Feline Friday is my chance to celebrate famous cats across the arts, whether their origins are in gaming, film, anime, literature or anywhere else.
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The Cat in the Hat
First Appearance: The Cat in the Hat (1957)
In the echelons of Dr. Seuss significance (henceforth Seussnifigance), there’s a 1A/1B situation at the very top — with the undisputed kings being the Grinch and today’s subject, the Cat in the Hat.
Me personally, I was always more of a Grinch stan. I found his story to be truly relatable: he hates everyone and wants to ruin the happiest day of the year. It’s a narrative I can get behind. As for the Cat in the Hat, he’s something of an enigma, causing massive property damage and recklessly endangering the lives of children and a small fish for the lols. He’s no less a jerk, just one without clear motives.
It all goes down one blustery day when a girl named Sally and a boy whose parents didn’t love him enough to give him a name are alone at home. They’re ever so bored, and desperately want something fun to do. Shall they play with jacks? Or hold their breath? Maybe they could shoot up meth?
Then, the eponymous Cat in the Hat comes bursting in, no doubt reeking of liquor and cheap cigars. He offers to show them some of his tricks (don’t worry, he’s already naked, so there’s no funny business in store for Sally and boy child).
Their pet fish is livid. “Get fucked, you scumbag,” he roars at the top of his
lungs gills. The kids, however, aren’t quite as stoic as the fish, and they fall for the Cat’s little scam. It starts small at first — it always does — with a balancing act that places the fish at a precarious height.
Once it all comes toppling down, the Cat quickly ups the ante, introducing a pair of Things that proceed to wreck shit in a manner that would make even Keith Moon blush. Boy child solves the issue in the most obvious manner, by snagging the Things in a net, and the jig is up.
The Cat in the Hat departs at first, lumping the children and their pet fish with the destruction and false promises he left in his wake. Their mother is a stone’s throw away, and they’ve got some explaining to do. Was it a tsunami? Or a bold new game? Sally should blame boy child, he doesn’t even have a name!
But wait! The Cat in the Hat returns, astride a machine that immediately cleans the whole mess. Crisis averted, he makes his final exit, moments before the mother returns. She asks the kids what they got up to that day, and they sit at a critical juncture. One might be inclined to respond with just how slow this woman is if the Cat was able to right things by the time she got to the front door, but the book instead posits the following question: “What would you do if your mother asked you?”
I’d say, “lock the door mom, there’s an evil, giant cat outside and he’s out for blood”.
The Cat in the Hat was a critical and commercial success, and became synonymous with the literary legend of Dr. Seuss (henceforth Seussnonymous). The story would be retold via various mediums throughout the years, ranging from a horrifying live action movie starring an uncanny Mike Myers to a Soviet cartoon that omitted the Things entirely and stripped Sally of her very identity.
An academic analysis on GradeSaver observed of the character: “While embodying chaos and anti-authoritarianism, the Cat’s intentions are not misguided or inappropriate. He simply wants to show two children—who have surrendered to their boredom amid the rainy weather and their mother’s absence—how to amuse themselves with ordinary items in their house”.
It sounds a little rosy by my estimate, though I am intrigued by the fact that someone did a scholarly breakdown of the Cat in the fucking Hat and therefore will be more lenient in my judgement.
Perhaps this prancing antihero is simply a colourful embodiment of the id that lurks within us all. His impulsive antics are little more than overeager attempts at parley, having identified a mutual enemy in the boredom that consumes the characters. All except that bitch ass fish, whose lot in life is merely to undermine the efforts of others.
I wonder if GradeSaver would accept my contribution? My prices are reasonable, and I can work the word ‘fuck’ into at least 20% of paragraphs!