Mister Tibbles? Mrs Norris? Why do the animals owned by Squibs seem to have similar names? And particularly human-sounding names at that?
In chapter two of Order of the Phoenix, we meet Mrs Figg properly for the first time. She’d turned up in book one as the seemingly insignificant neighbor lady who minded Harry when the Dursleys were out. She was mentioned again in Goblet of Fire, although readers at the time weren’t sure it was the same person. Dumbledore asks Sirius to alert folks he refers to as “the old crowd” and includes someone named Arabella Figg in the list. Fans spent a lot of time speculating whether Arabella Figg could possibly be the same person as the batty old babysitter of Philosopher’s Stone. Which of course she was.
In book one we learn that Mrs Figg is a cat-lover. She forces Harry to look at photos of all the cats she’d ever owned, which included Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and Tufty. That’s MISTER Tibbles, as we learn in Order of the Phoenix.
According to Rowling, these animals are not simply cats. She said on her old website that Mrs Figg’s cats are actually cat-Kneazle cross breeds. In other words, they’re magical animals. Rowling makes clear that they function as support animals for Squibs, rather like service dogs do for us Muggles. She wrote:
Filch has carved himself a niche at Hogwarts and Arabella Figg operates as Dumbledore’s liaison between the magical and Muggle worlds. Neither of these characters can perform magic (Filch’s Kwikspell course never worked), but they still function within the wizarding world because they have access to certain magical objects and creatures that can help them (Arabella Figg does a roaring trade in cross-bred cats and Kneazles …). — JKR
These magical helpers do a lot more than just slink around and cuddle. Mrs Norris is described this way in book one:
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. — PS8
Mister Tibbles was also capable of reporting to Mrs Figg. He related to her what had happened with Mundungus Fletcher. Clever creatures indeed! Here in chapter two of Order of the Phoenix, one of those clever creatures sets in motion a hilarious sequence where we and Harry discover that his old babysitter was part of the Wizarding world all along.
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In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, one to two minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.
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