This post was originally published on Tor.com.
I’ve always thought cats are the perfect companion for the bookish. You never have to put down your book to take a cat for a walk. Instead, our feline friends will curl up on our laps while we dive into our latest fantasy obsessions, as though they’re tiny, fuzzy dragons lounging atop their hoard.
While I have nothing but love and respect for dogs—whether they’re real-life canines or fictional good boys—I feel a special kind of appreciation when a fantasy story contains a cat. Below, I’ll list five of my favorite fantasy felines and briefly discuss whether they’d make good real-world pets. After you read this, I hope you’ll take to the comments to (1) tell me your favorite fantasy cats and (2) drop pictures of your pets (there can never be enough cat pictures)!
Mister from The Dresden Files
Harry Dresden’s cat, Mister, plays on a classic fantasy-cat trope. The beast weighs a whopping thirty pounds, leading Dresden to believe he might not be 100% house cat. Perhaps his lineage could be traced back to a bigger wild breed, or even something more magical.
Whatever his origins may be, Mister is an adorable cat. His story is relatable to any of us cat parents: Dresden discovered Mister in a garbage can while the creature was still a kitten. The wizard took Mister in, and the two quickly bonded. Mister saunters into many of Dresden’s mysteries, occasionally giving Bob (a spirit bound to a human skull) a ride on his back during certain missions.
How would Mister fare as a pet in the real world, though? Pretty well, I think. He’s probably the most friendly pet on this list, and he’d be the easiest to care for. If you’re looking for a fantasy cat to bring home, you could do a lot worse than Mister.
The Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Cheshire Cat’s appearance differs depending on the Alice In Wonderland interpretation you’re reading or watching. I’m partial to the Disney depiction’s pink and purple stripes with bright yellow eyes.
No matter the form, the Cheshire Cat brings to whimsical life many of the behaviors our real-life felines exhibit, and captures the vibes they convey despite being unable to talk. His conversations with Alice are perplexing to the point of annoyance, though they may contain glimmers of helpful advice. Such is the way of living with or near a cat. They may yowl, meow, growl, or shout, and often those utterances make them woefully difficult to understand. (“I know you want something!” I yell to my cats as they stare at me enigmatically.)
The Cheshire Cat fully embodies this inscrutable quality, and his ability to speak English only makes him more confusing—for this reason, he’d be an absolute nightmare to keep as a pet. Stay in Wonderland, you crazy kitty.
Calliope from The House in the Cerulean Sea
Linus Baker’s temperamental cat companion doesn’t play a huge role in TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, but she certainly makes a mark. She’s the type of feline cat haters use to try to justify their hatred. She doesn’t want to be bothered…unless she does, in which case you’d better bother her!
In the book, Calliope serves as both a comforting presence and confidante for solitary Linus, who will think about his decisions—sometimes aloud—and interpret Calliope’s likely-unrelated reactions as advice. I’ve done it with my cats, using them as a mental sounding board, knowing full well they just want food or pets.
Calliope, like Mister above, is one of the most realistic cats on this list. To a patient and loving owner, she’d make a really good pet.
One Thousand Cats from Sandman: A Dream of a Thousand Cats
One thousand of anything (except maybe dollars) feels like too much. Even I, a cat-obsessed homebody, would be shaking in my boots if I encountered 1,000 felines gathered in the woods, listening to a story about a world once ruled by the beasts.
A Dream of a Thousand Cats opens with a tragic turn for a litter of kittens, lending an air of despair to the collective history of feline-kind at the hands of humans. It’s one of my favorite Sandman stories for its balance of whimsy and darkness, and I certainly don’t mind seeing so many cute cats gracing the page.
Any one of the thousand-plus cats in the story would be great pets. But all of them at once, collectively awakened by the history revealed to them on that fateful night? No thanks!
Church from Pet Sematary
No cat on this list plays as big a role in its story as Winston Churchill, aka Church, from Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (which you might argue is technically horror and not so much fantasy, but it was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, so it’s fine, let’s just focus on the cats).
Initially, Church is just a nice family kitty. He’s particularly close with Ellie Creed, the protagonist’s five-year-old daughter. Then Church undergoes… a transformation of sorts. You know what I mean if you’ve read the book. From then on, Church becomes a pseudo-villain, or perhaps more accurately a harbinger of things to come.
The transformed Church is a far cry from a desirable pet, no matter how friendly he was at the start. If you love your furry friends, try to avoid moving next to a pet cemetery.
Honorable Mention: The Cats From Red Seas Under Red Skies
You know what you did, Locke Lamora. You know what you did.