The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots is a children's fantasy story by the British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. Although Potter finished writing The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots in 1914, she only ever completed one illustration for it and the story was not published during her lifetime.
The story's tile character and protagonist is a female black cat who is owned by an old woman. Unknown to the old woman, Kitty enjoys putting on men's clothing and going out hunting at night with an air gun.
Potter's manuscript of The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots was rediscovered in 2015 in the archives of London's Victoria and Albert Museum by Jo Hanks, a publisher at Penguin Random House Children's Books. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd., the publisher of all of Beatrix Potter's books, has been a division of the Penguin Group since 1983.
The first printed edition of The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (ISBN 9780241249444) was published by Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. on September 1, 2016. Illustrations for the 2016 edition were provided by Quentin Blake, a British artist who is best-known for illustrating Roald Dahl's children's books. The one illustration that Beatrix Potter completed for The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots is not included in the book's 2016 edition.
An old woman owns a black cat. Although the woman calls the cat Kitty, the cat calls herself Miss Catherine St. Quintin. Kitty has two unrefined male cat friends, another black cat named Winkiepeeps and a tortoise-shell cat named Cheesebox. Winkiepeeps calls Kitty Squintums and Cheesebox calls her Q. The old woman is very protective of Kitty because black cats have been stolen to be made into fur muffs. At night, Kitty is locked up in a wash-house. Unknown to the old woman, on many nights, Winkiepeeps comes along and unlocks the wash-house. Kitty then puts on fur-lined boots and a man's coat. She goes out hunting with an air rifle. Winkiepeeps goes into the wash-house and pretends to be Kitty until Kitty comes home the following day.
One summer evening, Winkiepeeps says that he wants to go hunting with Kitty too because the ferrets Slimmy Jimmy and John Stoat-Ferret are out poaching for rabbits in the wood behind Cheesebox's house. Winkiepeeps adds that the two ferrets want to borrow Kitty's air gun. Kitty has no intention of lending her gun to the ferrets. She does, however, want to hunt rabbits. Winkiepeeps and Kitty go to Cheesebox's house, where Kitty's air gun is kept. Cheesebox hands over the gun, although he says that he does not approve of poaching rabbits or associating with ferrets. When the air gun goes off accidentally, Winkiepeeps runs back to Kitty's house in fright. When the air gun goes off accidentally again, Kitty decides that Cheesebox was right. Instead of joining the ferrets to poach rabbits, she decides to hunt mice instead.
Kitty's air gun goes off accidentally for a third time. The pellet goes straight through the laundry that the hedgehog washerwoman Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is carrying. Kitty apologizes. She is flattered that Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle calls her "Sir", enjoying being "mistaken for a sportsman".
Kitty fails in her attempts to hunt mice, crows and sheep. Hearing a noise that she thinks is being made by a mouse, Kitty shoots. She finds that, instead of a mouse, her pellet has hit the ferret Slimmy Jimmy, although it did not seriously hurt him. The two ferrets, Slimmy Jimmy and John Stoat-Ferret, say that Kitty is not fit to carry a gun. They snatch the air rifle off her and demand that she hand over her remaining pellets. Kitty refuses. In order to get her gun back, Kitty then follows the two ferrets as they continue trying to poach rabbits. They are eventually confronted by a "stout buck-rabbit in a blue coat" who is brandishing an umbrella. The ferrets chase after the rabbit, who leads them into traps set by the fox Mr. Tod. Kitty recovers her air gun.
By that time, it is morning. Winkiepeeps is still at Kitty's house impersonating her and has been given breakfast by the old woman. Kitty decides to continue hunting. She follows the rabbit for some time, until she also gets her feet caught in one of Mr. Tod's traps. She remains in the trap all day. In the evening, Mr. Tod comes along with a bag full of animals that he has caught. He is delighted to get more black cat. He puts down his bag and shows Kitty that he already has half of a black cat's tail. Kitty point her gun at Mr. Tod. He then tries to reassure Kitty that he was only joking and just wants to release her. He asks her to pass him the bag, which is now out of his reach. Kitty refuses. The stand-off lasts all day. The following evening, Mr. Tod leaves.
The bag begins to move. Kitty opens it and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle emerges. Again, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle calls Kitty "Sir". This time, Kitty corrects her and says that her name is Miss Catherine St. Quintin. Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle recognizes the cat because she does her laundry. To free Kitty from the trap, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle unlaces her boots. Kitty gets out of the trap but loses one of her toes in the process. Kitty vows never to poach again. She leaves her coat and air gun behind and limps home.
When she arrives home, Kitty finds Winkiepeeps, with part of his tail missing, sleeping in the living room. Blaming Winkiepeeps for all the trouble she has had, Kitty attacks hm and chases him away.
Kitty limps for the rest of her life. She never hunts again and keeps the company of respectable female cats like Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit.
- ↑ Although the rabbit is not named, the fact that he is wearing a blue coat strongly suggests that he is Peter Rabbit.
- ↑ The cats Ribby and Tabitha Twitchit first appear in The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan (1905). Tabitha Twitchit also appears in The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907) and The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or The Roly-Poly Pudding (1908). She is also referred to in The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909).
- Text of The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots on Wikisource. The posthumously published book is in the public domain in the United States because its author died over 70 years ago. Quentin Blake's copyrighted illustrations do not appear on the site.