What animal traits do you see in Orwell's presentation of the cat in Animal Farm?

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In George Orwell's Animal Farm, the animals of Manor Farm overthrow their human masters. In the opening chapters, the various animals enter the barn and listen to a speech by a pig named Major. Orwell tells us that the cat was the last to enter, settled in the warmest place possible, and then did not listen to Major's speech. So far, this sounds like a fairly accurate representation of feline behavior.

Later, when the animals vote on whether rats should be considered "comrades", it is discovered that the cat voted on both sides of the issue, thus suggesting either that cats are not very intelligent or highlighting once again that the cat did not listen "to a word of what he was saying."

Elsewhere in the novel, Orwell tells us that the cat could never be found when there was work to be done, but that she was always present at dinnertime with a convincing excuse for her absence.

Even after all animals are regarded as comrades, the sparrows still do not trust the cat when she invites them to come and "perch on her paw".

Still, when the humans try to recapture the farm, the cat proves loyal and painfully scratches one of the cowmen:

Even the cat suddenly leapt off a roof onto a cowman's shoulders and sank her claws in his neck, at which he yelled horribly.

So, Orwell's depiction of the cat as lazy, treacherous, and fickle seems in keeping with the stereotypical depiction of cats.


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