20

I was petting my cat when I started musing, how does Mrs. Norris communicate/talk with Mr. Filch, the Caretaker at Hogwarts? Throughout the books it is mentioned that Mrs. Norris helps Filch to patrol the corridors. She acts as a lookout/spy/assistant to Filch, whereby she is often walking the corridors at night looking for law-breakers, and runs off to Mr. Filch to complain whenever she notices anything. She also polices the owls as well, apparently.

Well, is Mrs. Norris a magical cat? Mr. Filch is a Squib, so he does not have particular magical powers, but he still can see ghosts, dementors and thestrals, so does he have some special provisions to understand 'cat talk' or has an ability to talk with cats? 'Catsletoungue'? Would love to know!

Thanks.

Add: Ok even if Mrs. Norris could somehow meow to Mr. Filch to follow him to a particular place, which is understandable, how does Mr. Filch instruct Mrs. Norris where to go on, which corridor to patrol, which door to watch, etc., every single night?

For example.

"Sniff around, my sweet, they may be lurking in a corner."

Filch speaking to Mrs. Norris. (Sorcerer's Stone - Page 157)

13

I like this question!

TL;DR: Mr Filch and Mrs Norris communicate through verbal and physical cues and are aided by a "mysterious power" (Chamber of Secrets - chapter 8, The Deathday Party) that heightens the connection between them. There is no definitive canon answer to this question.

Now for the long answer.

Mrs. Norris is a regular cat; she does not have any magical powers.

Filch owned a cat called Mrs Norris, a scrawny, dust-coloured creature with bulging, lamp-like eyes just like Filch’s. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she’d whisk off for Filch, who’d appear, wheezing, two seconds later.

Philosopher's Stone -- page 99 -- Bloomsbury -- chapter 9, The Potions Master

That said, canon indicates that Mr Filch and Mrs Norris do share a symbiotic connection of sorts, fueled by some kind of unknown force, that goes above and beyond the normal pet/owner relationship.

Harry, [backed] away from the accusing stare of Mrs Norris, but not quickly enough. Drawn to the spot by the mysterious power that seemed to connect him with his foul cat, Argus Filch burst suddenly through a tapestry to Harry’s right, wheezing and looking wildly about for the rule-breaker.

Chamber of Secrets -- page 96 -- Bloomsbury -- chapter 8, The Deathday Party

Mr Filch actually cannot see Dementors and this was confirmed at J.K. Rowling's website in regards to a question about Arabella Figg and her claim to the Wizengamot that she saw the Dementors that attacked Harry and Dudley in Order of the Phoenix; she was twisting the truth for Harry's benefit. Unfortunately, J.K. Rowling has taken down all her extra tidbits regarding Harry Potter from her website so she can move it over to Pottermore. Judging by how slowly Pottermore has moved so far, who knows how long that will take to accomplish -- years? But, no, Squibs cannot see dementors. Canon doesn't mention Filch and Thestrals, so we actually don't know one way or the other whether he can see them or not (we don't know if he's seen death either), but we do know Filch can see Peeves and the ghosts.

Animal/human communication is a complicated thing. Animals learn cues from people and vice versa. Mrs Norris clearly has more heightened senses than Mr Filch does. For example, Mrs Norris comes across Harry, Ron, Neville, and Hermione under the Invisibility Cloak in Philosopher's Stone (chapter 9, The Midnight Duel) and she stands there for a long moment, clearly sensing the presence of something, but she cannot see through the Invisibility Cloak. She returns to Filch and somehow communicates to him that there are people present and out of bed after hours.

How does she communicate? As you mention, a specific sound or meow is a good possibility. It could be that she's been trained to paw the ground a certain number of times, depending on the infraction: Students out of bed -- one paw; Peeves destroying Hogwarts' property -- two paws; general suspicious behavior, such as Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday party -- three paws. Many service animals are trained to communicate with their owner using specific body movements, such as pawing or laying the head on the owner's lap or sitting automatically when the owner approaches a street corner.

