation may be more familiar (pun intended) with the one voiced by Nick Bakay in the Melissa Joan Hart series, but he was also featured in the original comic book series. He is also present in the new and darker Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, although, as mentioned, he only speaks in the comic book version of that series. I will admit my heart will always belong to the TGIF series. I was a homebody at that young age, so that two hour block of time was my default for most Friday nights.
Sebastian, Josie and the Pussycats
A mostly black cat, save for the paws and a majority of his face, this cat is the companion of Alexandra Cabot, sister of Alexander Cabot III, manager of the titular band. Alexandra isn’t a very nice person and neither is Sebastian. However he doesn’t appear to be overly loyal to Alexandra either since he always gets a kick out of it whenever she gets her comeuppance.
While maybe not as well known as Salem, Sebastian is still a cat that if one were to see him at a glance, the picture would tickle their memory banks. One noticeable call out; in the cartoon series, the laugh is much like that of Muttley of Dick Dastardly fame.
Goose, Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue Deconnick (Author), Chris Sebela (Author), Dexter Soy (Illustrator), Emma Rios (Illustrator), and Felipe Amdrade (Illustrator)
Originally called Chewie in the comic series and renamed Goose, this feline is Carol Danver’s trustworthy companion. I spoiled the mystery of this feline when researching the article but, no worries, I will not extend that to you. Suffice to say there is more to this orange cat than meets the eye, but the loyalty the feline displays towards Danvers is on par with that of a dog. And since cats are sometimes notorious for being independent, this is quite the endearing trait.
Robert Jordan, Tres Navarre series by Rick Riordan (First Book: Big Red Tequila)
This cat is from Rick Riordan’s lesser known adult series featuring a detective by the name of Tres Navarre. The stories themselves aren’t overly memorable and Riordan’s talent really shines in his middle grade novels, but this cat is a delightful addition to the series if for no other reason than his dietary presence. Who doesn’t love a cat whose human literally has to get him his own plate of enchiladas whenever he gets Mexican food? It’s so wonderfully Texan and I love everything about it.
Sneaky Pie Brown, Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown (First Book: Wish You Were Here)
“Co-written” with Rita Mae Brown’s cat Sneaky Pie Brown, a fact that made my Gay & Lesbian Literature professor chuckle as she mentioned it when we read Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, this series has two cats who aid in solving crimes with their human. Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen has the assistance of Mrs. Murphy, a Tiger cat like Sneaky Pie, and Pewter, a fluffy gray kitten in her sleuthing endeavors. There is also Tee Tucker, a Welsh Corgi. But that’s a list for another time.
Winston Churchill AKA Church, Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Who doesn’t know who this cat is? Even if one is not a horror fan, they likely know the name of the cat whose death started all the events of the horror novel. Which is what makes it even more terrifying. This is one of the cats that you would hope wouldn’t come back, especially after being buried in the ground beyond the pet cemetery.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
I will admit I’m not anywhere close to what could be termed as a fan of T.S. Eliot. However, this book and the felines contained within have earned their place in literature and theater history as it is the basis for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s hit musical Cats. There are numerous cats mentioned and named in the book of poems, including Rum Tum Tugger, Old Deuteronomy, and Macavity.
Garfield, Garfield by Jim Davis
Garfield’s presence in pop culture cannot be denied since everyone has had experience with the lasagna loving orange tabby. I remember watching the Garfield and Friends cartoon series from the late ’80s growing up and then reading through the collected comic books in middle school. My son loves Garfield as well and these older collections are one he always looks for whenever we are able to go to the library.
This is just a sampling of some of our favorite felines from the various forms of fictions. I know that not every one was listed and some were missed so please let us know on social media some of your favorites that might have been overlooked.