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Literature / Joe Grey

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Joe Grey is the eponymous protagonist of a series of novels by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, starting with Cat on the Edge (1996).

Joe Grey was an ordinary tomcat. He spent his days hunting mice, fighting for alley scraps, and being the top cat in his home, favored by his owner, Clyde.

Then one day he witnesses a murder. Soon afterward, he starts realizing he's having rational thoughts like a human and that he can understand human speech. And then he realizes that he's able to speak it, too. He meets a fellow feline, Dulcie, who has had the same thing happen to her. However, they don't have the luxury of being able to revel in their newfound abilities: the killer saw Joe at the murder scene, and is killing any cats he can get his hands on. Joe is the only one who is able to solve the murder, so he and Dulcie team up to catch the killer and save their own lives.


Later on, the two of them make it a habit to solve local crimes, and, joined by a young cat named Kit, they become regular anonymous snitches... as long as they can keep their secret abilities hidden.

This book provides examples of:

  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: After realizing he can understand human speech and that he is thinking like a human, Joe wonders if it's just a dream, the result of eating a bad mouse the night before.
  • Animorphism: Kate, able to turn into a cat. At first it's involuntary and she doesn't even remember doing it, just awakening as a human, but later she realizes she has control over it. When the right foreign words are said, though, the transformation is involuntary.
  • Cats Are Mean: When they feel like it.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Especially Joe.
  • Cats Are Superior
  • Cat Up a Tree: Used by Joe and Dulcie as a distraction technique, such as in the second book, Cat Under Fire. They're far too intelligent to really get stuck.
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  • Heroes Want Redheads: Clyde dates redhead Charlie Getz for several books. Later on she marries his best friend Max Harper.
  • Intellectual Animal
  • Make the Dog Testify: Discussed - Joe and Dulcie have discussed that they can't exactly go in the courtroom to testify, and they also have to be quite careful when giving the police tips about evidence - such as the time they found a watch buckled to a cat's skeleton in a drain pipe, too small for a human to fit in, too far back for a flashlight to reach so they couldn't use "I was walking my pet nearby and he ran up to this drainpipe" as an excuse to tell the cops how they found it.
  • Mysterious Informant: Joe, Dulcie, and Kit.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Communication: Level 4. Some cats can speak to humans, but not all, and no other species has the ability.
  • Talking Animal