Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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All the Cats Join In

Dorothy was accompanied to Oz by a dog in Wizard, a chicken in Ozma, and a cat in Dorothy and the Wizard. Since Dorothy begins the story in California, on her way back from Australia, it's likely that she found the kitten in Australia. Dorothy names her pet Eureka, as it means "I found it." When we first see Eureka, whom Dorothy had been keeping in a birdcage, she appears to be pink in color. The Kansas girl assures her companion Zeb that Eureka is actually a white kitten, but the odd light of the Mangaboo suns makes her appear pink. The feline is a quite difficult character with a sassy attitude, who makes no bones about the fact that she wants to eat one of the Wizard's Nine Tiny Piglets. When the party reaches the Emerald City, Eureka actually tries to eat the piglet that the Wizard had given to Ozma as a present, and the ruler puts her on trial for the crime. It isn't until Eureka is declared guilty that she reveals that she was unable to eat the piglet, as it had gotten itself trapped in a vase. Since the cat did intend to devour the young swine, however, she remained in disgrace while in Oz, and Ozma eventually transported her to Kansas with Dorothy. There's no indication that Eureka comes to live in Oz with Dorothy, Toto, Uncle Henry, and Aunt Em in Emerald City, yet she's living at the palace in Patchwork Girl, and now actually pink in color. Other references in later books confirm Eureka's presence and pinkness, but Dorothy also mentions her "purple kitten" in Glinda, even though she specifically refers to Eureka as pink when talking to Queen Coo-ee-oh. As if matters weren't complicated enough, Dorothy talks about her white kitten in Lost King, and Eureka is drawn as white on the cover of Ozmapolitan. In Eric Shanower's Secret Island, however, she's pink throughout. A few authors have addressed the issue of Eureka's mysterious color change, and sometimes how she returned to Oz as well. Here are the explanations I can remember:

  • In March Laumer's Careless Kangaroo, which takes place in between Emerald City and Patchwork Girl, the Shaggy Man makes a trip to the United States to retrieve Eureka. She's colored pink while on Sky Island, and decides she prefers that color.
  • Glenn Ingersoll's "The Piglets' Revenge," published in the 1984 issue of Oziana, has the piglets essentially dyeing Eureka pink.
  • In Chris Dulabone's Colorful Kitten, Eureka's color changes are due to her wearing a magic amulet through a time tunnel. This explanation does not limit Eureka's colors to white and pink, thereby explaining the "purple kitten" reference.
  • David Hulan's Eureka is probably the most complete chronicle of the cat's life, explaining that she secretly accompanied Dorothy and her friends to Oz in Road, but separated from the party and went to live with Professor Nowitall for a few years. Her fur turned pink when she caught a tixie, one of the odd creatures that keep the different sections of Oz properly color-coded. The professor defends Eureka in front of Ozma, and the cat is allowed to become a member of the ruler's household.

The other cat who plays a major role in the Oz books is the Glass Cat, introduced in Patchwork Girl. She's brought to life by Dr. Pipt, and given a ruby heart and pink brains. The Pipts intended to have her catch mice for them, but she was too proud and haughty to do so. Because of this, the magician's wife Margolotte named her Bungle, which remains her official name despite the fact she prefers not to use it. She is very proud of her pink brains, which you can see work, and the Wizard tried to make her more humble by replacing them with clear brains. The experiment apparently didn't work out, however, as she has the pink brains again in Magic. Although she only plays major parts in two of the Famous Forty, she's been used quite a bit by more recent authors, having starring roles in Greg Gick's Bungle and the Magic Lantern, David Hulan's Glass Cat, and Gina Wickwar's Hidden Prince.

Dot and Tot of Merryland introduces the Valley of Pussycats in Merryland, home to a group of cats who live in flats and eat bread and cream (how they survive on that isn't clear). Their ruler is a Maltese named King Felis. In Thompson's Lost King, there's a much less friendly community of cats within Oz, known as Catty Corners. The inhabitants of this town are about the size of children, and hate boys and love witches. Interestingly enough, they're also ruled by a Maltese, albeit a queen instead of a king.

Also deserving of mention in this post is the Curious Cottabus, described in Kabumpo as being "as large as a pony, but shaped like a great overfed cat." Being shaped like a cat doesn't necessarily mean the Cottabus IS a cat, but Jack Snow seemed to think it was, referring to him in Who's Who as a cousin of the Cheshire Cat. It has a fan on the end of its tail, and carries around a porch rocker. The Cottabus lives on questions, and has to ask at least fifty every day in order to survive.

There are a few other cats mentioned in the Oz books, including Tattypoo's two-tailed cat and Princess Ozana's pet Felina. But the series actually features more big cats than housecats, and we'll probably look at one of the large variety tomorrow.
Tags: books, cats, characters, oz

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