Balerion catches a raven. Art by Jordi Gonazels Escamilla
Balerion was a kitten belonging to Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, who liked to pretend he was the great dragon, Balerion the Black Dread. After Rhaenys was killed in the Sack of King's Landing in 283 AC, it was not known what became of her kitten.
Appearance and Character
Balerion is a old black male cat, with one chewed and torn ear that leads him to appear one-eared. He is filthy and foul-tempered, and has been known to attack ravens in the rookery of the Red Keep. The cat once stole a roast quail served to Tywin Lannister at a dinner with King Robert I Baratheon. He also once clawed Prince Joffrey Baratheon's hand.
A Game of Thrones
Arya Stark has been assigned by Syrio Forel to catch every cat in the Red Keep, and has succeeded with all except for one mean one-eared black tomcat. She chases him halfway across the castle before she finally catches him, and kisses his forehead while he tries to claw her. Prince Tommen Baratheon, his sister Princess Myrcella, and their septa observe this, and believe that Arya is a strange peasant boy who does not belong in that part of the castle. The septa commands red cloaks to grab Arya, but she escapes.
A Clash of Kings
A Feast for Crows
When King Tommen Baratheon is gifted three black kittens by his wife Queen Margaery Tyrell, his mother, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister, wishes they were not black, as she feels Princess Rhaenys's black kitten brought her bad luck.
A Dance with Dragons
King Tommen Baratheon tells his uncle, Lord Regent Kevan Lannister, that the "bad cat" had been outside his window the previous night, but his kitten Ser Pounce had hissed at him and he ran off. Cersei explains about the old black tom, who once attacked her son Joffrey.
That's the real king of this castle right there, older than sin and twice as mean. One time, the king was feasting the queen's father, and that black bastard hopped up on the table and snatched a roast quail right out of Lord Tywin's fingers. Robert laughed so hard he like to burst. You stay away from that one, child.
She had a small black kitten she called Balerion, did you know? I always wondered what happened to him. Rhaenys liked to pretend he was the true Balerion, the Black Dread of old, but I imagine the Lannisters taught her the difference between a kitten and a dragon quick enough, the day they broke down her door.
Could be.—George R. R. Martin's reply when asked if the black tomcat caught by Arya is Rhaenys's kitten Balerion
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 32, Arya III.
- So Spake Martin: Jeyne Poole and the Black Cat (November 14, 1999)
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 18, Sansa II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24, Cersei V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.