THE CAT by Pat Gray


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Irish-born Gray’s third is a dark and amusing political allegory about Cat, Rat, and Mouse, and how they get along after the sudden death of the Professor, the owner of Chez Maupassant. Gray’s second novel, The Political Map of the Heart, won the World One Day Novel Competition for being written in a 24-hour period at the Groucho Club in London. Although The Cat clearly took more than 24 hours to write, what it’s about is less clear, apart from the fact that it’s not as obvious as George Orwell’s Animal Farm (which Mouse is reading). Perhaps it’s about British politics or the collapse of Communism? In any case, after the Professor falls dead at the fridge, having stuffed himself with desserts, and lies like the statue of Ozymandias on the kitchen lino, his face lathered with whipped cream, Rat and Mouse climb over the body and invade the open fridge. Next day, Mrs. Professor has the body removed and later sells the house and moves out. Suddenly, the place is swept clean, and Rat, arising like a labor leader, tries to organize the house on new principles, without Cat having the top post. Mouse, a spineless intellectual, is Rat’s assistant—until he gets fed up and disappears. While Rat organizes the garden creatures, Cat falls in with Tom, who finds every night a good night for girls. “Pussy!” he purrs with a low growl. Then Cat takes up television and learns to speak like a human to the house’s new owner, Mrs. Digby. Eventually, Cat takes over again, asking, “D’ye think Rat knows about accounts?” Cat is back, in Mrs. Digby’s lap, while Rat and Mouse turn gray like old pensioners. Gray’s characters amuse in their parody of human beings, but not everyone will feel an urge to read secondary meanings into their trials.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1998
ISBN: 0-88001-614-0
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998