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|“||Oh dear, Francis. You live through your ordinary little day and.. and fall asleep to dream your ordinary carefree little dreams through the course of the peaceful, undisturbed night. But then, I brought nightmares to your mind. Do you deny it? The world is Hell, Francis. And the crowning glory of hatefulness in this world... is man. And the joke, my friend... is that we're now no different to him.||„|
|~ Claudandus to Francis.|
Claudandus is the main antagonist of the German novel Felidae, and its 1994 animated movie adaptation. He is an elderly, extremely intelligent cat who, under the name Pascal, proved vital in helping the protagonist, Francis, solve the mystery of the cat murders that plague the cat society. However, it turns out that he is the one responsible for the killing spree. His name means "he who must be concealed" in Latin.
He was voiced by the late John Hurt, who also played the Horned King in Disney's The Black Cauldron.
Claudandus was once a stray cat who was picked off the streets by a scientist named Professor Julius Preterius, and became one of his favourite test subjects. Preterius and his team undertook awful experiments on stray cats, hoping to create a special glue that could heal flesh wounds. Preterius eventually went mad and bankrupt due to his repeated failures, talking to Claudandus like an old friend, and raving about a new, "perfect" breed of cats. Claudandus killed Preterius after the mad doctor "heard" him demanding to be released for a battle and complied. He released the surviving test subjects and was later taken in by Preterius' assistant Ziebold, where he learned about generics and ancient cat species.
He later decided to apply his former master's rantings for real. With help from Joker, he started the Church of Claudandus (originally known as the Claundandus Sect): a fanatical sect that worships him as a prophet and martyr, and awaits the coming of a new, superior cat specimen closer to those of ancient Egypt.
He also started a project to create said superior species, and mated the fittest cats he could find to breed a wilder, smarter and stronger kind of cats that he called the "Felidae"; planning to make them the dominant cat species and lead them against humanity. He then spread the story of his death and disappeared from the memory of cat, secretly adopting the alias "Pascal" to better control both from the shadows.
Claudandus killed hundreds of "unworthy" cats to avoid them mating with the females he was breeding and alter the process, among them many females pregnant with "half-breeds". He manipulated his fellow test subject Jesaja into guarding the crypt where he hides his victims’ corpses, posing as an apparition and making him believe that he is a chosen one.
Claudandus is a Havana Brown cat of immense intellect, able to understand humans, to read books and to use computers. The atrocious experiments he endured turned him into the supremacist murderer he is now, as he considers all humans to be evil. It is implied that such experiments gave him exceptional abilities. He apparently talked to Preterius and pretends to be responsible for the nightmares that keep plaguing Francis. Whether he truly has powers or pretends to have them through manipulation and suggestion remains unclear, though the latter seems much more likely.
Claudandus is an immensely skilled manipulator who orchestrates the situations from behind the scenes and leads the protagonists where he wants them to, while inspiring blind devotion and religious worship from other cats. He is ruthless, hateful, revengeful and misanthropic, but he is not without qualities. He remains quite lucid on his own failings, claiming that he is no better than the humans he hates so much, and he genuinely believes that the cat species as a whole breed would benefit from his schemes. Also, he has genuine appreciation, and even fatherly affection, towards his pupil Francis, seeing a successor in this young cat as intelligent and cynical as he is, though much less jaded and more moral.
Role in the Story
The story begins when a young cat named Francis explores his owner's new house and discovers the corpse of a killed cat. He then befriends an older cat named Bluebeard, and discovers the Church of Claudandus: a sect of cats whose adepts perform ritual suicide by electrocution. Chased by the cult, he meets a blind she-cat named Felicity, witness of the murders, and an old cat named Pascal.
Pascal soon takes Francis under his wing, showing him that he uses his owner's computer to list all the cat murders in the city, now including Felicity who knew too much, and teaching him to use machines. As Francis is plagued by nightmares, he starts investigating the cat murders and discovers that they were many, and that all cats were murdered before mating. It turns out that Francis' owner's new home once belonged to Professor Preterius, leading him to learn about Preterius' and Claudandus' gloomy history, now shrouded in myths, in old recordings.
Chased by Kong, the sect's largest and mightiest cat, Francis discovers Jesaja's crypt, understanding that the murders went on for decades. The murders were discovered because the killer stopped hiding the corpses in the crypt. He later meets Nhozemphtekh, one of the she-cats of Claudandus' "Felidae" breed, which is spreading among the neighborhood. Francis eventually learns that Joker, Jesaja, Felicity and even Bluebeard were once Claudandus' fellow test subjects. Later, Joker disappears, making it seem that he was the murderer acting in Claudandus' name.
However, Francis keeps investigating to find Joker, and eventually learns that the cult leader let himself be killed by the murderer. By finding and tracing the cats born through the "Felidae" project, he learns that the murderer is none other than Claudandus himself, who faked his own death and used (the willing) Joker as a scapegoat to cover his tracks and divert suspicion.
|“||The horror... so much pain... darkness... Francis, so much... darkness. You look at me now, and all you see Francis is evil. Yet once I was... good.||„|
|~ Claudandus' last words.|
Francis and Bluebeard go to Pascal's house and Francis asks his friend to keep watch, while he makes some researches on the computer about the "Felidae" project. Pascal then enters and Francis greets him by his true name, having deduced who he really is. The cat mastermind, who just grievously wounded Bluebeard, reveals that he wanted Francis to learn about his past and his project, and that he left clues to guide him on his quest. He also made clear of his only ally, Joker's, part in his schemes and how he submitted to execution out of fear that he would have told Francis everything. Knowing that he would die soon due to stomach cancer, he made the murders known to let a smart-enough cat discover his projects, hoping to reveal a worthy successor, whom he could convert to his misanthropic views. And that he chose Francis for the role.
He pleads that he tried to dissuade his victims from mating with "Felidae" and only killed them when he had no other choice in order preserve the purity of the project, before arguing about the vileness of humanity. However, Francis rejects his extremist rhetoric and erases all his files. Though he regrets coming to it, Claudandus engages a violent fight to the death with his former protege, accidentally setting the house on fire after destroying the computer. As Claudandus is lunging at him, Francis ducks under him and gores him with his claws, disemboweling him. Claudandus dies a gruesome death, expressing some regret about his evil deeds in his last breath, before being burned in the fire.
Francis then departs with Bluebeard, whose life is saved, but he never reveals the truth, preferring to remember Pascal as a wise mentor rather than a maddened extremist, and the "Felidae" project dies with its mastermind.