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Who Played Mrs. Norris in Harry Potter?

Do you know that Mrs. Norris, one of the cats in Harry Potter, is a tabby Maine Coon?

If you’ve watched the movies based on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books you’ll have noticed several cat actors stealing the limelight. One of these is a certain infamous Mrs. Norris. Cat-loving fans often ask who played Mrs. Norris in Harry Potter.

Firstly, if you are wondering who is Mrs. Norris in Harry Potter, she is the beloved cat of Mr. Filch, the caretaker at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She patrols the corridors, keeping a lookout for misbehaving students and seems to communicate telepathically with Filch as he soon appears when Mrs. Norris spots any wrongdoing.

Who Played Mrs. Norris in Harry Potter?
Mrs. Norris lookalike

For those who want to know is Mrs. Norris a Maine Coon cat, the answer is yes, she is. In the Harry Potter movies, Mrs. Norris is played by a large, tabby Maine Coon. To be more precise, she is played by at least five similar-looking Maine Coons, each used where their particular abilities are best suited.

Why were Maine Coons chosen to play Mrs. Norris?

J.K. Rowling describes Mrs. Norris as having ‘bulging yellow, lamp-like eyes, a scrawny, skeletal body, and dust-colored fur’. Those who know Maine Coons will be aware that they don’t fit that description at all. These native North American cats are sturdy, muscular cats with beautiful oblique eyes.

So, why were Maine Coons chosen to play scrawny Mrs. Norris? Probably because they are intelligent, confident cats with sociable personalities. They can also be trained – to an extent.

How Many Cats Played Mrs. Norris?

If you’ve been wondering who is the cat in Harry Potter you should actually be asking who are the cats. When it comes to how many cats have played Mrs. Norris, five Maine Coon cats are mentioned by name:

  • Tommy
  • Maximus
  • Alanis
  • Cornelius
  • Pebbles

Most of the time, Mrs. Norris is a real cat. Prop and animatronics versions of Mrs. Norris were used in certain scenes such as when Mrs. Norris was petrified (see more about this further on.)

Who Played Mrs. Norris in Harry Potter?
Another Mrs. Norris lookalike

Why Five Cats Were Used as Mrs. Norris

Each Maine Coon cat chosen to play Mrs. Norris had its own acting strength. It’s always wise to have a selection of cats to choose from if possible because they can be quite fickle and not always choose to cooperate. This is similar to theatre companies always having several children for each character in a play or musical.

According to Harry Potter Wiki, the Maine Coon actor known as Maximus was ‘trained to run alongside Filch and jump on to his shoulders’. Maine Coon Alanis ‘was trained to be held in Filch’s arms without squirming. She was so good at her job that often she fell asleep during shoots.’

Information about Pebbles can be found at Showcatsonline. Here she is described as an ex-breeding Maine Coon from an English cattery. Discovered by Birds and Animals Unlimited, she was trained by them for her role as Mrs. Norris. The article includes photos of her training sessions as she is taught to walk then stop at specific spots. Pebbles’ skills earned her the part of Mrs. Norris patrolling the school corridors.

How Do Cats Know How To Act?

Acting cats are chosen according to temperament. They should be well-socialized, confident around crowds of people and not likely to run and hide at the slightest sudden movement. Clicker training with treats is often used to indicate desired behavior. If the cats respond well they are gradually taught the behavior required for each scene. It’s best to work with a cat’s strengths which is why several are usually used as opposed to trying to get one cat to behave in a variety of ways.

Why is Mrs. Norris called Mrs. Norris?

J.k Rowling has explained that Mrs. Norris is named after the character of the same name in Jane Austen’s novel, Mansfield Park. I have studied Mansfield Park and can tell you there are similarities between each Mrs. Norris. In Mansfield Park, the human Mrs. Norris is a cruel busybody and the bane of her niece Fanny’s life, treating her cruelly at every opportunity. In Harry Potter, Mrs. Norris is an unpleasant cat who spies on children in order to get them into trouble with the school caretaker, Filch, so she is the bane of their lives too.

Who Played Mrs. Norris in Harry Potter?
A Mrs. Norris-like Maine Coon

Other Mrs. Norris questions and answers

There have been many questions asked in relation to Mrs. Norris. Let’s address a few of them:

  • Why did Filch name his cat Mrs. Norris? – J. K. Rowling has explained why she chose the name but within the story, there is no explanation of why Filch chose to call his cat Mrs. Norris.
  • Is Mrs. Norris a Kneazle? – Because she is a smart cat, many suspect Mrs. Norris is a cat and Kneazle cross, like Hermione’s cat Crookshanks. However, J. K. Rowling has stated that Mrs. Norris is just a highly unpleasant cat.
  • Why did the basilisk attack Mrs. Norris? – Mrs. Norris was petrified by the basilisk when she saw its reflection in a puddle. It is not clear if this was a deliberate attack or a coincidence.
  • Is Mrs. Norris the wife of Filch? – As Filch is a lonely old man who clearly loves his cat, there are rumors amongst Harry Potter fans that Mrs. Norris is his wife. As J.K. Rowling has disclosed her as being just a highly unpleasant cat, I think we can safely assume Mrs. Norris is just Filch’s beloved pet.
  • Is Mrs. Norris a Maledictus? – A Maledictus is a female who carries a blood curse that will eventually turn her into a beast. There is no indication in the books or films that Mrs. Norris is a Maledictus. The idea has just been banded about by fans in forums.
  • Is Mrs. Norris an Animagus? – An Animagus is a witch or wizard with the ability to transform into an animal. I’m convinced that Mrs. Norris is not an Animagus because J. K. Rowling has said she is just a cat.

Other Harry Potter cat-related information

There are two pure cats in Harry Potter:

  • Mrs. Norris, The cat belonging to Mr. Filch.
  • Fuzzlcaw, Rowan Khanna’s cat.

Five half-cat/half-Kneazles feature:

  • Crookshanks, belonging to Hermione Granger.
  • Mr. Tibbles, owned by Arabella Figg.
  • Mr. Paws, also owned by Arabella Figg.
  • Tufty, also owned by Arabella Figg.
  • Snowy, also owned by Arabella Figg.

There are two cat Patronuses:

  • Dolores Umbridge as a Persian cat.
  • Minerva McGonagall as a tabby cat.

Further reading

For much more information about tabby Maine Coons see our article Tabby Maine Coon Patterns.

Another well-loved cat in entertainment is Garfield. What type of cat is he?