As for Mr Filch and Mrs Norris sharing a special language, I don't think that's likely and here's why: Parseltongue is a magical language, passed down only by Salazar Slytherin to his descendants. First, Mr Filch is a Squib and has no magical abilities -- I don't think he would be capable of understanding or speaking a magical cat language. Second, canon only indicates Parseltongue as a language shared between humans and reptiles; no other human-animal languages are demonstrated (although Dumbledore clearly has a strong channel of communication with Fawkes; no actual language is revealed, though)

A good guess, I believe, is that Filch uses verbal commands (as we see him do in the quote you provided from Philosopher's Stone and Mrs Norris uses physical cues to communicate with each other. Canon states there is a mysterious power at play between Mr Filch and Mrs Norris, so there is an aspect of their communication that cannot be explained by canon or anecdotes.

  • 3
    I understood that "mysterious power" line to be a bit of hyperbole, similar to someone who always calls you on the phone when you're about to leave the house. (For the young'ns, this one was used before cell phones were common.. Which would have been when the early books were published) – Izkata Sep 8 '12 at 20:01
  • 1
    @Izkata -- Sure, I think that's fair, calling it hyperbole. As for getting those calls when you've one foot out the door, I believe that particular form of hyperbole is called "Mom" ;) – Slytherincess Sep 8 '12 at 22:06
  • At one time I thought that Argus had once been a wizard but had his powers stripped/never used them because of an accident with a 'Mrs Norris' that had turned her into a cat. But as the quote says she's just a cat, and he's just a squib. – AncientSwordRage Sep 8 '12 at 23:12
  • 1
    Just because Harry describes Mrs. Norris as a cat doesn't mean that's all she is. Harry also thinks of Crookshanks as a cat; the half-kneazle bit came from JKR interviews, not from the seven books. So why couldn't Mrs. Norris be half-kneazle too? – Joe White Sep 9 '12 at 2:44
  • I wondered if Mrs Norris was somehow magical too for quite a long while. I don't think she is, though. The books specifically call her a cat (I realize Crookshanks is called a cat as well) and she does seem to have amazing intuition. Here's a link to Pottermore where JKR calls Mrs Norris "an animal" rather than "a magical creature." Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine :) flickr.com/photos/slytherincess/7000497942 – Slytherincess Sep 9 '12 at 18:54
2

Squibs can apparently communicate with cats.

Filch isn't the only one who seems to have this power, Mrs Figg does as well. Order of the Phoenix:

‘He left!’ said Mrs Figg, wringing her hands. ‘Left to see someone about a batch of cauldrons that fell off the back of a broom! I told him I’d flay him alive if he went, and now look! Dementors! It’s just lucky I put Mr Tibbies on the case! But we haven’t got time to stand around! Hurry, now, we’ve got to get you back! Oh, the trouble this is going to cause! I will kill him!’

Also:

‘Yes, yes, yes, but luckily I’d stationed Mr Tibbies under a car just in case, and Mr Tibbies came and warned me, but by the time I got to your house you’d gone – and now – oh, what’s Dumbledore going to say?

Mrs Figg found out about the dementors because her cat, Mrs Tibbs, told her! Do you understand the implications of that? It means Squibs do have some magical power - they can communicate with cats.

(Other answers have mentioned this, but no one has brought the quote that proves it from canon.)

  • That's interesting that squibs can communicate with cats (and useful to have the quotes) but it still doesn't explain exactly how the cat communicates (telepathy, mewing, interpretive dance?) – Nicola Talbot Jun 20 '18 at 10:36
  • Probably Telepathy, based on Mr. Filch. – TheAsh says Reinstate Monica Jun 20 '18 at 10:39
  • I wonder how may pet owners think of their animals as 'communicating' when really they're just anthropomorphising(?) their pet's behaviour. She left her cat under a car, the cat got scared and went to find the owner who provides love and food. 'Warning' or 'instinctive behaviour'? – Longshanks Jun 20 '18 at 11:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.