Features

Unsung heroes: Crookshanks

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

No Image
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A purr-fect match

Hermione always stands up for the underdog (or ‘undercat’ in this instance) and this is precisely how she and Crookshanks met. To her, an animal going unwanted at The Magical Menagerie just because they’re not pretty was totally wrong, and thus, a great staple to Harry’s friendship group was made.

For Hermione, it was love at first sight. But not everyone was a fan of her new pet.

Ron buckled as something huge and orange came soaring from the top of the highest cage, landed on his head and then propelled itself, spitting madly, at Scabbers.
‘NO, CROOKSHANKS, NO!’ cried the witch, but Scabbers shot from between her hands like a bar of soap, landed splay-legged on the floor and then scarpered for the door.
‘Scabbers!’ Ron shouted, haring out of the shop after him.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

For a while, it really seemed like Crookshanks was simply fulfilling his role as a cat by wanting to feast heartily on Ron’s rat Scabbers - leading to many heated arguments between Ron and Hermione. As we later learned, Crookshanks was only doing this because he’d worked out Scabbers wasn’t all what he seemed, far before anyone else had.

‘What was that?’
‘It was either a very big cat or quite a small tiger,’ said Harry.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A cat genius

Due to the slight misunderstanding, Crookshanks spent his first year at Hogwarts being kicked, sat on and repeatedly shouted at by Gryffindor students. Yep, that’s the thanks you got for trying to protect someone from a murdererous intruder.

Eventually Crookshanks found an ally in the escaped convict Sirius Black, of all people, disguised as Padfoot the dog, finally having someone understand him. Throughout the year, the supposedly troublesome kitty actually contributed to the unmasking of Peter Pettigrew, obtained the passwords to Gryffindor tower (sorry about it, Neville) and even carried the order form for Harry’s Firebolt. Yes, Crookshanks even dealt with the admin.

‘Hi,’ chorused Harry, Ron and Hermione, all three kneeling down on the hearthrug. Crookshanks purred loudly and approached the fire, trying, despite the heat, to put his face close to Sirius’s.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The empty bedroom of the Shrieking Shack
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Feline fine

But how did Crookshanks know that Scabbers was up to no good? That might have something to do with his parentage…

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.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Sound familiar? Bear in mind, Kneazles are known to crossbreed with domestic cats. Crookshanks always knew when people were up to no good, even if they were only planning to cheat on their homework. Plus he made sure to guide Hermione and her friends safely through the Shrieking Shack and back again. Very Kneazle-like indeed.

‘Oh, help, help,’ Hermione whispered frantically, dancing uncertainly on the spot, ‘please ...’
Crookshanks darted forwards. He slithered between the battering branches like a snake and placed his front paws upon a knot on the trunk.
Abruptly, as though the tree had been turned to marble, it stopped moving. Not a leaf twitched or shook.
‘Crookshanks!’ Hermione whispered uncertainly. She now grasped Harry’s arm painfully hard. ‘How did he know –?’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

After stopping Harry and Hermione getting clobbered by the Whomping Willow, Crookshanks bravely defended Sirius Black. When Harry got his wand at the ready and prepared to avenge the murder of his parents, Crookshanks leapt on to Sirius’s chest and refused to budge. Whether or not Harry would have gone through with it we’ll never know, but Crookshanks stopped him in his tracks when he was dangerously close to the edge.

‘This cat isn’t mad,’ said Black hoarsely. He reached out a bony hand and stroked Crookshanks’s fluffy head. ‘He’s the most intelligent of his kind I’ve ever met.’
Prisoner of Azkaban

No Image

Soon afterwards the truth came out and Crookshanks started leading the troops back to the castle. Without this faithful feline, things might have turned out quite differently. Even Ron changed his tune and made peace with Crookshanks on the train home:

He looked closely at the owl for a moment, then, to Harry and Hermione’s great surprise, he held him out for Crookshanks to sniff.
‘What d’you reckon?’ Ron asked the cat. ‘Definitely an owl?’
Crookshanks purred.
‘That’s good enough for me,’ said Ron happily.
Prisoner of Azkaban

The last we see of Crookshanks is at the Burrow in Deathly Hallows before the trio are forced to make a hasty exit. We don’t know where he ended up after the Battle of Hogwarts but here’s hoping he was reunited with Hermione and led a happy, purr-ceful life. Crookshanks, you can be our hero, baby.

No Image
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Each month Pottermore will shine a spotlight on a character from the Harry Potter stories who we feel deserves more credit. Come back next month when we celebrate Fleur Delacour.