What is it about cats that makes them so literary? It just seems like books and cats are the purrfect combination! From the ancient Egyptians who kept cats as sacred animals, to the medieval folks who believed cats were a symbol of witchcraft, to modern-day readers who adore cats’ mystique and intelligence, cats have an undeniable presence in literature.
In ancient Egyptian culture, cats were seen as sacred animals associated with the goddess Bastet. Bastet was believed to be the protector of homes, so cats were often kept as pets to ward off evil spirits. In addition, because cats were so closely associated with the goddess, they were often mummified after death and buried with honor.
In medieval Europe, cats were more often associated with superstition and witchcraft. Cats were believed to have supernatural powers, and witches were often depicted with a black cat as their companion. This connection between cats and the supernatural was a popular theme in literature, such as the works of William Shakespeare. In Macbeth, a black cat is featured as a mysterious messenger of doom, and in the classic story of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s nurse is said to have a black cat that Juliet consults for advice.
In the 19th century, cats were often seen as mysterious and independent creatures. Authors such as Lewis Carroll and Emily Dickinson used cats as a symbol of freedom, intelligence, and sophistication. In Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll uses the Cheshire Cat to symbolize the unpredictable nature of life, and in Emily Dickinson’s poem “The Soul Selects Her Own Society,” the cat is used to represent the mysterious power of the soul.
In the 20th century, cats were often featured as beloved family pets in literature. Authors such as Kenneth Grahame and J.R.R. Tolkien used cats as symbols of comfort and companionship, while authors like C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling used cats as symbols of loyalty and intelligence. In Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, the character of Ratty is often accompanied by his beloved pet cat, Moley, who serves as a loyal and trusty companion. In J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the character of Hermione Granger is often accompanied by her beloved cat, Crookshanks, who is portrayed as smart and loyal.
Modern-day readers adore cats in literature because of their mystique and intelligence, and their presence in literature can serve as a reminder that life is full of surprises and adventure. In addition, cats are often remind readers that sometimes the best relationships are the ones that require a little bit of effort.
But we haven’t mentioned the most obvious connection between cats and literature: one of life’s greatest joys is reading a good book, with a cat snuggled by your side. Is there anything better than that?
Leave a Reply