Fantasy novels featuring talking cats, telepathic cats, sentient cats, intelligent cats, etc.?
December 18, 2012 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend to me some fantasy novels that feature talking, telepathic, or otherwise sentient cats. Ideally with human companions, but a society entirely composed of intelligent cats could be cool too. Thanks!
posted by Jacqueline to Media & Arts (53 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure how much it counts as "fantasy" but The Master and Margarita features an enormous talking cat (who is not always a cat.)
posted by griphus at 6:33 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

The starting point for this genre is arguably The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2012

If you care for YA fiction: The Book of Night with Moon by Diane Duane
posted by celare at 6:40 AM on December 18, 2012

Years ago I read a book like this called the Cats of Seroster. I don't remember whether it was good, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:41 AM on December 18, 2012

The Barque cats first appear in Anne McCaffrey's The Rowan (and IIRC appear regularly in the rest of the series). She later collaborated to write the story of their origin, in Catalyst and Catacombs.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:41 AM on December 18, 2012

The Ballad of Lost C'Mell by Cordwainer Smith (and a number of other stories by him as well).
posted by Logophiliac at 6:42 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

If old-fashoned science fiction is an acceptable genre, you might like the Green Millenium; or maybe not. But Fritz Leiber did have a cat fixation.
posted by aimedwander at 6:43 AM on December 18, 2012

He's not featured as much as I'd like, but there's a good talking cat in the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. (He may carry over into some of her other books, I'm not sure yet - I'm just reading through them for the first time now. But he's definitely in all four of those.)
posted by Stacey at 6:43 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Abhorsen Trilogy Box Set - He's not really a cat, but he takes the shape of one.
posted by pyro979 at 6:44 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr.
posted by misteraitch at 6:45 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're okay with short stories, Catfantastic is a cat-focused anthology.
posted by athenasbanquet at 6:46 AM on December 18, 2012

The Ghatti's Tale books by Gayle Greeno feature a group of people who have companion telepathic cats. The telepathic cats allow the Seekers to function as constable/judges.
posted by Adridne at 6:47 AM on December 18, 2012

When I was a kid, I really loved Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander (definitely a kid's book).

But as an adult, my favorite cat book is Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williamson, in which all of the characters are cats (it's like Watership Down but about cats).
posted by jb at 6:50 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

In Plain Kate, there's a wonderful talking cat.
posted by cider at 6:58 AM on December 18, 2012

Go old school with Andre Norton's Breed To Come.
posted by THAT William Mize at 7:02 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wonder if the Gandalara Cycle books will fit your bill. There's also the telepathic not-really-cats called 'treecats' in the Honorverse books.
posted by hanov3r at 7:05 AM on December 18, 2012

Coraline by Neil Gaiman has talking cat.
posted by rpn at 7:13 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ok, this is science fiction but this thread will not be complete without the seriously cool cats of C.J. Cherry's Chanur books. Lots of intrigue, fraught interactions with other alien species, and a human refugee who becomes a crew member.

Otherwise, definitely Tailchaser's Song, as mentioned above.
posted by Glinn at 7:15 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce are about a girl training to become a knight -- her sidekick animal is a psuedo-telepathic cat from the realms of the gods.
posted by Pwoink at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2012

More old-skool: James H Schmitz's Telzey Amberdon has a friend called Tick-Tock who is a telepathic cat--a very big one.
posted by Logophiliac at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2012

My 11-year old daughter is reading the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. There are dozens of these, and they seem to come out faster than she can read them (which is possible, since the "author" seems to be at least five different people), but so far she loves them.
posted by ubiquity at 7:21 AM on December 18, 2012

In David Weber's Honor Harrington series there's a species of telempathic cats adopted by humans as pets which figure significantly in some novels and make constant cameos as companions of various characters, including the main character.
posted by XMLicious at 7:24 AM on December 18, 2012

I haven't read the Tag the Cat books, but one of the couple behind the pseudonymous "Gabriel King" is M. John Harrison, who is a truly wonderful writer.
posted by neroli at 7:27 AM on December 18, 2012

I came in here to recommend Tailchaser's Song also.

