9 Short Stories That Center Felines – ARABLIT & ARABLIT QUARTERLY

Inspired by BookRiot’s recent list of new books in translation featuring cats, we revisit some of our favorite feline-focused short fictions.


Egypt has many fictional cats, many of which transform between the real and the supernatural, between human and cat.

Holy Wednesday”by Mahmoud Aboudoma, tr. Sarah Enany

“Tale of the Resurrected Brother and the Metamorphosed Mother,” by Amgad ElSabban, tr. Mona Khedr

The Cats,” by Mohamed El-Makhzangi, tr. Omar Ibrahim


In this story from Iraq, a woman promises to come back as a cat after her death.

The Return,” by Mahdi Issa al-Saqr, tr. Hend Saeed & in the invaluable Contemporary Iraqi Fiction, tr. Shakir Mustafa.


Both cat stories from Palestine are about how cats can destabilize — or restabilize — life inside a family.

Mordechai’s Mustache and His Wife’s Cats,” by Mahmoud Shukair, tr. Michael K. Scott 

Schrödinger’s Catsby Ameer Hamad, tr. M Lynx Qualey


This classic story from Lebanon is full of the potential for violence against cats and women.

The Catby Layla Baalbaki, tr. Tom Abi Samra


As the afterword to this story notes, “Certain details in this story about the relationship between the late Moroccan artist Abbas Saladi (1950-1992) and his cat Minouche, and about his existential choices in life and art, are derived from the tales narrated by his childhood friend and neighbour, the self-made artist Abdel Fattah Abu al-Thaka.”

Minouche,” by Anis Arrafai, tr. Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp


Zakaria Tamer’s taut allegorical stories often include animals; here, a boy mewls like a cat: “I just smile, because they don’t understand that I only meow when I want to talk about something with my white cat, whose language I understand. I also understand the walls’ language, and the trees’ language, and the birds’.”

The Speakers,” by Zakaria Tamer, tr. Marilyn Hacker


From “The Merits of the Housecat,” by al-Suyuti (tr. D Larsen)

The CATS issue of ArabLit Quarterly


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