Cats Are Magic
"For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer of tales from forgotten cities in Meroe and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle’s lords, and heir to the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten."Throughout history, cats have gone paw-in-paw with the supernatural. In Ancient Egypt they were considered to be sacred to the goddess of the moon, Bast; in medieval Europe they were tied to witchcraft; in Japan and Russia they are heralds of good luck; in the Muslim world, they are regarded as Born Lucky, benevolent djinni, while in other places they are harbingers of misfortune. In Western culture, cats are purported to have nine lives, and black cats in particular carry associations with witchcraft and both bad and good luck. Unsurprisingly, when people write about cats in works with magic, cats tend to have magic too. Because All Witches Have Cats, cats are almost certain to make an appearance in a work with witches, and more often than not, these felines will possess unusual abilities. Even in media without witchcraft, cats alone will sometimes be able to perform supernatural feats while other animals will be extremely mundane. If any one animal has the ability to be understood by humans or to use human speech fluently, chances are that it's a cat. A person will often choose the form of a cat when using magic to disguise him or herself as an animal. Similarly, using transformation as a form of punishment often results in a feline transformation. Sometimes their magic might appear in a Follow the White Rabbit form. Usually a magical cat will be intelligent, but even non-sapient cats can have magical powers. Wittingly or not, cats may even be using their abilities to keep The Masquerade. Despite all this, cats are not often Bond Creatures, except maybe to witches in fluffiest of works. This is perhaps due to their reputations of being aloof and independent. This trope may mean a cat is an Evil Sorcerer if used in a story where Cats Are Mean. See also Cats Are Superior, Cats Have Nine Lives, Maneki Neko and Familiar.
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Anime & Manga
- The Cat Returns is this in spades.
- Yoruichi from Bleach often opts to wear the guise of a black cat.
- Haruhi Suzumiya has Shamisen, the calico cat. He (male calico cats being extremely rare) originally started as an ordinary cat, but was briefly given the ability of speech. This was because Haruhi believes witches need magical cats, and this belief altered reality and made Shamisen magical. She never finds out that Shamisen could talk, but was originally a little disappointed that he wasn't a black cat.
- In Sailor Moon, the characters find out they are Sailor Soldiers/Senshi/Scouts with magic powers because two talking cats with crescent moons on their foreheads, Artemis and Luna, appear to inform them and guide them as they try to save the world. They can even make magical items appear by doing backflips.
- Kuroneko-Sama from the anime Trigun, the black cat randomly appears across the desert planet Gunsmoke where our hero's show up. Fan Wank is that Kuroneko-Sama is God.
- Blair from Soul Eater is a cat with witch-level magical powers and the ability to transform into a busty Cat Girl.
- It doesn't help Soul or Maka that Blair's human form happens to have the iconic pointy hat and flowing robe (though Blair's robe is only flowy in the sleeves. The rest resembles are very short miniskirt with tank-top.)
- Happy, Charle, Pantherlily, and all the Exceed from Fairy Tail apply.
- Gatomon from Digimon possessed the attack "cats eye hypnotism" and she was rather mystic in nature
- In the manga Leviathan, cats are mentioned in passing to be able to see spirits.
- The cats in ARIA, especially the Mars variety. And then there's Cait Sith.
- The cats in Windy Tales seem to have a natural talent for manipulating wind.
- Cats in the Lyrical Nanoha verse are one of the two animals we've seen used as familiars, and are typically more magically oriented than the more physical oriented wolf familiars. In fact, all of the known cat familiars in the franchise have served as magic tutors, with Rynith teaching Fate, and the Lieze twins teaching Chrono.
- Kirara of InuYasha is a "nekomata", a cat that has lived for a very long time and has developed a split tail and magic powers. In Kirara's case, she can grow to a giant size (large and strong enough to easily carry three full-grown people), fly, and is often Wreathed in Flames in that form. She is also notably more intelligent than your average animal, though not quite sapient.
- Toyed with in Fate/Prototype's prequel Fragments of Pale and Silver: Ayaka's black cat is actually Servant Assassin under a false form.
- In The Sandman, where Clap Your Hands If You Believe means that All Myths Are True, the goddess Bast exists and governs the well-being of cats. Cats are also implied to have once ruled the world in an alternate timeline.
- In Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! the Animal Superhero team's magic-user is Alley-Kat-Abra.
Films — Animated
- Coraline has a cat that can move between the real world and the Other Mother's world. At the end of the movie, he is shown vanishing into thin air.
- The Last Unicorn has a talking cat that gives Molly the hint they need to save Amalthea and the unicorns. It was also the only creature that could see through the spell Schmendrick put on the unicorn. Bonus points for being the only cat on this list with an Eyepatch of Power.
Films — Live-Action
- Hocus Pocus: Binx, a teenager who was transformed into a black cat by a trio of vengeful witches. He has the ability to speak, and he is effectively immortal. No, he doesn't have nine lives, he just can't die.
- At one point in The Mummy, a normal cat that Evelyn brought with her on the adventure is able to ward off Imhotep because "cats are the guardians of the underworld". This is demonstrated once, and exploited only a single time following that, because Imhotep completes his regeneration soon after and becomes immune to whatever the cat would supposedly have done to him. It's still a Crowning Moment of Awesome, as Cleo gets in on the act.
O'Connell: Hey! Look what I got! (Holds up Cleo)Imhotep: (Oh Crap!!)Cleo: Hiss!Imhotep: (Villain Exit Stage Left)
- Similar to that, Constantine had John use a cat to enter the underworld, because they're "half-in, half out anyway".
- The cats from Catwoman, the movie. They resurrected the dead Catwoman and gave her cat-like abilities.
- The three stories in Cats Eye are tied together by a wandering street cat who is on a journey to save a little girl from a troll-like creature, after he received a psychic signal of some sort.
- The titular monsters in Sleepwalkers are humanoid hairless cat monsters. While cats themselves aren't magic, they are the Weaksauce Weakness of the sleepwalkers and attempt to swarm them at all times. We eventually see that cat scratches burst into flames on a sleepwalker.
- Perhaps the most famous literary example is HP Lovecraft's Short Story "The Cats of Ulthar", in which a Gypsy Curse causes a town's pet cats to team up and exact vengeance on an old couple that killed a kitten for fun.
- And in HP Lovecraft's novel The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, the cats of the Dreamlands can travel to the Moon on their own power and have a secret language. They worship Bast and aid the hero in his quest. The only thing the Earth-cats fear are the cats from Saturn, who are even more powerful than they, but are in league with the Eldritch Abominations.
- The Cat constellation in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe occasionally descends from the heavens and attaches himself to a mortal as a kitten with Purple Eyes who assists them in various ways. He appears first in Song of the Lioness when the Goddess gives him to Alanna, but we learn that in Provost's Dog he gave himself to Beka Cooper. (Word of God says he does this out of boredom. Cats.)
- Un Lun Dun, by China Miéville, subverts this by making cats the most stupid and least magical of all animals. Dogs, foxes, various birds, and even fish are shown to be sapient and able to cross the boundaries between worlds, but cats are too concerned with looking cool to learn anything of value.
- A black cat in Neil Gaiman's Coraline can talk in the Other Mother's universe, and acts as a sort of Mentor towards the heroine.
- Neil Gaiman's short story The Price is about an otherwise ordinary black cat who, on a daily basis, protects the narrator's home from a demonic entity. The black cat gets more and more beat up with every fight, and when he fails to fight the demon, the narrator's household is afflicted by numerous misfortunes.
- In Lloyd Alexander's Time Cat, all cats have the ability to travel to any place they choose, in any point of time they choose. This is said to be the reason why they can vanish mysteriously in small rooms.
- Discworld's Death is very fond of cats and gives them all nine lives. That said, the only cat who is really magical is Maurice, from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. He gained sapience and speech by eating a rat who had, in turn, also eaten some magical garbage.
- Greebo, the epitome of Cats Are Mean, has the ability to turn into a human (a muscular, agile, and very much naked human male) in times of danger ever since the witches put a spell on him.
- Cats in The Bartimaeus Trilogy are the only animal naturally able to see more than one plane.
- Nakata from Kafka on the Shore has the ability to talk to cats. Siamese cats are said to be very easy to communicate with.
- Jonnie Walker, another character from the same book, kills cats and uses their souls to make a magic flute.
- Cats in the Young Wizards universe are the only Earth species which can naturally see the string structures out of which wizardly Cool Gates are made, so the maintenance teams for Cool Gate clusters are all made of cat wizards. Also, even non-wizard cats can sometimes spontaneously walk through walls.
- In the Polish short story "Ponieważ kot (Because the cat)" by Jacek Dukaj, a company designs brain implants that are supposed to allow children to learn at a fantastic rate by making connections between information much more quickly. Unfortunately, several of the devices seem to have faulty logic systems, coming up with bizarre explanations for events and imprinting them in the children's brains. The worst case is that of a boy whose implant seems to be reasoning from the premise that every event the boy witnesses is being caused by his pet cat. The characters consider the child a hopeless case and consider euthanizing him - until he gets bored, picks up the cat, and Reality Warps himself out of the hospital.
- In Diana Wynne Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm, Dirk's cats, which he bred to be invisible, are also inexplicably unable to be trapped for long, they always find their way out, even from magical barriers.
"Did you know your cat can walk through walls?"
- She's fond of this trope, as it also appears in several of her short stories "What the Cat Told Me" and "Little Dot", as well as the Chrestomanci chronicles with the Asheth Temple Cats in The Lives Of Christopher Chant, the powerful tomcat in The Magicians Of Caprona, and the Pinhoes' family cat in The Pinhoe Egg.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, a kitten appears in places it should be impossible to do so, apparently because it can shrug off the laws of physics.
- The cat from Stephen King's film "Cats Eye" definitely applies here
- In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy, there is Mogget, the sarcastic, fish-demanding, white feline servant of the Abhorsens who is actually Yrael, one of the Nine Bright Shiners, and a free magic creature, bound by a ring. Kerrigor, a powerful necromancer, is bound along with Mogget by the same ring and becomes a sleeping black cat.
- Enchanted Forest Chronicles - Morwen's cats
- The Cheshire cat.
- The book Never Steal A Magic Cat.
- Also in Patricia A. McKillip's The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Sybel has a magical menagerie which includes the huge black cat Moriah, who is legendary for her knowledge of spells and secret charms.
- Robert Asprin lampshaded this in one of the Myth Adventures books: "Cats and computers can work through dimensions."
- Subverted in Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde story "Arcanum 101." When Di is observing the house of someone she believes may be involved in black magic, she sees a cat wander past the house with no reaction... and thinks to herself that this doesn't mean anything because, superstitions notwithstanding, cats are too self-absorbed to notice magic that isn't affecting them directly.
- Mrs. Norris of Harry Potter. She seems to have some kind of psychic link to her master (which is odd because he himself has no magic). Or him showing up a few minutes after she catches children being mischievous is a complete coincidence.
- Hermione's cat Crookshanks is part normal cat, part magical creature called a Kneazle. As a result he is able to see through Sirius's Animagus form and is much more intelligent than a regular cat.
- The Ghatti's Tale books feature cats with psychic powers who bond with humans. Humans partnered with cats act as arbiters because of the felines' ability to "mindwalk." The Ghatti, however, are noted as being natives of their planet and distinct from "normal" Earth-origin cats despite sharing many similarities.
- Warrior Cats. When cats die, they go to StarClan, where they can enter living cats' dreams, influence real-world events by creating omens, and even enter the physical world from time to time.
- In the aptly named "Ghost Story", Harry Dresden's cat Mister proves able not only to see ghosts, but to physically shoulder-check them and be stopped midair by it. It's explained all cats are able to see ghosts they just don't find it interesting usually.
- Harry also remarks at one point that cats tend to be the preferred choice of pets by wizards because they are one of, if not the only, mortal creature that can pass through the barrier of a magic circle without breaking it.
- The cat in The Last Unicorn knew exactly what was going on. It could have saved everyone a lot of time by telling Molly how to save the unicorns without incorporating a riddle, but "no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer."
- In another Peter S. Beagle example, Mister Cat from Tamsin is the one to find the ghosts in the first place, and leads Jenny to them.
- In the Toby Daye series. all cats are loyal to the local King of Cats, aware of magic, and much smarter than they let on. And this is the ordinary non-magical cats. There are also the Cait Sith, who are cat fae and outside the normal fae laws for being cats.
- In Saki's short story "Tobermory", Tobermory magically becomes able to talk, and horrifies a group of party guests by tattling on all the sins that he's been spying on over the years.
- Robert Westall's fiction was often built on this trope. The Cats of Seroster is all about magical cats and short stories, The Creatures In The House and Fred, Alice and Aunty Lou involve cats having powers to perceive things beyond what humans can.
- In Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher novels cats are mentioned to be the only species of animal apart from dragons to actively seek out magical Intersections which radiate Power, and rest in them, although no-one knows what they do with the Power they gather by doing so.
- In the Thursday Next Series, the Cheshire Cat is the Librarian of the Great Library of all books ever written and not written. He can appear anywhere, in any world, fictional or real. He also has the ability to say how many and who is reading any of his books at any time. He is watching you!
- Bastet herself appears in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel and can command an army of cats that transform into humanoid soldiers.
- In the Rainbow Magic series, Trixie the Halloween Fairy and Lara the Black Cat Fairy have magic cats that help them out.
- Sofie Kelly's The Magical Cat Mysteries is a mystery series featuring two cats, Owen and Hercules, that can turn invisible and walk through solid objects like doors and walls. They can also understand human speech and contribute to solving murder mysteries.
- Yil's pet alafin in Tough Magic, Holois, is a large, intelligent, purple cat with wings.
- Salem, from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He was originally a warlock, but was transformed into a cat as punishment for trying to take over the world.
- In episode "Fresh Bones" of The X-Files, Chester Bonaparte, a young Haitian boy, disappears very suddenly near a pier as Mulder is chasing him, and only a black kitten is seen meowing at the end of the pier. The black kitten appears at the climax of the episode, implying the kitten is Chester who has been Dead All Along.
Myth and Legend
- Ancient Egyptians worshiped the goddess Bast, who was cat-headed and held cats to be sacred. At some points in ancient Egypt, harming cats carried the death penalty.
- In Japan cats are said to give good fortune, which is why you see welcome/lucky/beckoning cats (white ceramic cats with a gold coin and one raised paw) in some establishments. The lower paw (which is often holding a coin) is to protect money, and the raised paw draws money in.
- A black cat crossing your path is said to be bad luck in most of continental Western Europe
- On the British Isles Black Cats have better press for some reason and are usually associated with good luck
- A woman with a cat, especially a black one, will have more suitors.
- In Scotland, the arrival of a strange black cat to a house is supposed to signal good fortune for everyone in the household. There's also a type of fairy called the cat sith, which appears as a dog-sized black cat with a patch of white fur on its chest. In some legends, the cat sith is said to be a witch with the power to transform into a cat nine times.
- The urban legend that shelters won't allow black cats to be adopted around Halloween in case they're killed and tortured ritualistically (the former is true, the latter is unsubstantiated).
- Ship's cats (especially black ones) were said to be lucky by sailors, although pirates often believed that a ship which had a black cat walk on then off was doomed to sink. The ascribed good luck, at least, is probably more attributable to the fact that ships traditionally have rat problems than any magic, however.
- In Norse Mythology, Frejya is accociated with cats.
- Many modern Pagans, including Wiccans, hold cats in high esteem. In Wiccan rituals, it is believed a cat can walk through a magic circle without breaking it, since cats can walk through spiritual/magical borders. Another animal, like say a dog, would break the circle and thus dispel any magic.
- Cats are believed in some cultures and traditions to be able to see spirits and ghosts.
- Call of Cthulhu, which draws from Lovecraft canon.
- Bast is an Elder God and the basis for the Egyptian pantheon's version.
- Dreamlands supplement. In the Dreamlands, cats can travel to the Moon on their own power and have a secret language. They worship Bast.
- Aside from from the entire world being implied to exist in some in-between realm, Mistoffelees from Cats, who uses his magical powers to save Old Deuteronomy from Macavity. There are also a few other cats who are hinted to have magical powers, such as Macavity himself, and Coricopat and Tantomile.
- Mistoffelees can also change the lights, levitate objects, teleport things, and can make kittens appear out of nowhere.
- The cats of Fallen London can talk and know many secrets. Then there's the mysterious Starveling Cat, which is mostly referenced in cautionary rhymes and seems to be a sort of bogeyman (bogeycat?).
- Grimalkins in GrimGrimoire, cat familiar units that act as the Squishy Wizard in your army.
- Dragon Quest games have the Meowgician class of enemies.
- Felineko of Solatorobo are stated to have a gift with magic, possessing both interest and talent.
- Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: Ser Pounce-A-Lot, a cat that can be given as a gift to Anders and when used as an item in combat can revive fallen party members.
