Writers and Cats

A Six-Toed Hemingway Cat

Have you ever noticed that writers frequently have cats?  I have an opinion (or maybe just an observation) that I’d like to share on the subject:

Of course there are the obvious perks:  Cats don’t require us to stop what we’re doing to care for them.  When we’re lucky, they might decide to curl up on our lap or our desk, and they may make their presence known once in a while by walking across the keyboard as we type.  But they eventually fall asleep and let us become absorbed into our “other life” which we’re writing about.

When we proofread, sometimes we like to hear out loud how the words flow.  If we tell people we’re talking to our cat, we don’t sound as crazy as we do if we’re observed sitting home alone, reading out loud to no one in particular.

Cats are good critics.  If we read to our cat and the dialog flows well, they may just stick around if we’re lucky.  (If you read to a dog, they tend to take that as a sign that you want to play, and they proceed in attempting to convince you to get out of your chair and follow them.)

Stephen King and his catWhile dogs are nice, they require a great deal more attention and upkeep than a cat. They’re carefree and laid back.  Dogs are like, “Hey!  It’s me!  Look at me!  Touch me!  I’m over here!  Love me!  Hey, let’s throw the ball!  Do ya wanna go outside?  Do ya? Do ya?  Huh?”

Edgar Allan Poe and his catCats are more reserved. They are formal and high-brow.  They’re more like, “Hello.  I thought I might grace you with my presence for a few minutes.  Won’t that be a treat for you?  If you’re lucky, I’ll allow you to give me a good chin scratch.  Just don’t touch my belly.  Otherwise, I might have to scratch the bejeebers out of you.”

As such, dogs tend to interrupt the creative flow when they need to go out or just want some love.  But cats are self-sufficient.  They hide out until they’re ready to acknowledge us, then they give us a few minutes of their time before they curl up and fall back asleep.  We adopt dogs; cats adopt us.

Ernest Hemingway and one of his cats

A lot of well-known authors throughout history have had an affinity for cats.  I think the most notable is Ernest Hemingway and his famous multi-toed cats.  If you ever get a chance to go to Key West, you have got to stop by the Hemingway house and take the tour.  Not only is it quite interesting to walk through and see things like his original typewriter and desk, but you’ll also see dozens of offspring of his original cats.

Other famed authors that were (or are) known for keeping company with felines include Stephen King, Truman Capote, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, and T.S. Eliot, to name but a few.  Also, let’s not forget that Dr. Seuss loved cats so much that he wrote about one who went on to be famous in The Cat in the Hat.  (I made that part up about Dr. Seuss.  I have no idea if that’s really true or not.)

I personally have four indoor cats who help me write (as well as an outdoor feral cat who adopted me).  So on my desk next to my computer, I always have a bottle of water and a bag of sunflower seeds for me, and I keep a jar of cat treats for my feline friends.  At any given point during my time writing, when things get too intense, I can count on Zsa Zsa, Cleo, Snow, or Dakota stopping by for a little visit to break up my monotony.  And when my rabbit, Sir Wiggly Higgins, is out of his cage, he plays with his cat sisters and brother and thinks he’s one of them as well.  (These are my cats and bunny below… I apologize that Cleo couldn’t be bothered to get in the picture with everyone else.  As you can see, she was busy napping.)

Sir Wiggly Higgins, Snow, Dakota & Zsa-zsa

Cleo

While dogs have a low threshold of what it takes for them to attach themselves to someone, cats tend to set the bar high.  Cats, like writers, are wise, sensitive creatures who need to be understood to be fully appreciated.

Mark Twain and his catIf you write and you have a cat, good for you!  If you’re an author and you don’t yet have a cat, please go find one today.  If it adopts you, consider yourself blessed.

Charles Dickens

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37 thoughts on “Writers and Cats

  1. I always had cats! But when my last two departed this world, it was under traumatic circumstances (I will have to blog about Coco and Kimba one day!) and I was too broken hearted to replace them. Now I have a dog, and you have hit the nail on the head, Rachel! I would love, love, LOVE a little moggy, especially after what you have written, and the photos you have posted. Having a dog made me realise that I’m not a dog person, even though I’m fond of him.

    • Haha!! 😀 Two of mine stay on the floor (and one begs for treats), one jumps on me while I write, and the other one jumps on my desk, walks back and forth and sits on my mouse pad until I give her some treats. 🙂

  2. Cool pics here!

    For my first novel, I constructed a “cameo” cat role from the lives of three family felines, and I put my current kitty companion animal into my author bio at the back of the book.

  3. I love my little dogs, but they are all that you said they are. One is almost 15, and the other is 14. Brothers from different litters. They have given their hearts to me and I will miss them when they are gone, but they are a lot of work. I also have a beautiful marmalade tabby who adopted me from our cat community in our yard, and he is quite as affectionate as the dogs, but needs much less care.

    • I had a bulldog that was part pit bull, yet was the sweetest animal. When my daughter was born, he would sleep in front of her crib and guard her from anyone other than me picking her up. But he was so much to keep up with! It breaks my heart when I see dog owners that don’t make time for their animals. But cats, to me, are just easier, and I kind of feel almost “privileged” when one allows me the pleasure of petting or cuddling with them. LOL! 😀

  4. I love my cat to pieces! She is a very big help in the writing department. Sitting on my keyboard and trying to drink out of my tea cup while I’m distracted by my dog who wants me to toss the ball for her. Unfortunately my rabbit stays outside in her cage.

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