The narrator, a nameless, stray tomcat of obscure origin that has been adopted by the Kushami family of Tokyo. Plain and nondescript in appearance, it is somewhat Persian in type and light grayish yellow in coloring. A creature of feeling and of a sensitive nature, it is highly intelligent, able to read and write the Japanese language. It is curious in its exploration of the world and an acute observer of the lives of human beings, in relation to whom, however, it feels definitely superior. Its principal deficiency is that it is cowardly and unable to catch rats.
Sensei Kushami, the tomcat’s owner and a teacher in Tokyo. In his mid-thirties, he is of average build, has a pockmarked face, wears gold-rimmed glasses, sports a handlebar mustache, and suffers from dyspepsia. He wears the Japanese dress of the Meiji period: bowler hat and an haori jacket over a kimono. He has a wife, whom he often verbally abuses, and three small daughters, the youngest a baby. A reclusive person, he shuts himself in his study on returning home from school, and he tries to read, invariably falling asleep. He indulges in a variety of cultural enthusiasms: writing haiku and modern poems, painting watercolors, sketching, and playing the violin. He never rises to competence in any of these activities. He also keeps a diary, which is often read by his cat. Kushami is self-centered, self-indulgent, insensitive to the feelings of others, stubborn...
(The entire section is 615 words.)