While fictional dogs (of which there seem to be plenty more than cats) are often portrayed as loyal, obedient and generally preoccupied with doing what’s right, cats are much harder to stereotype.
They’re a mysterious and mercurial bunch: one minute they’re purring sweetly on your lap, the next they’ve knocked something over or dug their claws into you, seemingly just for a laugh.
On the whole though, literary cats are usually seen playing up to their mischievous tendencies (because where's the fun in playing by the rules?) so from felines wreaking demonic havoc, to those with everlasting grins and the rare gems who are simply loving pets, here’s our definitive list of the best cats ever written.
10. Jiji from Kiki's Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono
9. Mimi from Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
8. Maurice from The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
7. Nana from The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
6. Varjak Paw from Varjak Paw by S.F. Said
5. Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
While he may look like a small stuffed toy to everyone else in Bill Watterson’s comic, Calvin knows that his best friend Hobbes is a walking, talking tiger. As far as Hobbes himself is concerned, he delights in being a big cat and occasionally passes judgement on the follies of human nature.
Although named after the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the two don’t share much in terms of their moral outlook but feline-Hobbes is often the voice of reason or, perhaps, the voice of Calvin’s conscience. Unsurprisingly, the two are inseparable and it’s easy to see why – who wouldn’t want a pal like Hobbes to while away their days with?
4. The Cheshire Cat from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
3. Mr. Mistoffelees from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot
T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Catsis, unsurprisingly, a book full of cats. So picking a favourite really comes down to personal preference, doesn’t it? But allow us to present a case for the Magical Mr. Mistoffelees: he’s an expert conjurer, holder of all the patent monopolies and he can play any trick with a cork. You might not think that sounds like much but was there ever a cat so clever as Magical Mr. Mistoffelees?
Not to mention, he appears to be able to astrally project himself elsewhere and he once produced seven kittens out of a hat and – much more impressive than your average magician pulling a single rabbit from a hat, we think you'll agree? It's no wonder this phenomenal cat has conjured himself so high up this list.
2. Mog from Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr
With her tabby coat and white bib, Mog must be one of the most recognisable fictional cats out there.
She’s a fan of all the usual catty activities like eating, snoozing, chasing birds and whatever else cats get up to in their spare time but the issue is, she’s a very forgetful cat (as you might have gleaned from the title of the book).
She forgets she’s already been fed, forgets she has a cosy basket to sleep in, forgets cats can’t fly when she jumps out of trees and, crucially, forgets about the existence of the cat flap that allows her to go in and out as she pleases. But one day, her forgetfulness works in her favour when she unwittingly (and it is usually unwittingly, bless her) saves the day.
Mog may be forgetful but she is certainly unforgettable, which explains why Judith Kerr's classic children's book continues to be a favourite to this day.
1. Behemoth from The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov