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Which is the best cat in the Harry Potter stories?

There can only be one winner in the ultimate Hogwarts catfight.

McGonagall stands outside Privet drive disguised as a cat
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

In the wizarding world, life isn’t as simple as being either a cat person or a dog person. You might be more of a Hippogriff type, or have a soft spot for a Pygmy Puff, or be altogether enchanted by the watery, er, charms of Grindylows. That said, there was a strong feline and canine presence between the pages of the books – which leads us to an extremely important ranking.

Millicent Bulstrode’s cat

Harry, Ron and Hermione work on brewing the Polyjuice Potion in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This yellow-eyed, black-furred kitty might not have featured prominently at Hogwarts, but it still managed to make one rather spectacular event happen. It was her fur – when mistaken for one of Millicent Bulstrode’s hairs – which led to Hermione’s transformation into a being that was half-human, half-feline. Due to the unfortunate circumstances, Millicent’s cat gets bottom ranking!

Her face was covered in black fur. Her eyes had gone yellow and there were long pointed ears poking through her hair.
‘It was a c-cat hair!’ she howled. ‘M-Millicent Bulstrode m-must have a cat! And the P-Potion isn’t supposed to be used for animal transformations!’
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Dolores Umbridge’s technicolour kittens

Umbridge at her desk
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

All of the best villains have a calling card, such as Lord Voldemort with his Dark Mark: a skull with a snake curling from its mouth. For Dolores Umbridge, however, it was her round-eyed, round-faced gambolling kittens, romping their rainbow way across the teacups and plates that decorated her office.

For some reason, this made her more menacing than she might have been if she was followed around by a troupe of screeching black familiars. This was because the saccharine sweetness was distracting; it’s impossible not to find a rainbow-hued kitten appealing. She lured you in with twinsets and tea, then took away your privileges and your will to live. And that’s why those kittens deserve a place in our feline hall of fame – they were instruments of immense trickery.

Plus, despite the fact Harry thought they were ‘foul’, there is absolutely no way that a plateful of playful multi-coloured kittens can be anything other than cute.

There were several vases full of dried flowers, each one residing on its own doily, and on one of the walls was a collection of ornamental plates, each decorated with a large technicolour kitten wearing a different bow around its neck. These were so foul that Harry stared at them, transfixed, until Professor Umbridge spoke again.
‘Good evening, Mr Potter.’
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Mrs Norris

Argus Filch holding Mrs Norris patrolling Hogwarts corridors
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It’s possible to have mixed feelings about one Argus Filch: on the one hand, he was completely unreasonable, set on making the lives of Hogwarts students as miserable as possible, but on the other hand, he was a Squib, trying to carve out a meaningful non-magical existence in one of the most magical places on Earth.

Mrs Norris seemed to match his mood. It can’t have been much fun to have an existence predicated on sniffing out wrongdoing by troublesome teens, nor one in which most of the people around you expressed the desire to physically harm you. Then again, maybe it was the best job on Earth for a cat. She got to put disobedient young wizards and witches in detention. She had the run of Hogwarts. And there’s no arguing that Mrs Norris was both extremely loyal and extremely good at her job. She was a good friend to Filch and was also quite fluffy, all of which lead to her third-place ranking among the best kitties of the canon.

Filch owned a cat called Mrs Norris, a scrawny, dust-coloured creature with bulging, lamp-like eyes just like Filch’s. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she’d whisk off for Filch, who’d appear, wheezing, two seconds later. Filch knew the secret passageways of the school better than anyone (except perhaps the Weasley twins) and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him and it was the dearest ambition of many to give Mrs Norris a good kick.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Minerva McGonagall

The only reason that this tabby tour de force isn’t at the top of this list is that she wasn’t a real cat. We were properly impressed with Minerva’s mastery of the art of being an Animagus, but that didn’t change the fact that beneath her fur she was a witch through and through – and the leader of our list would see through her disguise in a heartbeat.

That said, we adored her, from her tiny paws to her spectacle-shaped markings. She was there for Harry from the very opening pages of the very first book, and she remained by his side, either on two legs or on four, for the duration. That earns her first place in human accolades, and a very close second in the moggy Hall of Fame.

‘Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.’
He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
‘How did you know it was me?’ she asked.
‘My dear Professor, I’ve never seen a cat sit so stiffly.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Crookshanks

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Crookshanks! King of Cats!

Look, there’s simply no denying that in a book rife with beings of the animal persuasion, Crookshanks ruled over them all. Probably part-Kneazle (but that’s still a cat, technically), he wasn’t pretending to be anything he wasn’t: he was simply a squashy-faced, fluffy-as-anything, bow-legged ginger moggie with a suspicious nature. But that didn’t stop him from befriending a desperate Sirius, even though cats and dogs don’t usually get on. And it didn’t stop him from sniffing out – immediately – that Scabbers was not what he seemed.

He underwent immense persecution from Ron, who suspected him of wanting to eat his rat, rather than attempting to bring a murderer to wizarding justice. People called him ugly. They tied tinsel around his neck (wildly undignified). But still, he laboured on, unerring in his cattish instincts to make Hogwarts a better place.

We should have known from the offing, really. After all, he was chosen by Hermione to be her pet. How could he have been anything other than undisputed top cat? Crookshanks, we love you forever.

‘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. He recognised Peter for what he was straight away. And when he met me, he knew I was no dog. It was a while before he trusted me. Finally, I managed to communicate to him what I was after, and he’s been helping me...’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban