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I had an old answer of mine pop up, and it made me suddenly remember a book I read when I was in elementary school, probably around the 1988-1992 timeframe. The basic plot of it is that, at the start, a cat shows up at the gates of Heaven, and the entirety of the angelic staff are nonplussed as animals are not supposed to be allowed into Heaven. Nevertheless, said cat has a halo, and there's every indication that he's worthy. Being a perfectly normal cat otherwise, they can't exactly ask him any questions, so they start researching the cat's history somehow. Meanwhile, Hell is trying to use this situation to suggest that Heaven's criteria for accepting people are flawed and that the system should be overturned. I remember a scene where three black shadowy cats with seemingly perfect halos are sent up by the Devil to dance in front of Heaven's gates to mock the situation.

Ultimately, the story of the cat gets told. He was residing at a church, I think with a Bishop in residence (I remember a scene where someone kissed the ring). Some workers are there, making repairs to the church and, unbeknownst to the church, one or more of them are actually saboteurs who have set explosives in the church. This cat somehow realized the import of what they were doing, and clawed the blasting cap out of the wall and was biting down on it when they hit the button to set it off, killing the cat and making it a martyr.

I read this at a Catholic elementary school in Kentucky, so I doubt there was anything highly noncanonical in it, although I know my mother and I had a discussion about the difference between fictional and non-fictional books when I tried to use it as an argument for pets being able to go to Heaven. I'm pretty sure it was a hardback book, not terribly long, probably under a hundred pages, and had a pen-and-ink drawing (maybe colored) of the cat with a halo over his head, at the gates to Heaven.

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    Since this is religious allegory, I'm not sure that it's a terribly good fit for SFF:SE. Possibly a better match for Lit:SE? – Valorum Mar 23 '18 at 17:35
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    Eh, I don't think it pretended to be an actual religious text in any way, so the fluffy-cloud type of Heaven it had seems more fantastic to me. But I will yield to others if they so suggest. – FuzzyBoots Mar 23 '18 at 17:40
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    I think this is a pretty iffy one that could go either way depending on what the answer ends up being, but for now, I'd think it's a tentative fit for this site. – Pleiades Mar 23 '18 at 17:52
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    I'd say this is no more off topic that Fuzzy's other other heaven related post (well....robots aside, but come on, a cat with enough awareness to abort a bombing?) - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/125851/… or this one: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/174128/… – NKCampbell Mar 23 '18 at 17:57
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    I've read this over 40 years ago and for years I thought it was by Graham Lord, and called Magnificat. But I've never ever found any evidence for that, either under his name, or that title. But for what its worth I have read the book. – Simon Bucher-Jones Mar 23 '18 at 23:08
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It's Magnifi-Cat by Carolyn and Edmund Sheehan.

Here's a snippet from a review on Amazon which confirms my memory:

"It is about a cat who was hurled against a Bishop's door in dreadful weather, and was given the shelter "due any waif in a storm". The two develop a great bond that lasts beyond death. St Peter is perplexed; Satan is too, and Heaven's computers seize up, until a way can be found to start them again without breaking any of the rules, specifically the Prime Directive. The problem is that the Recording Angel has no data for a non-human, so the Cat with a halo of a Maximal Saint can't be processed until a way is found of accessing his life story."

  • I've taken the liberty of editing in links to the book and a link to the quote. – Valorum Mar 23 '18 at 23:29
  • That is the one! The cover clinches it. I was thinking of the title, but I couldn't get it to work... I think it might have been the lack of hyphen. – FuzzyBoots Mar 23 '18 at 23:32
  • Thank you, I haven't yet worked out how to do that I'm afraid. – Simon Bucher-Jones Mar 23 '18 at 23:32

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