Master Cat, or Puss in Boots (early French: Le Maistre Chat, ou Le Chat Botté, literally The Booted Cat) is a French literary fairy tale written at the close of the seventeenth century by Charles Perrault (1628–1703), about a cat who uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth, and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master.
The tale opens with the third and youngest son of a miller receiving his inheritance — a cat. At first, the youngest son laments, as the eldest brother gains the mill, and the middle brother attains the mules. The feline is no ordinary cat, however, but one who requests and receives a pair of boots. Determined to make his master's fortune, the cat bags a rabbit in the forest and presents it to the king as a gift from his master, the fictional Marquis of Carabas. The cat continues making gifts of game to the king for several months.
One day, knowing the king and his daughter are traveling by coach along the riverside, the cat persuades his master to remove his clothes and enter the river. The cat disposes of his master's clothing beneath a rock. As the royal coach nears, the cat begins calling for help in great distress, and, when the king stops to investigate, the cat tells him that his master, the Marquis, has been bathing in the river and robbed of his clothing. The king has the young man brought from the river, dressed in a splendid suit of clothes, and seated in the coach with his daughter, who falls in love with him at once.
The cat hurries ahead of the coach, ordering the country folk along the road to tell the king that the land belongs to the "Marquis of Carabas", saying that if they do not he will cut them into mincemeat. The cat then happens upon a castle inhabited by an ogre who is capable of transforming himself into a number of creatures. The ogre displays his ability by changing into a lion, frightening the cat, who then tricks the ogre into changing into a mouse. Once that change is complete, the cat pounces upon the mouse and devours it. The king arrives at the castle which formerly belonged to the ogre, and, impressed with the bogus Marquis and his estate, gives the lad the princess in marriage. Thereafter, the cat enjoys life as a great lord who runs after mice only for his own amusement.
The tale is followed immediately by two morals: "one stresses the importance of possessing industrie and savoir faire while the other extols the virtues of dress, countenance, and youth to win the heart of a princess.
- In 1797 German writer Ludwig Tieck published Der gestiefelte Kater, a dramatic satire based on the Puss in Boots tale.
- The Russian composer César Cui (of French ancestry) composed a short children's opera on this subject in 1913. Puss in Boots was first performed in Rome in 1915, and has been something of a repertory item in Germany since at least the 1970s.
- In 1922 Walt Disney created a black and white silent short of the same name.
- Hayao Miyazaki participated in the 1969 Toei Animation production of Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko (Puss 'n Boots), providing key animation, designs, storyboards, image boards, and story ideas. Its main character, the cat Pero, was very popular and eventually became Toei's mascot.
- The Master Cat by David Garnett is a novel first published in 1974 which gives a more detailed account of the established story from Puss getting the boots to his eating the ogre. The second part of the book tells of Puss getting caught up in palace plots and intrigues of which he ultimately becomes the victim, by his own ungrateful master no less.
- In 1985 the family television series Faerie Tale Theatre produced a live-action adaptation starring Ben Vereen as Puss and Gregory Hines as the miller's son.
- In an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, a sketch set in the Police Department of the State of Venezuela is interrupted by an unexpected adaptation of Puss in Boots.
- A live action direct-to-video film adaptation was made in 1988, starring Christopher Walken as Puss and Jason Connery as the miller's son.
- Enoki Films released a Japanese animated series called Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko no Bouken (Adventures of Puss-in-Boots) in 1992.
- Plaza Entertainment released an animated direct-to-video film called Puss in Boots in 1999.
- Puss in Boots appears as a character in the films Shrek 2 and Shrek 3 (voiced by Antonio Banderas). The character is originally recruited as a professional ogre killer but later becomes a sidekick to the ogre, Shrek - surprisingly, in the alternative world in Shrek Forever After due to Rumpelstiltskin erasing the day Shrek was born when he made him sign a contract, Puss is seen to have retired from fencing and he became Fiona's pet; he has also become huge and obese.
- In the furry comic book, Xanadu, the main male hero, Tabbe Le Fauve, is a cat modeled on Puss in Boots with a strong influence of Errol Flynn's typical swashbuckler character.
- A Meowth from the Pokémon anime series dresses up like Puss In Boots.
- In Gainax's 2000 anime FLCL, the third episode is named Maru Raba (Marquis de Carabas).
'* In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II, he is one of Dr. Moreau's creations.
- In Neil Gaiman's novel Neverwhere, the Marquis de Carabas appears as a character and is merged with Puss.
- The novel Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey is a retelling of Puss In Boots, set in her Elemental Masters series.
- In the manga, MÄR Puss 'n' Boots becomes a form of Babbo in the final battle against the main antagonist, Phantom.
- Puss in Boots is the fourth episode of the episode game series American McGee's Grimm, which features the dark version of the cat missing an eye.
'* La Véritable histoire du Chat botté is an animated French film (2009) of Jérôme Deschamps, Pascal Hérold and Macha Makeïeff.
- Puss in Boots appears in the Fables spin-off Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love. He is one of the animal Fables who has to live on Fabletown's "Farm."
