Bungle, the Glass Cat is a magical creature who lives in the Land of Oz.
The Glass Cat is transparent, except for its green emerald eyes, its hard ruby heart, and its pink brains. The brains look like a collection of marbles and can be seen working in the cat's head.
In personality, Bungle is almost stereotypically catlike: cool, reserved, isolated, and extremely vain. Through its incessant prowling throughout the Land of Oz, the Glass Cat acquires intimate knowledge of its complex terrain; and it is sometimes willing to exploit this knowledge to the benefit of Dorothy and her friends. Bungle is strongly resistant to damage or injury, which is a great advantage in its various adventures.
The magician Dr. Pipt, in testing his Powder of Life, animated the glass cat, and his wife Margolotte named it Bungle. The Cat proved unwilling to chase mice, which was the primary reason Margolotte wished to have it animated.
The Glass Cat guided the rescue party that saved Trot and Cap'n Bill from entrapment on the Magic Isle. (The Magic of Oz)
The usually-uncooperative Bungle found the lost Button Bright on Glinda's bidding, because "she really feared the great Sorceress...." (Glinda of Oz)
- The Patchwork Girl of Oz (first appearance)
- The Magic of Oz
- Glinda of Oz
- Lost in Oz: Rise of the Dark Wizard
L. Frank Baum also magically animated a spun-glass animal in an earlier story, "The Glass Dog," in his 1901 collection American Fairy Tales. The dog is not transparent but pink, with a blue ribbon around its neck and shiny black glass eyes. (There are transparent crystalline people living in a crystal city in Ojo in Oz.)
In its first appearance, Baum refers to the character as "the glass animal" or "it" at first, but within a few pages of Bungle's introduction he refers to the creature as "she." Other writers have also tended to view the cat as female.
In the final chapter of Patchwork Girl, the Wizard of Oz announces that he has replaced Bungle's pink brains with transparent ones, so that she is "so modest and well-behaved that Ozma has decided to keep her in the palace as a pet." Yet this is a case in which the Wizard's magic proves transitory at best: in all her later appearances, Bungle retains her pink brains as well as her pronounced egotism. (The Wizard's magical reformation of Jenny Jump proves similarly unsuccessful.)
The Glass Cat's unique mix of qualities has attracted the attention of Oz imitators and acolytes. Eric Shanower employs the Cat in his 1992 graphic novel The Blue Witch of Oz, where she brings about the story's positive resolution. David Hulan made the Cat his protagonist in The Glass Cat of Oz. Bungle plays an important role in other novels and stories, including Shanower's "Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen," Gina Wickwar's The Hidden Prince of Oz, and Greg Gick's Bungle and the Magic Lantern of Oz.
A few writers find Bungle provoking: Joshua Dudley shatters her into a hundred pieces in his novel Lost in Oz, while Michael O. Riley breaks her in two in his story "The Ruby Heart" (though the Cat is magically restored in both). Writers also try to "humanize" the Cat, warm her up emotionally: Riley makes her heart beat at the end of his story, while Atticus Gannaway, in his "Toto and the Truth," makes the dog and the Cat almost friends.
Both Oz felines, Bungle and Eureka, feature prominently in Scott Dickerson's Ruggedo in Oz; Bungle even claims to be Eureka at one point in the story.