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When the fellowship is traveling through Moria, some of them become afraid. When Aragorn sees this, he gives a big speech telling them not to be afraid. At the end of this speech, he tells the company that Gandalf can find a path better than the cats of Queen Beruthiel. My question is: What are these cats?

[Gandalf] is surer of finding the way home in a blind night than the cats of Queen Beruthiel. (Aragorn, Fellowship of the Ring)

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    As currently stated, this question can be answered quite thoroughly with a single Wikipedia link. Do you intend your question to reach beyond the scope of that article? If so, the How to Ask page suggests you should share your existing research so as to help us provide answers that will actually help you.
    – BESW
    May 14, 2013 at 14:04
  • What's with the down vote? Wil the dive bombers explain their down voting? May 14, 2013 at 14:54
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    @jacen.garriss An explanation for the downvotes was already given (the first comment, which has, coincidentally enough, the same number of people agreeing with it as the number of downvotes you've received). Your question is easily answered by a quick google search. The tool-tip for the downvote button starts with "This question does not show any research effort".
    – Beofett
    May 14, 2013 at 15:03
  • @BESW where did all the other comments go? where they all moved to chat or deleted? IF they were moved to chat, how do I find them and continue the discussion. May 14, 2013 at 19:46
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    @ClaraOnager no that's not true. Jacen, if you come to Science Fiction & Fantasy Chat we can discuss this.
    – AncientSwordRage
    May 15, 2013 at 11:50

2 Answers 2

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Queen Berúthiel was most notorious for her cats—in particular, her use of them as spies. This is described in the Unfinished Tales:

She had nine black cats and one white, her slaves, with whom she conversed, or read their memories, setting them to discover all the dark secrets of Gondor, so that she knew those things 'that men wish most to keep hidden', setting the white cat to spy upon the black, and tormenting them. No man in Gondor dared touch them; all were afraid of them, and cursed when they saw them pass.

The above is quoted in the Wikipedia article on the Queen's cats, as well as in shortened form on the entry on the Queen herself.

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While Tolkien did later come up with an idea for what the queen's cats had been, at the time he wrote that, he had nothing particular in mind. He pointed this out in a 1955 letter to W. H. Auden (letter 163):

But I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf's failure to appear on September 22. I knew nothing of the Palantíri, though the moment the Orthanc-stone was cast from the window, I recognized it, and knew the meaning of the 'rhyme of lore' that had been running in my mind: seven stars and seven stones and one white tree. These rhymes and names will crop up; but they do not always explain themselves. I have yet to discover anything about the cats of Queen Berúthiel.

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