- Both Mew and Mewtwo from Pokémon are capable of powerful psychic attacks. Mewtwo itself is also capable of speaking telepathically to humans. Both are cat-like creatures with Mew resembling some sort of pink fetus-like kitten and Mewtwo resembling a mutant humanoid feline.
- Espeon is loosely based off of a Nekomata, a two-tailed cat of Japanese folklore that had psychic powers.
- Landorus's "Therian Forme" is that of a feline-like creature.
- Generation VI introduces Espurr and it's evolution, Meowstic.
- Submachine: The game's backstory reveals that Murtagh discovered a cat with the apparent power to move between the layers of reality that he named Einstein, and wondered later if perhaps all cats can do this.
- The Cheshire cat from Alice Is Dead, an unholy amalgamation of a little girl and a dimensionally unstable cat.
- Spark from Dominic Deegan is a cat who can talk, which causes some people to believe that he's possessed.
- Rose, who is arguably the most magical of the four kids in Homestuck, prototyped her dead cat Jasper to her kernelsprite, and also made a genetic sequence using the letters MEOW (instead of the typical GCAT) which can be spliced with other DNA to create godlike entities.
- After the universe is rebooted, we meet an actual GCat, likely made with a BARK sequence. The G, of course, stands for God, since, as a First Guardian, GodCat is pretty much omnipotent.
- All cats in Stand Still, Stay Silent are magical. They are the only mammals who are 100% immune to the Plague, and moreover, they can sense if somebody caught it or if there's troll, beast or giant in the vicinity. In the After the End setting of webcomic, this makes them probably the most valuable element of society. They are even trained to alert humans properly and dispose of vermin beasts so that they won't spread the sickness.
- Errant Story has the flying black cat, Ellis. He's extremely resilient to offensive magic and can also talk... which is not necessarily a good thing.
- Poe from Neko the Kitty Comics can speak English, levitate, and has minor telekinetic powers. Explained in this strip: Poe was accidentally sucked into an ethereal conduit when the witch Julia was attempting to summon a lesser demons. Demons are unable to possess cats, so when they manifested together in the summoning circle the demon died, leaving Poe with his magical abilities.
- The two specialists in Spare Keys for Strange Doors own a cat (called "Fat Cat") who can see the ghost of Andrew Cole in the storyline "After Death Hang-Ups". And be aggrieved that he can't sit in Andrew's lap.
- Basement Cat, and Ceiling Cat!
- To elaborate: LOLCats, over the years, have accrued a small mythology. Ceiling Cat, based off a picture of a cat that was stuck in between the walls of an apartment that was rescued when a hole was cut in the ceiling, is considered the God of Lolcats. Basement Cat is just any random black cat, and is considered the Devil. There are others, such as Longcat, who can stretch to any length and is sometimes depicted in an epic battle with its Evil Twin, Tacgnol.
- In the second season of W.I.T.C.H. Lillian's cat Napoleon becomes her familiar after her Heart of Earth powers manifest, the most prominent effect on him being his ability to speak after she wishes they could a have a conversation together. Before this he was just a regular cat given to Cornelia by Will, so he wasn't inherently magical. Later, he gets the ability to change into a seven-foot tall cat monster after becoming a Regent of Earth.
- In ThunderCats (2011) The Catfolk of The Empire of Thundera owe their dominance in a World of Funny Animals to possession of the magical Sword of Omens containing the Amulet of Concentrated Awesome, the Eye of Thundera, and their Church Militant order of Clerics are also Kung-Fu Wizard/Magic Knights that possesses magical Super Speed and Super Reflexes.
- In all of his incarnations, Felix the Cat navigates a surreal, near-magical animated world with no problem, aided by his Genre Savvy, his status as an Invincible Hero, and his nigh-unquenchable stock of Applied Phlebotinum.
- In The Smurfs special "My Smurfy Valentine", Azrael has the power to lead Chlorhydris through the Forest of Poison Thorns in order to get to a special magical wishing well because he was born with royal blood in his veins. Surprisingly, this turns out to be true, as in Season 9's "Mummy Dearest", the time-lost Smurfs meet his distant ancestor, the cat pharaoh Azra.
- Mirage, an anthropomorhic panthress from Aladdin: The Series, exemplifies both this trope and Cats Are Mean; she's an Evil Sorceress and one of the series' most dangerous villains.