Animal Friends Blog
We can all probably name a book we’ve once read that featured a cat of some sort. We’ve read about the troublemakers, schemers, companions and charmers while comparing our own cats to the ones within the pages.
If you can’t remember a book involving a feline friend or foe it doesn’t necessarily mean a cat wasn’t behind the author’s inspiration for the story or bits of it.
To celebrate the fantastic Cats on the Page exhibition at the British Library, which we are sponsoring, we’re going to look at some of the most memorable cats from fiction, as well as cats that may have inspired some to write.
The Cheshire Cat is a British Shorthair cat that appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and is recognised by its mischievous grin. From Alice’s first encounter with the Cheshire Cat at the Duchess’s kitchen, the cat continued to amuse, annoy and baffle Alice throughout the book.
When people visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum they’re met by around 40 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. He was given his first six-toed kitten as a gift from a sea captain and named her Snow White, and soon adopted more cats.
With so many cats eventually running around his houses we can only assume Hemingway’s feline friends inspired some of his work.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
A tiger’s still a cat, right? Judith Kerr’s famous bedtime story started as exactly that, a bedtime story for her daughter. The much-loved story then became Kerr’s first picture book published in October 1968.
Mog, another firm favourite amongst children and adults alike, was based on Kerr’s family cat. We have a lot of thanks to give to the cats in Judith Kerr’s life as without them our own children’s bedtime stories might not be as exciting.
Charles Dickens spent a lot of his time writing while his cats kept him company and they learnt to extinguish the candle on his desk to get his attention. In 1862 Dickens lost one of his cats, Bob, and promptly arranged to have one his cat’s paws stuffed and mounted to an ivory letter opener.
Sir Isaac Newton
When Sir Isaac Newton wasn’t busy being one of the most influential scientists of all time, he was trying to figure out a way to get his cats to stop scratching at the door and disturbing his experiments.
The story goes that he hired a carpenter and had him saw two holes in his door, one for the mother cat and a smaller one for the kittens. Obviously, the kittens just followed their mother through her hole and ignored the second hole completely.
Unfortunately, Newton inventing the cat flap might be no more than some 19th-century rumours as it’s not entirely proven, but it’s still a nice story to believe.
There are plenty more cats to be seen and read about in books from all sorts of genres, some of which are available to be seen at Cats on the Page, a wonderful celebration of all things literary and feline which Animal Friends are proudly supporting. It’s completely free to visit and is currently on at the British Library until March.
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