Suspense Thriller Romance: Who LOVES fur babies?

Suspense Thriller Romance: Who LOVES fur babies?

Dogs and Cats in Fiction: Who doesn't love it?

Dogs and cats have undoubtedly captured readers' hearts with their unique personalities and symbolic meanings for eons. We're moving past suspense thrillers for this blog but, hey, why not? From ancient myths to contemporary novels, our loved ones with fur, feathers, scales, etc. have served as more than mere pets; they have risen to the station of integral characters, shaping narratives and evoking profound emotions in readers.

Child's-cuteness can bring on reader's weepies and that's doubly true with a faithful companion who has never, ever done anything but what he or she believes will please you. Slipper mauling excluded, of course, although what is more charming than a pet that loves you SO much that he or she is willing to risk your wrath to scent mark the shoes you wear everywhere? That's love. 

Popular Dogs in Fiction

Classic Literature

In classic circles, dogs were typically representation sof loyalty and fidelity. Characters like Lassie from Eric Knight's "Lassie Come-Home" convey that much coveted, unwavering devotion, as they undergo undying trials and extraordinary journeys to reunite with their owners. Such LOVE. Jack London's "The Call of the Wild" portrays Buck, a muscled sled dog whose journey from domestication to wildness reflects the human struggle for self-discovery and the ability to conquer!

Modern Fiction

Dogs continue to play significant roles in the modern era, often serving as companions to protagonists or catalysts for change. Enzo in Garth Stein's "The Art of Racing in the Rain," explores human nature with amazing insights. Marley in John Grogan's "Marley & Me," highlights the joys and challenges of pet ownership with ongoing antics. But then furbabies of all kinds resonate with readers of all ages. And that's as it should be as pets can reach the loneliest of hearts where no other can. Pet therapy is a very real and fruitful exercise. 

Cats in Folklore and Mythology

Cats have also left their mark on literature, appearing in folklore and mythology as enigmatic creatures with mystical qualities. In ancient Egyptian mythology, cats were revered as symbols of protection and fertility, embodied by deities like Bastet. Similarly, in European folklore, cats are often associated with magic and mystery, depicted as cunning and elusive beings in tales such as "Puss in Boots."

I'm a fan of mystical cat lore as I swear there is more going on behind those winking eyes than we'd ever imagine. Are our cats keeping watch on us to ensure we'll remain safe against more than mice and dreaded boredom? You decide!

Cats in Contemporary Fiction

Cats are portrayed in a variety of roles in this modern era. They can embody myriad characteristics from those of aloof companions to fierce protectors. Kitties like Crookshanks in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series and Church in Stephen King's "Pet Semetery" possess an air of mystery and intelligence, adding depth and enjoyment to both tales.

I still struggle with substituting an S for the C in cemetery. But Mr. King preferred to send a playful reminder that children are the keepers of this sacred ground. Shout out if you're a fan of Stephen King. I am sometimes. Depends on my mood.

Loyalty vs. Independence in Canine Characters

Dogs are commonly associated with loyalty and devotion. Our dogs reflect the human desire for companionship and trust. In contrast, cats are often portrayed as independent and enigmatic, symbolizing freedom and self-reliance. They reject us and we love it. Or tolerate it at least. This dichotomy between loyalty and independence adds layers of complexity to literary narratives, enriching themes of friendship, love, and personal growth. 

I'm of the mind that cats are more discriminating when it comes to choosing their friends. As such, I'm doubly rewarded when my kitties hit me with a head-rubbing drive by or snuggle down for cuddles. 

Good vs. Evil

It's unfair, true, but dogs and cats are sometimes used to symbolize moral concepts such as good and evil. Dogs, with their steadfast loyalty and protective instincts, are frequently aligned with heroic characters or virtuous qualities. Meanwhile, cats, with their mysterious demeanor and unpredictable nature, may symbolize ambiguity or moral ambiguity within a story. 

We just rewatched Bell, Book, and Candle here at home. The classic movie features Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, and a sly-eyed Siamese beauty named Pyewacket. Siamese cats were trending high in the late 50s and thus the sleek feline--played by half a dozen cats or so--was the embodiment of occult power that left Kim Novak's character when she finally allowed herself to 'fall in love' with Jimmy Stewart. That Darned Cat with Haley Mills came out in '65 and featured...drum roll...a Siamese cat. Disney's Lady and the Tramp featured 2-evil Siamese cats. See what sentiments can be conveyed by way of animal? 

Impact of Dogs and Cats on Plot Development

Companion Characters

Dogs and cats often serve as companions to protagonists, offering emotional support and companionship throughout their journeys. Whether they're providing comfort during difficult times or aiding in solving mysteries, these animal companions contribute to the development of both plot and character, forging lasting bonds with readers along the way. Pets help characters, much like real people, explore their softer side. Tenderness is reserved for those allowed access to the hero or heroine who may otherwise appear to wear impenetrable armor. 

Catalysts for Change

Moreover, dogs and cats can also act as catalysts for change within a story, prompting characters to confront their fears, overcome obstacles, or reassess their priorities. Through their actions and interactions with human characters, these animal companions propel the narrative forward, driving meaningful growth and transformation. The man or woman who makes the decision to adopt a pet is one that is on a growth trajectory, even if he or she is unaware. Readers know!

Famous Examples of Dogs and Cats in Literature

Analyzing key characters like Old Yeller from Fred Gipson's novel of the same name or T.S. Eliot's whimsical creations in "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" offers valuable insights into the ways in which dogs and cats are utilized to convey themes of love, loss, and resilience in literature. Check out this audio reading of Old Possum:

The Influence of Dogs and Cats on Readers

Emotional Connections

One of the most profound effects of dogs and cats in literature is the emotional connection they evoke in readers. Whether through heartwarming tales of loyalty and devotion or poignant stories of loss and redemption, these animal characters resonate with readers on a deeply personal level, eliciting empathy and understanding.

Identification with Animal Characters

Furthermore, readers often find themselves identifying with the experiences and emotions of canine and feline characters, seeing reflections of their own lives and relationships within the pages of a book. This sense of connection fosters empathy and compassion, strengthening the bond between reader and story.


In conclusion, dogs and cats have left an indelible mark on the landscape of fiction, enriching stories with their unique personalities, symbolic meanings, and profound impact on readers. Whether they're portrayed as loyal companions, enigmatic creatures, or powerful symbols, these beloved animals continue to captivate audiences worldwide, reminding us of the enduring power of storytelling.