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Literature / Felidae

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A novel of cats and murder.
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Felidae is a 1989 crime fiction novel by the German-Turkish writer Akif Pirinçci. Francis is a cat who has moved with his owner to a city in Germany. There, he comes across a mystery involving the murders of several neighborhood cats

There are eight books in the Felidae series: Felidae, Felidae II (also known as Felidae on the Road' or Francis), Cave Canem, Das Duell, Salve Roma!, Schandtat, Felipolis, and Göttergleich. Only Felidae, Felidae II, and Felidae V: Salve Roma! have been officially translated into English.

In 1994, the first book was infamously adapted into a German animated film named Felidae. It's gained a notoriety because violent xenofiction novels are seldom adaptated into film (nevermind, animated film).

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Felidae provides examples of:

  • All Dogs Are Purebred: In an extremely rare cat case, most of the cats are explicitly described as being of one particular breed or another (exceptions being Francis and Joker). Strangely, "European Shorthair" seems to be used as a synonym for "Domestic Shorthair/Longhair" (basically cats of mixed ancestry, also called "moggies"), despite the European Shorthair being a recognized breed. This is justified by "Cat Breeding Marches On" as in the late 80s to early 90s, when the first books were published, this usage was fairly common, and then the later books just rolled with it. Breed appearances can be hinted in the film adaption, but the art style makes some of them rather ambiguous:
    • Bluebeard is a Maine Coon, though his tail has been removed, which makes him look more like a Manx. He also possesses short fur in the film.
    • Felicity is a Russian Blue, though in the movie she possesses longer fur.
    • Isaiah is a Persian.
    • Kong is an enormous Himalayan, also known as a Colorpoint Persian, though he looks more like a gorilla mated to a bobcat.
    • The Hermanns are Oriental Shorthairs, though they are both inbred mutants and thus barely recognizable.
    • Pascal is a Havana Brown, though his movie appearance bears next to no resemblance to the breed. He fits the bill slightly better as a young cat, though.
    • As for Francis, a dream sequence in the second book suggests he is a European Shorthair (though this is questionable, as his coloration was very odd in the dream), and being mistaken for a wildcat hints that he's probably a gray or brown tabby, rather than the bicolor shown in the movie.
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    • Joker may be any large long-haired breed, as he appears/is described as being huge, long-haired, and white.
    • Nhozemptekh had the body shape and face of an Oriental Shorthair and some of the color-pointing and features of an Abyssinian, thought to be the one of the oldest domestic cat breeds.
  • Animal Talk:
    • The cats can communicate with each other and understand humans. Humans, however, can't understand them, and are completely oblivious to the murder mystery scenario. Claudandus was actually able to talk to Preterius by imitating human language, though.
    • Ambrosious in the second book claims to be able to speak to the animals of the woods, though it's unclear if he's being truthful or merely making it up. A mouse caught shortly thereafter reveals that he can talk in the cats' language.
    • Francis's conversations with the wildcat tribe and the lynx reveal that all felines (at least smaller felines) speak the same language (which makes sense, seeing as how most felines use extremely similar vocalizations and body language).
    • Further cemented in Salve Roma! when Francis travels to Rome. Aside from an occasional region-specific phrase, feline language is the same the world over, so Francis has no trouble communicating with the local cats.
  • Cat Stereotype: Felicity is a pampered and sweet pet Russian Blue.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Dams and their kittens die all over the place.
    • In the original novel, Francis has a nightmare where Deep Purple pulls a kitten out of his torn, bleeding throat, throws it against the wall, pulls out another kitten which bursts like a red paint balloon, and proceeds to splatter more kittens from his throat.
  • A Degree in Useless: Gustav is an Egyptologist, can't find a job, and no one wants to buy his books, so he has to write pornography for cheap magazines to make a living. In later books, he became more successful.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The first book does this often, probably due to translation.
  • Detective Animal: Francis, given that it's half the premise of the book. He's a cat trying to investigate murders in his new city.
  • First-Person Smartass: Francis narrates the books, making at times very snarky comments about the things happening, and especially about the habits of his owner. Occasionally he crosses over to Nostalgic Narrator as if he was telling the story somewhere in the future but it's never specified.
  • Mature Animal Story: Felidae is a serious Film Noir crime novel series starring normal domestic cats.
  • Shown Their Work: The author knows quite a bit about cats. This is shown not only in the books themselves, but in notes supplied at the back of the books to explain in detail some aspects of feline behavior and biology that are only given passing mention in the main story. He also has a good understanding of Mendelian genetics, one of the major elements of the plot. Also, back-breeding is a real phenomenon.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the first book, Francis delivers one to Claudandus/Pascal, during the latter's Motive Rant.
    Francis: You're the one who's really a human being! You think just like they do! You act just like they do! You only want to repeat all the misery they have brought to the world. You're dreaming not of real change but of establishing a new dictatorship paid for with hundreds and thousands of dead from your own ranks. and tell me what kind of a role you've thought up for the other animals species in your oh-so-very-wonderful never-never land? Come on, answer me!
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Claudandus had only developed his insane plan after being tortured by Preterius. The "Destroyer of Worlds" part is much more present here than the "Woobie" part though. Also, this trope is more present in the book than in the movie.
    • The second book gives us the wildcat tribe. Being brought into strange territory where they found it almost impossible to survive is what fueled the rage towards humans and domestic creatures alike, and eventually what led to the murders. As with Claudandus above, this is an arguable case.
  • Xenofiction: The cats can talk to one another but are largely treated as ordinary cats living in Germany.
  • You Are Number 6: Eight from the second book.

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