If you can't tell, I am a dog person. How can I not be with a face like this to stare at every day:
I don't hear of writers talking about their dogs. I hear of cats and kittens and fluffy furballs, but not dogs. So I set out to investigate:
Cats are linked with writers and other literary types as the pet of choice. This is not because writers like cats. Most writers cannot stand cats. They are annoying creatures. But, like the hated muse, they are necessary evils of the writing business.
Successful writers are not tied to the keyboard 24/7. In order to write about life, they must experience life. Successful writers often forget this rule, so they need something to remind them. Cats perform this function remarkably well. They are great distractions. They need to be walked and fed and combed and played with. Their insistence on standing between the writer and the monitor reminds the writer to get up and move around occasionally, to get up from the monitor and come back later, to see the current literary masterpiece from a fresh, new angle.
While children perform many of these same functions, you do not have to worry about hiring a babysitter if you must leave suddenly to get ink for the printer or to conduct an interview if you have [...] a cat.
"The author lives in a converted barn in the West Country with her partner, who is a human rights lawyer, their two children, and four cats."
How many times have you read that, or something like it, in a writer's biography paragraph at the front of a book? How many author photographs have you seen with the distinguished man or woman of letters cuddling an unprotesting feline? Just what is it about cats that makes writers think we need to know they have an affinity with them?
While researching an earlier blog submission about Ray Bradbury I found online a picture of the stately SF author with his cat. It struck me how similar the image was to a famous photo of Beat legend Jack Kerouac, also up-close-and-puss-onal with a feline friend.
On a whim I stuck "author with cat" in Google's image search. There they were, a parade of writers of all genders and genres, the literary rubbing shoulders with the crime, the SF and chick-lit, all nuzzling a satisfied cat.
If those author biogs read, "… lives with his wife and three huge manatees on a council estate in Greater Manchester", then that's worth noting. If an author does actually work with an elephant in the room, then I'm interested in knowing that. But, again, why with the cats?
10 Things A Writer's Cat MUST Know
Cats that live with writers have to be especially creative to run the household they allow the writer to share. There are two methods that will get you the attention you deserve, you can use either plan:
Be the cutest cat in the world (not difficult but slightly humiliating).
Be the baddest cat in the world (easier and much more satisfying).
I suggest a combination of the two.
Get your writer involved in your day first thing in the morning; otherwise, you could starve if they get to the computer first.
Set the time you wish to rise and if treading lightly over the body of the sleeping writer does not wake them, proceed to CUTE by giving them a wet cat kiss on the face. They do not like it, but will never get mad because it is such an honour. (This is you at your cutest: use sparingly).
If cute doesn't get the writer out of bed you'll have to revert to plan B and more drastic measures. Proceed to BAD by first running heavily over the writer and finally launching yourself off the body with your FULL weight concentrated on ONE paw in a vital area of the dozing body.
Here's an entry from the cat's perspective:
The truth is, it hardly matters why writers like cats. What matters is why cats like writers.
Anybody who knows us (cats) also knows we don’t care what humans think, not really. The more you want us, the more inclined we are to hoist a back leg and lick our butts instead of submit to a lovedown.
If you purposefully avoid us — or, say, have allergies and enter a cat’s house — the more inclined we are to give YOU a lovedown. We sense these things. It makes life more interesting and ensures humans don’t get a skewed perception of who’s the boss in the cat/human relationship.
Writer humans appeal to cats because:
1) They tend to remain stationary for long periods of time, providing a non-moving lap — should we care to grace it.
2) They tend to be awake at odd hours of the night, and since we’re nocturnal, that means more petting or playtime — should we care to take advantage of it.
3) Because their schedules are more catlike than humanlike, their eating schedules also vary, which provides more opportunities for us to get snacks — should we care to eat them.
4) They tend to develop reflexive physical quirks when deep in “think” mode, like pencil jittering, hair twirling, toe tapping and knee bouncing, and said quirk can be nudged to include back scratching, neck tickling or belly rubbing — should we care to train them.
5) They zone out for long periods of time, and if we’re not in the mood for lapsitting, we can use that time to rampage through the house without them noticing — should we feel rampagous. It’s the perfect chance to do a number on the plants, the leather recliner, the dog, the laundry, the spot on the wall, the curtains, the gerbil, the sink, the rug in the den, etc., and it’s even funnier because technically they could have stopped us.
There's even a book about writing and cats! Writing with Cats: An Inspirational and Practical Guide for Writers
Loads of agents I follow on twitter talk about their cats and kittens a lot, too.
And there's even this writer on youtube that has a cat named Molly.
ALL OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE CATS!
Anyone else out there a writer with a beloved dog?
p.s. Anne Hathaway loves dogs. And I love Anne Hathaway, so cat-lovers can suck it.