A Nod to Crookshanks on National Cat Day

crookshanksfeature

Oct 29, 2017

Posted by: Kim McChesney | Comments

Art, Companion Books, Fun, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Holidays, Misc, News, Pottermore

Who among us is actually reading their new copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and not just ogling each of the exquisite illustrations, drawn so masterfully by artist Jim Kay? Each page brings the third book to life in a way different than the original and the film before it.  If you are reading Prisoner of Azkaban again (probably for the third or fourth time at least) you may have reached chapter 17 “Cat, Rat and Dog” when the reader discovers just how incredibly brilliant Hermione’s cat Crookshanks truly is. Although Crookshanks, who was played by then ten-year old female Persian rescue, Pumpkin, was only part cat, part magical catlike creature Kneazle, we think he is worthy of honor on this feline holiday, National Cat Day.

crookshanksdrawingpoa

Image credit: Jim Kay from the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Many Potter enthusiasts will agree at this point that Crookshanks didn’t originally get the props he deserved from the residents of Hogwarts or the fandom, and certainly not from Harry and Ron. In fact, Hermione spent much of year three defending the virtues of her new pet:

via GIPHY

Ron:

“You bought that monster?”

Hermione:

“He’s gorgeous, isn’t he?”

It certainly appeared that Crookshanks wasn’t out to win any friends when he entered the scene in Diagon Alley and who can really blame Ron for feeling protective over his rodent companion, Scabbers, but after all, isn’t one definition of the word rat “one who betrays”?

We had no knowledge of Crookshanks’ parentage when Prisoner of Azkaban was first written, but now the description from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them of Hermione’s cat as part Kneazle makes perfect sense:

“The Kneazle is intelligent, independent and occasionally aggressive, though if it takes a liking to a witch or wizard, it makes an excellent pet. The Kneazle has an uncanny ability to detect unsavoury or sus-picious characters and can be relied upon to guide its owner safely home if they are lost.”

In hindsight, we know the four-legged furball knew better, even than Dumbledore, who was friend and who was foe right from the start, as evidence of these instances from book three. First with Scabbers on the Hogwarts Express:

“Crookshanks had now settled in an empty seat, his squashed face turned towards Ron, his yellow eyes on Ron’s top pocket.”

And in chapter eight when Crookshanks is on the prowl once again:

“There’s something funny about that animal! It heard me say that Scabbers was in my bag!”

Crookshanksontrain

Photo: © J.K. Rowling/Pottermore Ltd. TM Warner Bros.

Then again by the proof of his fast friendship with Padfoot, a.k.a. Sirius, on Hogwarts grounds,

“He’s friends with that dog,” said Harry grimly. “Ive seen them together.”

And certainly witnessing the quarrel at the Shrieking Shack,

“…Crookshanks sank his claws into Black’s robes and wouldn’t shift. He turned his ugly, squashed face to Harry, and looked up at him with those great yellow eyes… Harry stared down at Black and Crookshanks, his grip tightening on the wand. So what if he had to kill the cat, too? It was in league with Black…”

crookshanksdefendssirius

 

 Fan art above from  furrypink_lupus (indicated here)

Pottermore even went as far as to include Crookshanks in their list of unsung heroes earlier this year,

“Can cats receive the Order of Merlin? If not, they should. Here’s our case for Crookshanks, and why he deserves more praise.”

So now that we’re re-reading the tale of Harry’s third year from our magnificently crafted new book, laid open with its generous weight on our lap or the desk in front of us, the consensus surely is that Crookshanks performed some impressive Gryffindor-esque deeds and perhaps was the ultimate hero of the story. So now that’s settled, what about the theories we’ve heard murmurs of over the years on Crookshanks as an Animagus?

–The most common theory is that this particular red-haired kitty with the piercing green eyes is none other than Lily Potter, back from the dead to protect her son and foil Voldemort’s return to power.

–There’s a more recent, and perhaps more plausible hypothesis floating around about Crookshanks’ original owners that goes something like this:

When Harry, Ron, and Hermione are in Grimmauld Place in Deathly Hallows, Harry reads a letter written by Lily to Sirius. She mentions in the letter that the family had a cat that Harry almost flattened riding the miniature broomstick given to him by his Godfather. Their pet disappeared after she and James were killed by Voldemort.

Then when Hermione buys her cat from the Magical Menagerie in Prisoner of Azkaban, the owner tells her that Crookshanks had been there for “quite some time” which certainly could correspond to the twelve years from the attack until the beginning of the third book.

Right after Hermione purchases Crookshanks, the cat recognizes Scabbers as Peter Pettigrew and later the big black dog as Sirius, from frequent visits both paid to the Potter’s when he lived with them. Thus his mission to champion his former masters’ confidant and exterminate the rat.

lilylettertosirius

–And just one more proposition as “cat” food for thought:

What about another uber-protective ginger-haired mother hen who may have realized she was unintentionally harboring a murderer right under her nose, “burrowed” in her son’s bed? We all know who not to cross if the safety of her children is at stake! Could Molly Weasley and Crookshanks be one and the same?

Do you have any other speculation on Crookshanks as an Animagus? What about a favorite Harry Potter feline? Will you be celebrating one of your own furry friends today? If so post a pic of you and your cat for National Cat Day!





The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.