Cats in Literature
Cats remain one of the world’s most popular pets. The ancient Egyptians held them to be sacred animals, a symbol of grace and poise. Cats also appear in the mythology of other cultures, including the Norse goddess Freya, who rode in chariot drawn by cats. It is also said that the Prophet Mohammad loved cats to the point that he would not disturb one sleeping on his cloak. It is therefore not surprising that cats have a long tradition in literature.
Many Japanese folk tales, for example, are of maneki-neko, who is said to bring good luck. Many Japanese and Chinese restaurants have a waving lucky cat as a part of this tradition. An old European folk tale is that of a cat who uses trickery in order to gain the hand of a princess. This tale has survived as Puss in Boots.
In formal literature, one of the most famous cats is the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The Cheshire Cat is famous for his grin and his ability to disappear, leaving only the famous grin. T.S. Eliot wrote a collection of whimsical poems about cats in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which later served as the inspiration for one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time, Cats. Cats also appear in famous children’s literature, including The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Ginger and Pickles and Amy Tan’s Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat.