Varjak Paw


Varjak Paw is a pure-bred Mesopotamian Blue Cat, living comfortably with his family in a big house on a hill. Yet he never ventures to the great Outside, there is tension within the family and there are strange happenings in the house. Who is the mysterious Gentleman?

When Varjak learns about the Way, a secret martial art for cats, and of his family’s proud history, from his grandfather, he prepares for a mission. Varjak sets out to help his family by braving the fearsome Outside, using his newly-learned skills along the way.

We recommend ‘Varjak Paw‘ to readers aged from 8 or 9 years of age. They will be entering a world of enchantment, mystery, danger and wonder.

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Varjak Paw

S. F. Said, illustrations by Dave McKean


Varjak Paw is a Mesopotamian Blue cat from a large family.  He lives comfortably inside the Contessa’s large, grand house. Yet, when the Gentleman arrives with his odd black cats, Varjak and his grandfather the Elder Paw believe that something strange is going on. Having escaped the house, Elder Paw tells Varjak to leave and bring back a dog that will frighten away the Gentleman and his black cats. However, Varjak is not street smart, nor does he have any idea what a dog is.
Finding his way in the city is tough for Varjak until he makes friends with Tam and Holly.  These street cats take pity on him and help him find food and shelter.  They also are able to avoid the cat gangs that roam the city and work for the mysterious Sally Bones. At the same time, Varjak dreams of his ancestor, Jalal.  In his  sleep, Jalal teaches him martial arts, making him a fearsome warrior. Will Varjak ever find a dog and bring it home? And what are the strange robotic cats he witnesses in the city?
S F Said’s story is a modern classic.  It is a great adventure story, while also dealing with what it is to be persecuted for coming from a different culture.  We also understand how we find strength in the wisdom passed down from our ancestors. The pedigree cats look down on Varjak for having the wrong colour eyes, while he is also singled out as different when he leaves his protected sphere and decides to adventure alone in the city. However, finding friendship means that he also looks outside his restrictive existence and starts to understand others – and himself – more deeply.


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