'* Mary Hanson Roberts wrote and drew a long serial in the Furrlough anthropomorphic comic book, about the descendants of Puss in Boots and their adventures in their world's equivalent of the France of Louis XVI and the French Revolution, called "Here Comes a Candle." )
- Adam Ant's 1983 single "Puss 'n Boots".
- Puss in Boots (1922 film), an American animated short directed by Walt Disney
- Puss in Boots (1934 film), an American animated short directed by Ub Iwerks
- Puss in Boots (1936 film), a German animated short directed by Lotte Reiniger
- Puss in Boots (1954 film), an English animated short directed by Lotte Reiniger and Carl Koch
- Puss in Boots (1969 film), a 1969 Japanese anime feature directed by Kimio Yabuki
- Puss in Boots (1982 film), an American film directed by John Clark Donahue and John Driver
- Puss in Boots (1988 film), a 93-minute musical directed by Eugene Marner starring Christopher Walken as "Puss"
- Puss in Boots (1999 film), an American animated feature directed by Phil Nibbelink
- Puss in Boots (Shrek), a character introduced in the 2004 movie sequel, Shrek 2
- The True Story of Puss'n Boots (2009 film), an 80-minute French animation
- Puss in Boots, an animated feature by DreamWorks Animation
From The Fairy Book by Miss Mulock
A Miller, dying, divided all his property between his three children. This was a very simple matter, as he had nothing to leave but his mill, his ass, and his cat; so he made no will, and called in no lawyer, who would, probably, have taken a large slice out of these poor possessions. The eldest son took the mill, the second the ass, while the third was obliged to content himself with the cat, at which he grumbled very much. “My brothers,” said he, “by putting their property together, may gain an honest livelihood, but there is nothing left for me except to die of hunger; unless, indeed, I were to kill my cat and eat him, and make a coat out of his skin, which would be very scanty clothing.”
The cat, who heard the young man talking to himself, sat up on his four paws, and looking at him with a grave and wise air, said, “Master, I think you had better not kill me; I shall be much more useful to you alive.”
“How so?” asked his master.
“You have but to give me a sack, and a pair of boots such as gentlemen wear when they go shooting, and you will find you are not so ill off as you suppose.”
Now, though the young miller did not much depend upon the cat’s words, still he thought it rather surprising that a cat should speak at all. And he had before now seen him show so much adroitness and cleverness in catching rats and mice, that it seemed advisable to trust him a little farther, especially as, poor young fellow! he had nobody else to trust.
When the cat got his boots, he drew them on with a grand air, and slinging his sack over his shoulder, and drawing the cords of it round his neck, he marched bravely to a rabbit-warren hard by, with which he was well acquainted. Then, putting some bran and lettuces into his bag, and stretching himself out beside it as if he were dead, he waited till some fine fat young rabbit, ignorant of the wickedness and deceit of the world, should peer into the sack to eat the food that was inside. This happened very shortly, for there are plenty of foolish young rabbits in every warren; and when one of them, who really was a splendid fat fellow, put his head inside, Master Puss drew the cords immediately, and took him and killed him without mercy. Then, very proud of his prey, he marched direct up to the palace, and begged to speak with the king. He was desired to ascend to the apartments of his majesty, where, making a low bow, he said,
“Sire, here is a magnificent rabbit, killed in the warren which belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, and which he has desired me to offer humbly to your majesty.”
“Tell your master,” replied the king, politely, “that I accept his present, and am very much obliged to him.”
Another time, Puss went and hid himself and his sack in a wheat-field, and there caught two splendid fat partridges in the same manner as he had done the rabbit. When he presented them to the king, with a similar message as before, his majesty was so pleased that he ordered the cat to be taken down into the kitchen and given something to eat and drink; where, while enjoying himself, the faithful animal did not cease to talk in the most cunning way of the large preserves and abundant game which belonged to my lord the Marquis of Carabas.
One day, hearing that the king was intending to take a drive along the river-side with his daughter, the most beautiful princess in the world, Puss said to his master, “Sir, if you would only follow my advice, your fortune is made.”
“Be it so,” said the miller’s son, who was growing very disconsolate, and cared little what he did: “Say your say, cat.”
“It is but little,” replied Puss, looking wise, as cats can. “You have only to go and bathe in the river, at a place which I shall show you, and leave all the rest to me. Only remember that you are no longer yourself, but my lord the Marquis of Carabas.”
“Just so,” said the miller’s son; “it’s all the same to me;” but he did as the cat told him.
While he was bathing, the king and all the court passed by, and were startled to hear loud cries of “Help, help! my lord the Marquis of Carabas is drowning.” The king put his head out of the carriage, and saw nobody but the cat, who had, at different times, brought him so many presents of game; however, he ordered his guards to fly quickly to the succour of my lord the Marquis of Carabas. While they were pulling the unfortunate marquis out of the water, the cat came up, bowing, to the side of the king’s carriage, and told a long and pitiful story about some thieves, who, while his master was bathing, had come and carried away all his clothes, so that it would be impossible for him to appear before his majesty and the illustrious princess.
“Oh, we will soon remedy that,” answered the king, kindly; and immediately ordered one of the first officers of the household to ride back to the palace with all speed, and bring back the most elegant supply of clothes for the young gentleman, who kept in the background until they arrived. Then, being handsome and well-made, his new clothes became him so well, that he looked as if he had been a marquis all his days, and advanced with an air of respectful ease to offer his thanks to his majesty.
The king received him courteously, and the princess admired him very much. Indeed, so charming did he appear to her, that she hinted to her father to invite him into the carriage with them, which, you may be sure, the young man did not refuse. The cat, delighted at the success of his scheme, went away as fast as he could, and ran so swiftly that he kept a long way ahead of the royal carriage. He went on and on, till he came to some peasants who were mowing in a meadow. “Good people,” said he, in a very firm voice, “the king is coming past here shortly, and if you do not say that the field you are mowing belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped as small as mince-meat.”
So when the king drove by, and asked whose meadow it was where there was such a splendid crop of hay, the mowers all answered, trembling, that it belonged to my lord the Marquis of Carabas.
“You have very fine land, Marquis,” said his majesty to the miller’s son; who bowed, and answered “that it was not a bad meadow, take it altogether.”
Then the cat came to a wheat-field, where the reapers were reaping with all their might. He bounded in upon them: “The king is coming past to-day, and if you do not tell him that this wheat belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, I will have you every one chopped as small as mince-meat.” The reapers, very much alarmed, did as they were bid, and the king congratulated the Marquis upon possessing such beautiful fields, laden with such an abundant harvest.
They drove on – the cat always running before and saying the same thing to everybody he met, that they were to declare the whole country belonged to his master; so that even the king was astonished at the vast estate of my lord the Marquis of Carabas.
But now the cat arrived at a great castle where dwelt an Ogre, to whom belonged all the land through which the royal equipage had been driving. He was a cruel tyrant, and his tenants and servants were terribly afraid of him, which accounted for their being so ready to say whatever they were told to say by the cat, who had taken pains to inform himself of all about the Ogre. So, putting on the boldest face he could assume, Puss marched up to the castle with his boots on, and asked to see the owner of it, saying that he was on his travels, but did not wish to pass so near the castle of such a noble gentleman without paying his respects to him. When the Ogre heard this message, he went to the door, received the cat as civilly as an Ogre can, and begged him to walk in and repose himself.
“Thank you, sir,” said the cat; “but first I hope you will satisfy a traveller’s curiosity. I have heard in far countries of your many remarkable qualities, and especially how you have the power to change yourself into any sort of beast you choose – a lion for instance, or an elephant.”
“That is quite true,” replied the Ogre; “and lest you should doubt it, I will immediately become a lion.”
He did so; and the cat was so frightened that he sprang up to the roof of the castle and hid himself in the gutter – a proceeding rather inconvenient on account of his boots, which were not exactly fitted to walk with upon tiles. At length, perceiving that the Ogre had resumed his original form, he came down again stealthily, and confessed that he had been very much frightened.
“But, sir,” said he, “it may be easy enough for such a big gentleman as you to change himself into a large animal: I do not suppose you can become a small one – a rat or mouse for instance. I have heard that you can; still, for my part, I consider it quite impossible.”
“Impossible!” cried the other, indignantly. “You shall see!” and immediately the cat saw the Ogre no longer, but a little mouse running along on the floor.
This was exactly what he wanted; and he did the very best a cat could do, and the most natural under the circumstances – he sprang upon the mouse and gobbled it up in a trice. So there was an end of the Ogre.
By this time the king had arrived opposite the castle, and was seized with a strong desire to enter it. The cat, hearing the noise of the carriage-wheels, ran forward in a great hurry, and standing at the gate, said in a loud voice, “Welcome, sire, to the castle of my lord the Marquis of Carabas.”
“What!” cried his majesty, very much surprised, “does the castle also belong to you? Truly, Marquis, you have kept your secret well up to the last minute. I have never seen anything finer than this courtyard and these battlements. Indeed, I have nothing like them in the whole of my dominions.”
The Marquis, without speaking, offered his hand to the princess to assist her to descend, and, standing aside that the king might enter first – for he had already acquired all the manners of a court – followed his majesty to the great hall, where a magnificent collation was laid out, and where, without more delay, they all sat down to feast.
Before the banquet was over, the king, charmed with the good qualities of the Marquis of Carabas – and likewise with his wine, of which he had drunk six or seven cups – said, bowing across the table at which the princess and the miller’s son were talking very confidentially together, “It rests with you, Marquis, whether you will not become my son-in-law.”
“I shall be only too happy,” said the complaisant Marquis, and the princess’s cast-down eyes declared the same.
So they were married the very next day, and took possession of the Ogre’s castle, and of everything that had belonged to him.
As for the cat, he became at once a grand personage, and had never more any need to run after mice, except for his own diversion.