Best Books About Adventurous Kitties

Because winter is for hot tea and blankets and wonderful books about your favorite four-legged felines.

Edward the Conqueror, by Roald Dahl

edwardWhile Roald Dahl is best known for his high-profile classics like Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he was incredibly prolific—and, while relatively unknown, Edward the Conqueror is considered one of his best short stories.

In this exceptional and sinister tale, Dahl explores the darker side of human nature, beginning with a music-loving, long-haired silver cat whose curious behavior comes between a husband and his wife. As The New Yorker writes about the story: “Louisa and Edward, a middle-aged couple, found a cat in their backyard. Edward said they should take it to the police, but Louisa said no. Before the day ended, Louisa was convinced that the cat was Franz Liszt reincarnated.”

The Black Cat, by Edgar Allan Poe

black catCats—especially those with black fur—have long been linked with the mysteries of the occult, so it’s only fitting that Edgar Allen Poe, master of the morbid, has written one of the very best cat books in recent history. Driven by alcohol and his obsession with a feline companion, The Black Cat is a short story that studies guilt through the lens of an unreliable narrator: a murderer who carefully conceals his crime, believes himself unassailable, but eventually succumbs to a nagging reminder of his guilt and reveals himself to authorities. First published in the 1843 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, this feline tale is as delightful as it is disturbing.

Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin

catwingsIn this acclaimed series of children’s picture books, award-winning science fiction author Ursula Le Guin writes the story of Mrs. Jane Tabby. Down an alley in a dumpster, she gives birth to four kittens who are anything but ordinary: each newborn sports a tiny set of wings. Although Mrs. Tabby is unperturbed by her kittens’ appearance, both winged and four-legged creatures mistrust them, so the kittens have trouble finding a home. Like most of the characters in Le Guin’s complex, otherworldly landscapes, these tiny superkittens reveal themselves as strange, complex, and wonderful protagonists as they seek a life among the clouds.

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Eliot

possomsPerhaps the most famous literary ode to the charms of cats, this whimsical poetry collection is best known as the basis for the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical Cats, a critically-acclaimed Broadway show that has charmed millions of audience members. But whether or not you’ve sung along to the catchy tunes of the stage adaptation, you’re sure to find something unique to love in the prosaic perfection of the original. Eliot ruminates on feline psychology and sociology, then doles out practical advice, too: “The naming of cats is a difficult matter, it isn’t just one of your holiday games; you may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter when I tell you, a cat must have three different names.”

The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov

margaritaBroadly considered one of the best novels of the 20th century, this story concerns a visit by the devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. In the book, which boasts influences from both the Freemasons and the occult, a homicidal, smooth-talking, onyx-colored cat named Behemoth takes center stage as a member of the Devil’s inner circle—but, as he eventually opines, “[…] everything will turn out right. The world is built on that.”

Meet the Author: Charlotte Austin

Charlotte Austin is a Seattle-based writer and mountain guide. She has climbed, explored, and led expeditions in North and South America, Nepal, Europe, Alaska, and Patagonia. Her writing has been featured in Women's Adventure, Alpinist, Stay Wild, and other national and international publications. When she's not guiding in the Himalayas, she's exploring her hometown (Seattle, Washington), trying new recipes, and hanging out with Huckleberry, her giant black Great Dane-Lab mix. Read more about their adventures at www.charlotteaustin.com.

Signs of Canine & Feline Cancer: Do You Know the Warning Symptoms?
Unexpected Feline Household Dangers