"a collection of courtly and elegant French fairy tales about white cats who were transformed princesses and fairies who were birds"

The book in question here is by Madame d'Aulnoy (1650-1705), a French writer who specialised in fairy tales.  A member of the nobility, she travelled widely in Spain and England, which helped inspire some of her stories.  Her first collection was published in 1697, and was called 'Les Contes des Fées', or simply 'Fairy Stories'.  The second collection, 'Contes Nouveaux ou Les Fées à la Mode' - 'New Tales, or Fairies in Fashion' - was published a year later.  Both books were extremely popular, although the often violent descriptions meant that were generally enjoyed by adults.  Themes of transformation were common throughout her tales, whether for good or for ill.  Although not translated into English as her contemporary Charles Perrault, she nonetheless proved very influential - not least for being the first writer to coin the phrase 'fairy story'. 

The White Cat