Cat King in ‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Explained: Why Does Cat King Help Edwin?

The Cat King is a quirky and unusual supernatural being residing in Port Townsend in the Netflix adaptation. Despite his youthful, late-20s appearance, he is hundreds of years old. True to his name, he reigns as the sovereign ruler over all the cats in Port Townsend, with the felines under his command and dominion. Unlike many other supernatural entities, the Cat King is not entirely immortal. Instead, he possesses nine lives, a trait rooted in the proverb associated with cats. One of these nine lives is taken when Esther beats him to death. However, the Cat King also wields mystical abilities, such as shapeshifting into a cat or another human and teleportation at will. While initially depicted as a hedonistic and antagonistic leader of the cats, the Cat King’s character arc reveals a more nuanced anti-hero with his own intricate agendas. Notably, he is also portrayed as a gender-neutral icon, defying traditional gender norms.


Spoilers Ahead

How does the Cat King meet Edwin?

Edwin wanted to beat Crystal to the punch and to prove that Charles was wrong about her. As a result, Edwin ends up using a binding spell on a cat to reveal information about Esther. Edwin had only heard that using magic on cats is a no-go, but later he ends up learning the consequences. Right when the boys and Crystal are about to leave Port Townsend, they are surrounded by cats who inform them that the Cat King wants to meet the person who used magic on a cat. The cats then take them to the Cat King’s lair in a warehouse at the port, where the king of the cats reveals himself. 


Why does the Cat King put a caging spell on Edwin?

The Cat King finds himself captivated by Edwin’s handsome appearance and immediately develops a liking for him. Enticed, the Cat King leads Edwin to his bedchambers, casting a binding spell that prevents Edwin from leaving Port Townsend. As a form of punishment, the Cat King suggests that Edwin should sleep with him. However, the Cat King is not a villainous spirit who would directly violate Edwin’s consent. He recognizes that Edwin, a boy from the early 20th century, is likely closeted about his sexuality. Respecting Edwin’s boundaries, the Cat King offers an alternative: if Edwin wishes to break the binding spell, he must undertake the task of counting all the cats residing in Port Townsend.

Although tasked with the nearly impossible challenge of counting every cat in Port Townsend, the Cat King’s offer to Edwin carries deeper motivations. By presenting this daunting undertaking, the Cat King hopes to prolong Edwin’s stay in the town, perhaps harboring a desire for Edwin to eventually reciprocate his romantic feelings. The Cat King’s proposition mirrors the playful nature of felines, as he himself is a spirit of a similar disposition. Just as cats are known to toy with their prey, the Cat King engages in a cat-and-mouse game with Edwin.


Why does the Cat King reveal Monty’s real identity to Edwin?

Throughout the events of Dead Boy Detectives series, the Cat King tests Edwin. He appears in random instances to check if Edwin’s open to reciprocation yet. It is quite obvious that his playful liking for Edwin has developed into a crush. It is also quite obvious that Edwin felt flustered in front of him and was susceptible to his charms, but Edwin was far from realizing that loving a fellow man is no longer a sin in the 21st century. Maybe somewhere the Cat King knew that his feelings would always be unreciprocated. But still, he looked out for Edwin when he found out that Edwin was walking into a trap laid down by Esther. He didn’t care if Edwin was into Monty, but again, he feared Edwin being erased from existence. This was a major reason why he confronted Edwin while he was with Monty. 

Typically, one would not expect individuals with a poly-romantic, hedonistic lifestyle like the Cat King to be monogamous romantics. However, the Cat King himself is surprised to find that he harbors such inclinations, deviating from the norms associated with his nature. As he spends more time with Edwin, the Cat King’s perspective shifts, and he begins to appreciate Edwin for his qualities rather than merely desiring physical intimacy. Perhaps the Cat King comes to admire the good that Edwin does for other spirits through his detective agency, recognizing the nobility in his endeavors. This newfound respect for Edwin’s character transcends any initial, superficial attraction, revealing a depth of affection that the Cat King may not have anticipated.


What happens to the Cat King? 

For helping Edwin and revealing Esther’s plans to kill the ghosts, the Cat King is beaten to death by Esther, taking away one of his nine lives. The Cat King treasures his remaining lives and is quite scared of Esther. Initially, he thought he could take on the witch, but after what she did to him, he’d rather stay away from her. When Crystal and Niko go to the Cat King, he refrains from helping them, fearing for his own life, but does help them by telling them about Esther’s past. 

As Dead Boy Detectives series draws to a close, the Cat King makes one final appearance before Edwin after the tragic loss of Niko. In this poignant moment, he expresses his heartfelt condolences to Edwin, acknowledging the profound grief of losing a cherished friend. However, this encounter also serves as a moment of revelation as Edwin shares his newfound understanding of the enigmatic Cat King. Edwin observes that he and the Cat King share a fundamental similarity: they are both plagued by an underlying loneliness, which they deliberately distract themselves from by immersing themselves in other pursuits. 


Edwin’s observations ring true as the Cat King is a spirit destined to outlive most humans. Perhaps he has experienced the pain of losing a romantic partner in the past, forced to carry on while his lover’s life came to an end. This anguish, coupled with his feline nature, may have shaped his lifestyle and his penchant for seeking attention through playful antics. Just as a devoted cat parent understands their feline companions’ nonchalant yet attention-seeking behaviors, Edwin recognizes the Cat King’s games as a cry for connection. This realization humanizes the Cat King, transforming him from a mere supernatural entity into a complex figure haunted by his long life and past experiences. I hardly think that the Cat King would appear in a second season, but I would personally like to see more of him. Edwin did leave Port Townsend, and for the king to leave his dominion behind is unlikely. But again, don’t mind me if I’m secretly shipping him and Edwin. 

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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