First Lines of Famous Novels, Rewritten by Cats

January 24, 2014

By Julia Williams

Ever since I could hold a book, I’ve been a voracious reader. That adoration for the almighty book evolved into a career of working with words, and although I’ve never written a novel, my love affair with words continues to shape every day of my life. I have even succumbed to digital books, and my kindle is now so full I could read a new novel every week for the rest of 2014.

Trolling the vast book offerings on Amazon, one trend simply can’t be ignored: cats are fast becoming some of the most popular authors of our time. Yes…cats. Those furry creatures previously content to sleep the day away, have now become prolific word chasers.

Cats have dipped their paws into many genres including self-help, humor and fiction. One day as I was reflecting on this, I asked myself “What if cats had been writing novels all along? What literary classics written by cats would sit on my shelf next to the timeless tomes of famous novelists?”

This led to pondering some famous first lines of novels, imagining what cats would have written instead. Then I thought, why not make a little quiz for you all, just for fun? See if you can guess which novels these 10 “catified” opening lines are  from. To make it easier, the names of the novels are below (scrambled). Answers are at the end – no peeking!

1. He was an old cat who trawled alone in the murky waters off the California Coast. He had gone an excruciatingly long half hour without catching a single fish, and starvation was imminent.

2. All kittens, except one, grow up to be cats who would rather spend their day napping on the couch instead of flying around with fairies in a fantasy world.

3. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a middle aged single woman in possession of a house full of felines, must be a crazy cat lady. Or maybe, she’s just crazy for cats.

4. In a hole in the ground there lived a gopher. This particular gopher had been taunting Fluffy for nigh on thirty days or so with his oozy rodent aroma, which wafted across the grassy meadow on the wind. Fluffy dreamt of nothing but getting that juicy gopher between her teeth, once and for all.

5. Boots McMillen was high on catnip. He was eloquently wasted, lovingly and pugnaciously blitzed on the nip.

6. Under certain circumstance there are few things more agreeable than the ceremony known as “afternoon catnap.” Unless it’s a mid-morning siesta in a sun puddle. Or a late night snooze-fest on the couch.

7. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any catnip mice under the tree,” hissed Fluffy as she groomed her luxuriously long fur in full view of the neighbor’s handsome mancat.

8. It was the best of kibble, it was the worst of kibble. But it was kibble nonetheless, which meant that for this one lonely night in a city full of noisy, hapless humans, the kitty’s belly was full.

9. This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, scrawny, fairly old stray cats in a back alley that was just steps away from a delicatessen but might as well have been on another planet for lack of the scraps that came their way.

10. There was no possibility of taking a catnap that day. For one thing, the humans had already ran the vacuum, aka the “suck monster of doom,” And then there was that ugly contraption with wire doors that sat ominously on the counter, waiting to whisk an unsuspecting kitty off to that place where evil humans in white coats did unmentionable things.

The Novels:

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (1880)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (1973)

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis (1926)

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (1911)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)

The Answers:

1. The Old Man and the Sea

2. Peter Pan

3. Pride and Prejudice

4. The Hobbit

5. Elmer Gantry

6. The Portrait of a Lady

7. Little Women

8. A Tale of Two Cities

9. Breakfast of Champions

10. Jane Eyre

How many did you get right?

If you enjoyed this quiz, be sure to check out Famous Movie Lines by Cats and Dogs from the CANIDAE RPO archives.

Top photo by dougwoods
Middle photo by admiller
Bottom photo by Larry Page

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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  1. DMatsuura says:

    Well I got two right – The Old Man and The Sea and Peter Pan. Not sure what that says about my literary tastes except those were books I was forced to read in High School. Some of the others I read for pleasure. Cute story idea. Diane @ CANIDAE

  2. meowmeowmans says:

    I got 7 of 10 before looking at the book titles, and then was able to get the other three by process of elimniation. I guess my degree in English/comparative literature was good for something after all. MOL!

  3. Great post and we at Zee & Zoey’s are very grateful to see that cat authors are becoming such a strong force in the literary world!

  4. Very good! The mom realizes that she hasn’t read some of these classics!

  5. What a lot of work to put these together and very clever!