Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat

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First edition
(publ. George G. Harrap)

Gobbolino, The Witch's Cat is a children's novel written by Ursula Moray Williams. It was first published in 1942.


Gobbolino is a little black kitten born in a witch's cave high up on Hurricane Mountain with one white paw after it was bathed in moonlight, and sparkling blue eyes who was born to be a witch's cat with his pure black twin sister, Sootica. While his sister is quite happy to learn spells and turn mice into toads, Gobbolino longs to be a humble kitchen cat; and he embarks on a great adventure to seek out his heart's desire.

First, he tries to be a normal kitchen cat, first at a farm, then an orphanage, then the mayor's house, but his magic always gets him into trouble. He becomes a show cat, but the other cats are jealous and reveal him as a witch's cat. He becomes a ship's cat for a brief period, but returns to shore after using his magic to save the ship from a witch, making the sailors suspicious.

He is adopted by a sick princess, but when she is well again she leaves for boarding school without him, and he joins a Punch and Judy show as 'Toby the Dog', but a witch in the audience reveals him as a witch's cat. A knight finds him and gives him to a lady as a gift, but when Gobbolino tries to help the knight win over the Lady, he only causes more trouble. He leaves, and is adopted by a woodcutter, but the woodcutter's great-granddaughter sells him to a pedlar-woman for a dress.

Finally accepting his magic, Gobbolino becomes the pedlar-woman's assistant, but his good heart and unwillingness to cause pain means he fails at every task he is set. The pedlar-woman leaves him in the care of his sister, Sootica, and her mistress, but once again he is unable to complete his tasks. The witch puts a spell on him, removing his magical powers, and he finds his way back to the farm where he began his journey, his coat having faded to an unrecognisable tabby. Here, he finds his old friends welcome him back happily, and he becomes the farm's kitchen cat.

The name 'Gobbolino' is from the Italian word for "little hunchback".