Possibly not the age level you're looking for (although apparently plenty of reviews on Amazon say that adults enjoy them too!) but you might be interested in Ursula Le Guin's lovely Catwings series.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:30 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Meryl Yourish just started a YA fantasy series, The Catmage Chronicles. The first book is called "Darkness Rising." I don't know whether it's any good.
posted by Infinity_8 at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2012

Murakami's Kafka on the Shore features a couple of talking cats.
posted by jabes at 7:53 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Felidae by Akif Pirinçci is not strictly fantasy - in fact, it's really a crime novel - but it is very entertaining.

The Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis features a sentient cat, although the main characters are mice. (The series is called The Deptford Mice, after all.)
posted by smcg at 7:55 AM on December 18, 2012

Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series has sentient cat-beings in some of the later books (it's mostly sentient horse-beings, though).
posted by marginaliana at 8:04 AM on December 18, 2012

Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci books (YA/kids) have sentient/sometimes telepathic cats, but they're minor characters. The most cat-telepathy-ish one is Charmed Life.
posted by mskyle at 8:08 AM on December 18, 2012

A number of sentient cats in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books... mostly minor, but Maurice from The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents is a cat.

There are some in Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, only minor appearances in the first two books but they show up more in the third (and somewhat in the fourth) book.

Diana Wynne Jones has a bunch of minor cat characters, I think the most obviously sentient is in The Magicians of Caprona. (You might also like her books Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin, which have human-cat-bird griffins, and also sometimes cats.) [On preview, I haven't reread Charmed Life recently, so maybe I've forgotten.]

nthing: Book of Night with Moon and sequels, Catwings and sequels.

(On a side note, a lot of the previously mentioned are science fiction: the Barque cat books, Telzey, and Honor Harrington. If you want science fiction, I have tons more.)

By the way, I was using TV Tropes to jog my memory, so you can find even more there.
posted by anaelith at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding Cordwainer Smith, though I would encourage you to acquire his entire volume of short stories (there's only one), The Rediscovery of Man. I'd also suggest his novel as well (again, there's only one), Norstrilia. Cats feature very importantly in a lot of his writing.

The Rabbi's Cat is really terrific. Also, Red Dwarf (which is also a TV show) also features some very advanced cats, though I was never a particularly big fan.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2012

Go old school with Andre Norton's Breed To Come.

Many of her books had telepathic cats. Just look here. Is there a cat on the cover? Odds are it's telepathic.

If I were to pick one to start with, I would go for the classic - "The Beast Master".
posted by Quonab at 8:31 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came here to make sure Tailchaser's Song was mentioned. BTW, the author is Tad Williams, not Tad Williamson. I did also enjoy the Telzey Amberdon stories - as a bonus, they are full of strong female characters.
posted by fullerenedream at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Murakami's Kafka on the Shore features a couple of talking cats.

And is a really rough read if animal cruelty makes you sad.

Tanya Huff's Keeper's Chronicles features a sentient cat who is a sidekick to a woman with supernatural powers.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Accelerando, by Metafilter's Own™ Charlie Stross, features a robotic (and somewhat malevolent) cat that get smarter as the book goes on.

And if we can count the Chanur books, we shouldn't overlook Larry Niven's Known Space books with the Kzinti.
posted by adamrice at 8:52 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I forgot about Tanya Huff's Keeper series - that's a great cat. He talks, but he still acts like a cat. It's also just such a great, fun fantasy series (even comedic) - and set in Ontario!
posted by jb at 8:58 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mercedes Lackeys "Shipscat" short story series is excellent. They appeared in a number of short story collections, but per FictionWise's Shipscat listing, sells each of them as ebooks.

Seconding Tailchaser's Song, Anne McCaffrey's Barque cats and David Weber's treecats (especially featured in honorverse short story collections).

Lisanne Norman writes the Sholan Alliance series, which features a bipedal telepathic feline race in the process of evolving away from four-legged locomotion.

