Famous Cats in Literature

19/04/12 at 11:10 am

The cat is the sixth earliest animal domesticated in 7500 B.C. in Cyprus and the Near East. Scientifically, the cat is a big family comprised of many species. Domestic cats are known as Felis Catus while the Panthera group is comprised of the  leopard (Panthera pardus), tiger (Panthera tigris), jaguar (Panthera onca), and lion (Panthera leo). Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) is a unique cat having its own genus Acinonyx. Cats are symbolic to speed, agility, grace, night vision, and allusion. In addition to these capabilities, it is also due to their beautiful spotted or striped fur and unsurpassable intuition of hunting that almost all types of cats have been mentioned in old and new worldwide literature.

1. Ding Dong Bell

Ding Dong Bell

Ding Dong Bell

Ding Dong Bell, mentioning a cat, is a famous nursery rhyme in the English language and in recorded history, the organist of Winchester Cathedral, John Lant was the first to mention it in 1580 as:

“Jacke Boy, oh boy news

The cat is in the well.

Let us ring now for her knell

Ding Dong Bell, Ding Dong Bell”

Shakespeare has used the phrase “Ding Dong Bell” in many of his plays like it is in, The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene II;

“Let us all ring fancy’s knell;

I’ll begin it Ding, Dong, bell”

It also appears in The Tempest, Act I, Scene II

With a few amendments, the modern version of the rhyme is as popular as it was hundreds of years ago.

2. Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots (Le Chat Botte) is a fairy tale in French literature. The story is about the third and youngest son of a miller who inherits a cat from him while the eldest son gets the mill and the second one a mule. The cat is an extraordinary feline and asks for a pair of boots. The cat hunts a rabbit and presents it to the king as a gift from his master. The cat continues the practice and ultimately succeeds in winning the hand of the princess for his master, Marquis Carabas. The tale was written by Charles Perrault, and it appeared for the first time in an illustrated, handwritten manuscript in 1695. It was later published in a collection of eight fairy tales titled Histories ou contes du temps passe. The book found immediate acceptance and is popular even today.

3. The Champawat Tiger

The Champawat Tiger

The Champawat Tiger

The Champawat Tiger was a female Bengal tiger that killed 436 people in the Nepal and Kumaon area of India according to the documented records. She was killed by the famous hunter Jim Corbett in 1907. She started killing men in Nepal, and when she had killed 200 people, the Nepalese army drove her away into the Indian territory. She had killed a 16-year-old girl the day she was shot dead by Jim Corbett. Her post mortem report revealed that her upper right canine was half broken while the lower canine was broken to the jawbone in consequence of some old gunshot. Jim Corbett wrote a book titled Man-Eaters of Kumaon in1944. Both Jim Corbett and his book occupy a respectable place in Indian Classical Literature.

4. The Nemean Lion

The Nemean Lion

The Nemean Lion

Killing the Nemean lion was the first and most popular feat of Hercules in Greek mythology. The lion was the offspring of Echidna and Typhoon and had killed the son of Molorchus. When Hercules entered the city of Cleones on the border of the Nemean forest, Molorchus extended him hospitality and intended to sacrifice his only boar to honor his guest whereupon Hercules asked him to wait 30 days till he avenged his son by killing the lion. The Nemean lion lived in a cave having two openings built on a sharp peak of a mountain. Hercules closed one end with stones and entering the cave from the other end he killed the lion and slept for a long time before seeing Molorchus.

5. Poor Pussy

Poor Pussy

Coral Island by Ballantyne

Coral Island by Ballantyne is one of the most famous works in English literature. It is particularly very popular among teens as the adventure is carried out by three teenagers. During their routine walk one day, they saw a black animal and targeted it with an arrow that missed. Approaching closer, they found the cat was blind. “Poor thing,” said Peterkin, gently extending his hand and endeavoring to pat the cat’s head. “Poor pussy! Chee, chee, chee! Puss, puss, puss! Cheety pussy.” No sooner did the cat hear these sounds than all signs of anger fled, and advancing eagerly to Peterkin it allowed itself to be stroked, and rubbed itself against his legs, purring loudly all the time and showing every symptom of the most extreme delight.”

6. Kimba



Kimba, the Jungle Emperor, is known as Kimba the White Lion in the U.S. The character was created by Japanese author Osamu Tezuka and was first published in 1950. Kimba in Japanese stands for “Leo” or “lion.” Kimba was born to her mother Eliza on a boat. Eliza told him the ideals and values of his father. One stormy night she encouraged Kimba to break open the cage and set himself free. He did so, and the fish guided him to know how to swim. And when he was despairing, the stars appeared to him in the form of his mother to console and encourage him. Butterflies directed him to his destination, and he landed among men far away from his father’s forest. He learned that only understanding between animals and men would guarantee true peace.

7. The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat is a children’s story book for elementary reading. The mischievous cat wears a long red and white striped hat and a red bow tie. The cat appears in six books; The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, The Cat in the Hat Songbook, The Cat’s Quizzer, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, and Daisy-Head Mayzie. Dr.Seuss created this book in response to an article in Life magazine of May 25, 1954. He argued, “Why should {School primers} not have pictures that widen rather than narrow the associative richness the children give to the words they illustrate…”

8. Bagheera



Bagheera is derived from “Bagh” meaning “tiger” in Hindi. Bagheera is one of the most popular fictional characters created by Rudyard Kipling in his Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book. Bagheera was born in captivity in the zoo of the Rajah of Oodeypore, India. After the death of his mother, he became strong enough to break open the cage and escaped into the jungle where everyone except Shere accepted his chieftaincy. Bagheera became the mentor and the best friend of Mowgli ;the adopted  human cub. According to Rudyard Kipling as he wrote in The Jungle Book, “Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody dared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree…”

9. Crookshanks



Crookshanks is a fictional character created by J. K. Rowling in the most popular Harry Potter series. Crookshanks is a pet cat of Hermione Granger; half cat and half magical creature. Rowling had created the character having seen a real Persian cat. Hermione bought the cat from a pet shop feeling sympathetic because no one else was interested in buying the cat due to its odd face and behavior. Crookshanks is an intelligent cat, gifted with an extrasensory perception for detecting untrustworthy people whenever they are around.

10. Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat

The Cheshire Cat is a fictional character made famous by Lewis Carroll’s portrayal in his classic Alice in Wonderland. The cat is known for its distinguished grin. The 1788 edition of A Classic Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue describes the Cheshire Cat. “He grins like a Cheshire Cat said of anyone who shows his teeth and gums in laughing…” Disney animated the film Alice in Wonderland wherein the Cheshire Cat is depicted as a mischievous and intelligent character that sometimes helps Alice and at times gets her into trouble.


Human beings are gifted with the matchless faculty of imagination and interestingly it is there in its full bloom right since early childhood. This is why the children enjoy seeing the real creatures in the zoo. But when it comes to reading The Jungle Book or watching Mowgli on TV, they are simply glued to it as if they were in a state of a trance. Imagination is the vital force behind all great works, and cats have been depicted in various ways in internationally famous literature.

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Image Credit :

http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Bagheera http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Crookshanks
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