Good Minds Suggest—Lynne Truss's Favorite Clever Literary CatsPosted by Goodreads on March 3, 2015
If you've ever suspected a cat of being a secret evil genius, Lynne Truss's new comic horror novel, Cat Out of Hell, will leave you sleeping with one eye open. Truss, a well-known BBC Radio 4 host, writer, and grammarian—whose bestselling nonfiction romp, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, taught us the importance of the comma, the apostrophe, and even the dreaded semicolon—has taken a 180-degree turn into darker, more sinister humor. In Cat Out of Hell, Alec, a retired librarian grieving for his wife, studies a strange set of documents—screenplays, audio files, JPEGs, and an assortment of notes—that reveal a chilling story about a talking cat named Roger, who really does have nine lives; his demonic cat master, the Captain; and a centuries-old feline conspiracy. Truss shares her top-five favorite clever cats, who may or may not be plotting world domination.
The Silent Miaow: A Manual for Kittens, Strays, and Homeless Cats, translated from the feline by Paul Gallico
"A mysterious typed manuscript titled £YE SUK@NT MUWOQ falls into the hands of author Paul Gallico. He quickly realizes it has been typewritten (badly) by a cat and is a manual for 'kittens, strays and homeless cats,' explaining how to manipulate humans so that you get the best chair, the best food, and so on. The 'silent miaow' is the ultimate weapon, the cat explains—just open your lips as if to miaow, but make no sound. Humans can't help interpreting this as bottomless emotion. It gets them every time."
Tobermory by Saki (H.H. Munro)
"At an English country-house weekend before the First World War, a guest claims to be able to give the gift of speech to animals. He is challenged to try out his gift on the resident cat, Tobermory—with uncomfortable results. The cat is articulate, haughty, and worst of all, he has spent his whole life listening and observing, with the result that he now knows something to the disadvantage of everyone present. It's a very funny story. Someone asks him, 'What do you think of human intelligence?' and he prefaces his reply with, 'You put me in an embarrassing position.' "
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
"'Macavity'—the feline equivalent of Sherlock Holmes's Moriarty—is the superbrain puss in this collection. Even the shape of his head tells us how intelligent he is: 'His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed.' Just the name is perfect: Macavity rhyming with 'gravity,' 'depravity,' and 'suavity.' But the proof of this cat's criminal brilliance is that whenever a crime is committed, 'Macavity's not there!' I learned a lot of poems by rote as a child, one of which was Eliot's 'The Ad-dressing of Cats' (from the same collection), but I wish someone had put 'Macavity' in front of me. It's the sort of poem to be remembered—and recited—with fondness in old age."
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
"I read the Alice books again the other day (it's the 150th anniversary of Wonderland's publication in 1865), and I realized that the Cheshire Cat is the one 'mad' character I actually looked forward to meeting again. Even Alice is pleased to see him, when his head rematerializes at the croquet game. Like the other creatures she encounters, the clever cat asks riddles and gives unsatisfactory answers, but he takes more of an interest in Alice than many of the others. 'What became of the baby?' he asks her (he remembers that she left the Duchess's house carrying an infant). 'It turned into a pig,' she says. To which he hilariously replies, 'I thought it would,' and vanishes from sight."
Felidae by Akif Pirinçci
"There are two clever cats that hover on the edge of my consciousness: the cat Behemoth in Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita and the cat sleuth Francis of Felidae. People are always telling me to read the Bulgakov, but although I like his plays, I'm worried that his sarcastic, gun-wielding black cat just won't be funny enough. At least the cat in Felidae (by all accounts) reads books, uses a computer, and talks about Kierkegaard. He also uses cat-slang, referring to humans as 'Can Openers,' although this dates him a bit now, of course. I once wrote that my own cats could hear the sound of a can opener lifted from a velvet cushion in a soundproofed room two floors away. But nowadays it's all ring-pulls and pouches and kibble, so pinpoint-remote-can-opener-movement-detection is a skill that cats generally no longer require."
Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Great "Cat" Books