Also excellent, although the undoubtedly-sentient cats are slightly more tangential than in other stories, is Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe.
posted by bookdragoness at 9:11 AM on December 18, 2012

a society entirely composed of intelligent cats

You can find one of these in Kilgore Trout's Venus On The Half-Shell.
posted by Rash at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2012

Why settle for fantasy when you can read about the real thing? ;)
posted by Hanuman1960 at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2012

Carla Speed McNeil's Finder graphic novel series has a race of people who are lions. It is one of the most astonishing sci-fi/fantasy worlds I have ever read.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:23 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, Niven's Kzinti aren't exactly sweet and cuddly, and not exactly cats, but they are sentient felines.
posted by miss patrish at 9:27 AM on December 18, 2012

Sabriel and sequels, by Garth Nix, and Time Cat, by Lloyd Alexander.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2012

The Joe Grey cozy mystery series features talking and telepathic cats.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:23 AM on December 18, 2012

Timothy Findley's fantastic Not Wanted on the Voyage. Mottyl the cat is a wonderful character. It's a retelling of Noah's Arc, so maybe more magical than fantasy, but oh so good.
posted by Cuke at 5:29 PM on December 18, 2012

The Ghatti's tale series focuses upon a society of paired cats and humans.

The first book is Finders Keepers.

IIRC, there is quite a bit of material from the cat's perspectives :)
posted by Librarygeek at 7:47 PM on December 18, 2012

Not an actual cat, but an alien lifeform with some catlike qualities known as the Fuzzies (yeah... don't let that stop you) appeared first in the 1960s short "Little Fuzzy" by H. Beam Piper, but the story was "rebooted" in John Scalzi's recent novel, "Fuzzy Nation."

I won't tell you whether or not they're telepathic, sentient, intelligent, etc. Finding the answer is elemental to the plot. They initially appear to be intelligent, that's all I'll say.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:09 PM on December 18, 2012

Fool On The Hill by Matt Ruff.
posted by davidmsc at 10:19 PM on December 18, 2012

Not a fantasy novel, but I'll take this as an opportunity to recommend Murakami's Town of Cats
posted by taltalim at 10:51 AM on December 19, 2012

While I was at the used book store today I saw Magicats! (volume 2, edited by Jack Dann)--I don't know how many of the stories feature sentient cats, and I didn't buy it (they wanted 3$ for a mass-market paperback!!!), but surely in a whole anthology of magical cat stories there must be a few sentient/talking cats.

I also picked up The Godmother's Apprentice by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, which I now see is a sequel, the back blurb of which contains the line, "There's something weird about the pool, though, and the cat talks to me."

Also, Puss in Boots, or anything referencing Puss in Boots (like The Godmother's Apprentice).
posted by anaelith at 6:27 PM on December 19, 2012

This was my favorite fantasy genre as a kid; I read pretty much everything I could find in the scifi section with a cat on the cover, including most of the books already mentioned. I'll try to remember what else I read!

* Ratha's Creature by Clare Bell is the first in a series about intelligent big cats who herd prey animals and discover fire (the titular "creature"). Young adult series but probably not for little kids, as there is open discussion of cat sexuality.

* Catfantastic was actually an anthology series with at least 4 volumes, and I was into it in a big way. The story quality varies wildly but there was at least one keeper per book, and several authors wrote connected cat stories in multiple volumes. My favorites IIRC were stories about a space cat named SKitty and and a shared universe about pumas psychically linked to humans.

* The Catwings series by Ursula K. LeGuin is a children's series about, you guessed it, sentient cats with wings. Short but sweet.

* Many great recs already here, but I'll second the recs for Amazing Maurice and Tailchaser's Song, still some of my favorite books. In overeager fannish love I named several of my kittens after Tailchaser characters. Poor, poor Lord Grizraz Hearteater the gray fluffball.

There was a duology/trilogy of books similar to Tailchaser that I read for which I can't remember exact details; I'll google them when not on my phone. I think the first book was The White Road and the second The Golden Cat, or possibly White Cat and Golden Road. Anyway! I totally HATED them, because most of the cat-characters spoke in thick transliterated brogue-dialect (Welsh? Scottish?) that I found obnoxious and incomprehensible. But I can't remember actual plot quality, so it may/not be worth your time.

* Are you including werecats / cat-like humans in your query? Because there are vast masses of anime/manga/romance novels/etc devoted to sexy catgirls/catboys/sexy humans who turn into cats/cats who turn into sexy humans, and so on, if you need recs for those. (My favorite catboy is Kyou Sohma from Fruits Basket.)
posted by nicebookrack at 6:52 PM on December 19, 2012

Aha! It was The Wild Road / The Golden Cat by Gabriel King, as already mentioned here.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:02 PM on December 19, 2012

Try Adventures of a Cat-whiskered Girl by Daniel Pinkwater
posted by mikepop at 8:50 AM on December 20, 2012

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