Has your brain gone straight to dragons, griffins and owls? Well, you might be surprised by what the Scribble decided to bring home from the literary pound...
I found this question quite difficult to answer, as, despite being an animal lover in real life, I’ve never been a huge fan of animal stories - even as a kid, I was more interested in reading about people and what makes them tick, than animals.
Then I remembered my all-encompassing adoration of Garfield, the sardonic, lasagne-loving, lazy cat created by Jim Davis in the late 1970s. I discovered him in the 1980s, and was soon the proud owner of several books, a duvet cover, a snowstorm, various cuddly toys…you name it, if it had Garfield printed on it, I had it.
The collection is long gone, but my affection for the misanthropic moggy remains - largely built on the fact that I think he may actually be my spirit animal. He hates Mondays and loves his bed, adores pasta and coffee, and spends his life in pretty much constant exasperation at the world around him. He also has a well-hidden heart of gold, which makes his moments of tenderness and joy surprising and, consequently, all the more touching.
Garfield was my childhood introduction to such ideas as recurring jokes and motifs, which made me feel like I belonged to Garfield’s world. Davis would use conventions such as breaking the fourth wall, which I delighted in;. Garfield helped me develop my sense of humour, and I think I can thank him for my lifelong love of comedy.
So yes, if I opened my front door to find a fat orange cat with a belly full of lasagne and a head full of attitude, I’d let him in. He’d have to promise not to kill any spiders, though.
This might be my favourite question so far! I'm a true animal lover, so there's millions I could choose and it took me a while to settle on just one. I think I would have to go with Jiji the cat from Kiki's Delivery Service.
One of my all time favourite comfort films, the characterisation in general is great but Jiji is the ultimate sassy cat. Always a voice of reason but never failing to support Kiki on her journey (and with her crazy ideas), I can't imagine not wanting a companion like that! Plus, I'm a sucker for a black cat too.
There's so many moments in the film where Jiji is the centre of comedy too, and who doesn't love a funny best friend? Combine that with being a cat, I can't imagine anything better! Jiji has an almost deadpan sense of humour, which makes him all the funnier. But it truly is his unwavering loyalty and care for Kiki that makes me want to adopt him. I always think cats get a bad reputation, but actually they're so affectionate and loving and Jiji shows that, albeit in a caricatured manner.
In all honesty, I'd probably adopt all the fictional animals but, if I'm choosing one, I'll take Jiji!
Have you ever found yourself wondering what the carbon impact of riding a dragon instead of driving a car would be? Well, now I have. This question has taken me down some weird, weird rabbit holes (no pun intended).
In the end, I almost always circle back to dogs, which we, as a species, really don’t deserve. If I was going to be cheeky, I’d choose Grey from my own short story. I think that might be cheating though, in more ways than one.
Instead, I choose Mouse. Harry Dresden’s dog Mouse is geniusly written. Most fictional creatures written with self-awareness and intelligence on par with humans end up very anthropomorphised; we, as writers, fall into the trap of over-humanising them. But think about it, why would a super smart animal suddenly start behaving like a human?
What I love about Mouse is that, even though he’s smarter than most humans, he’s comfortable in his own skin. He’s a dog and he’s content to be one. It takes Harry quite a while to work out that Mouse can understand him. Mouse is loyal, he likes to go for walks and ride in the car, he loves his humans, he sneezes, he sighs, he wags his tail, he’s wary of the cat - his doggy mannerisms have been so wonderfully well written that you can’t help but smile when you read about him, because even though he’s a supernaturally smart guardian Temple Dog, he reminds you strongly of your own dog. Honestly, if there was nothing unusual about Mouse at all, he’d still be an extremely well written character.
Jim Butcher took the concept of a dog and supersized it. Mouse embodies everything that a real dog is - the loyalty, the sensitivity, the comedy, the unconditional love. Mouse has all this extra stuff going on, but at the end of the day, he’s still a dog.
And I’m a sucker for a dog.
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Cover image by Brian McGowan via Unsplash