The reader may have met with the story of the “King of the Cats,” in Lord Lyttleton’s Letters. It is well known in the Highlands as a nursery tale.
Sir Walter Scott.
A traveller, benighted in a wild and mountainous country, (if my recollection does not fail me, in the Highlands of Scotland), at length beholds the welcome light of a neighbouring habitation. He urges his horse towards it; when, instead of an house, he approached a kind of illuminated chapel, from whence issued the most alarming sounds he had ever heard. Though greatly surprised and terrified, he ventured to look through a window of the building, when he was amazed to see a large assembly of cats, who, arranged in solemn order, were lamenting over the corpse of one of their own species, which lay in state, and was surrounded with the various emblems of sovereignty. Alarmed and terrified at this extraordinary spectacle, he hastened from the place with greater eagerness than he approached it; and arriving, some time after, at the house of a gentleman who never turned the wanderer from his gate, the impressions of what he had seen were so visible on his countenance, that his friendly host enquired into the cause of his anxiety. He accordingly told his story, and, having finished it, a large family cat, who had lain, during the narrative, before the fire, immediately started up, and very articulately exclaimed, “Then I am King of the Cats!” and, having thus announced its new dignity, the animal darted up the chimney and was seen no more.
— “Letter XXXIX” Lyttelton, 2nd Baron Lyttelton, Thomas,
Letters of the Late Lord Lyttleton (ed. William Combe, 1807).