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Literature / Catwings

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Mrs. Jane Tabby is a young cat who has four unusual kittens. Her children were all born with wings. Though Jane doesn't understand why her kittens were born with wings, she's grateful that they're able to fly far from the city they were born in. However, the cats find that rural life is harder than expected.

Catwings is a children's book series by Ursula K. Le Guin and illustrated by S.D. Schindler. There are 4 books released between 1988 and 1999: Catwings, Catwings Return, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, and Jane on Her Own.


Catwings provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Mrs. Jane Tabby worries considerably when her youngest child is discovered by humans and ends up separated from her, escaping into a building that neither the humans or her mother can get into. She is very relieved when she finds James and Harriet, having come back to visit, have also managed to rescue their sister.
  • Long-Lost Relative: In Catwings Return, Harriet and James return to the city. They find a lost winged kitten who turns out to be their little sister.
  • Ominous Owl: One of the birds in the forest is an owl who attacks and injures James after seeing him flying and deciding that "This won't do". From then on, she stays by their roost at night, forcing them to only hunt during the day in order to stay safe.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There are two Jane's in the same family: Mrs. Jane Tabby and her youngest daughter Jane (who her older siblings name after their mother).
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  • Stray Animal Story: Mrs. Jane Tabby is a stray cat living in city slums. She gives birth to four winged children: Harriet, Thelma, James, and Roger. Catwings Return sees her find a home with an older lady, allowing her to live in peace and comfort.
  • Title Drop: Late in the first book, the human girl Susan calls to the siblings with "Kitty kit-kit-kit-kit-kit-kit-cat, kitty-cat, kitty-wings, kittywings, catwings!" She uses a shortened version, still ending in "catwings", in book 2 when calling them to be fed.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: The series stars four (and later five) cats born with wings on their back.

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