H.P. Lovecraft was a cat lover. Actually that might just be too soft a word for Lovecraft’s feelings on cats. The man respected cats, revered cats, and considered them in many ways to be the equals of humans. In the treasured document entitled “Cats and Dogs” H.P. Lovecraft goes into depths about the superiority of cats, stating “The dog appeals to cheap and facile emotions; the cat to the deepest founts of imagination and cosmic perception in the human mind.” Another biting passage reads “Dog-lovers base their whole case on these commonplace, servile, and plebeian qualities, and amusingly judge the intelligence of a pet by its degree of conformity to their own wishes.” And possibly my favorite line “The dog is a peasant and the cat is a gentleman.” I would highly recommend reading the full essay as it is an interesting and funny read.
Cats also show up a few times in H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction. I believe they make their first appearance in The Cats of Ulthar. In this story a despicable old man and woman kill a kitten that was the beloved playmate of an orphaned child. As revenge the child curses the old couple and has all the cats of Ulthar devour them. A punishment that I think we can all agree was completely fair. The Cats of Ulthar show up again in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. In the Cats of Ulthar that cats are just normal cats (except for the eating people alive thing) but in this story they actually seem to have the ability to speak and we get to known the cats a little more personally than before. The protagonist Carter is kind to a black kitten, giving it pets and rich cream. After endearing himself to the kitten Carter is captured and an army of cats saves him. They also later in the story start a war with the Zoogs after a few cats ate several Zoogs. Carter doesn’t seem to care for any of the inhabitants of the dream realm except for the cats so after hearing the Zoogs plan he quickly informs the cats. I have to wonder how much of this character is informed by Lovecraft’s own personality. This entire story sounds like I’m talking about an acid trip but no this is something Lovecraft actually wrote and it’s beautiful.
Going back to his seminal work “Cats and Dogs” Lovecraft often brings up the Egyptians and their worship of cats. He also brings up other periods of history and their relation with cats or dogs is reflected on the prosperity of that time period. What Lovecraft learned and what all humans need to learn is that cats just might be the true gods bringing prosperity to the land in exchange for food, scratching posts, and protection from the scoundrel dogs. Truly we humans also have something to learn from cats. The cat has dignity and is self-possessed, needing no one. The cat will not take your bullshit nor that of anyone else. We should all strive to be more cat-like.
So my dear friends if you ever venture into the world for some long and parlous journey remember to pet every cat you see along the way or better yet give them a nice bowl of milk. It is always better to have a cat as a friend and not as an enemy.