Writers and Cats

What is it about writers and them liking cats? We have three meowsters in our house and while I have affection for them for being in my life for the last ten years, I won't be getting a cat or a kitten unless seriously persuaded by a future significant other that one must be taken in for their happiness. And it will be up to them to care for and clean up after them.

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?
- guardian.co.uk

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.


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.


Blatently stolen from Lynn Viehls's blog Paperback Writer:

ArchetypeWriting.com has a page of story starters and idea generators that can help with plot scenarios, character sketches, everyday problems and more.

Generate an extrasolar starchart over at Extrasolar Skies.

Have avatar but need a name? Get an interesting one from Outland.org's Name Generator.

Want a first name for a weird, alien or fantasy character? Try out Generatorland.com's First Name Generator.

You've got a business in your story; now name it with the Modern Company Names Generator.

Also from Generatorland.com, for you ladies writing those NASCAR romances, The NASCAR driver name generator.

The text/visual generator Plot Shot generates a random plot with random Flickr shots.

Got a mage character who needs to beef up his library? Try the Random Books Generator.

Nexi.com's Random Word Generator takes whatever text or word lists you feed it and recombines them. If you ever needed to create some names limited to a certain set of letters or vowel sounds, coin new words or just play with keywords for title ideas, this is the generator for you.

Need the name of a random but real American town or city but can't find your atlas? The USA place name generator "selects a random named location from 1990 United States Census data. Because the smallest towns have the same likelihood of being chosen as the largest cities, there's a decidedly rural flavor to the selections." It's also hooked up to MapQuest if you want to see where the town is located.

Visit her blog here: http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com

What do you do with a degree in English?

I'm a huge huge fan of graphjam. One of the graphs from today caught my eye:

song chart memes

And it got me thinking... A good number of readers here have an MA in Creative Writing, or at least a BA or BS in English. So what to you think? What do you do with a degree in English? (and ignore the Avenue Q song, ok?)

Here's my take on how much you make as an author:

funny pictures

(I know, I know, not a true diagram that actually makes sense, but it does make sense, so yeah.

We need a little cute around here!

Things have been busy at the Marshall/Brown house. Sandy had her pups on Sunday! Enjoy the cuteness!

Max Monroe Morgan Marilyn Mason Madison Marvin Monty Molly

Max is our resident horse-puppy. Seriously, he's huge. Optimus Prime huge. We affectionately call him Cow.

Monroe is second size-wize. He's pushy, too.

Morgan was the last born. His birth sister Mable didn't live.

Marilyn, Mason, and Madison are nearly identical. Mason has more white on his back, Marilyn has less of a white-tipped tail than Madison.

Marvin was born first, he's sooooo tiny!

Monty's a shover. He wants food and doesn't care who he has to knock over to get it.

I won't lie, Molly's my fav! She's second tiniest to Marvin. I always let the two of them take first dibs when they're hungry. At least until they get bigger. I wish I had a job so that in six weeks i'd be able to keep Molly. But honestly, we don't need another dog in this house. I still covet her though! In fact, I've written this entire post one-handed as Molly sleeps curled up in my other hand nice and warm!


Any good writer will have shelves and shelves of books that they don't know what to do with or can't bear to part from (or at least a well-used library card). If donating or selling your used books is not an option for you, you've got to have a place to put them. And who doesn't like a wall full of books, especially when they look like this?

While I like regular rectangle bookcases as much as the next person here are some other shelves that bring form to function.

Albero della Cuccagna
by Matteo Casarosa

This ironic shelf would be perfect for a child's room, or even an eclectic adult space. I absolutely love everything about it; the lines, the idea, the shape, the function... it's perfect.

The Bibliochaise: This “book chair" simply integrates a series of bookshelves around a place to sit, making it perhaps the perfect reading chair. The shelves come in a variety of colors, as do the cushions. You even have the option of upgrading to leather cushions if you feel a splurge coming on.

Another take on the book chair idea, the Bookinist by Nils Holger Moormann. I like the built in light and the wheel for easy maneuvering. It also looks like the seat back might fold down to create a table when not in use. Because you can't have too many tables.

This Rolling Shelf idea is pretty nifty. The shelf rolls up to allow for a tall object and then rolls back down flat when you decide you want to move the object, or, if like me, you kill you cacti.

This unique bookshelf expands when you get more books (Christmas? Birthdays? Book launches?) yet still has that element of style built right in. Plus, with the varying sizes of shelves, there is no wasted space for short and tall books. DVD's, CD's and other media could also be stored in the cubbies, providing a complete entertainment media storehouse.

The REK was created by Rotterdam-based designer Reinier de Jong.

There's a flat in London with a bookshelf with a built-in staircase that is simply stunning, if not a bit dizzying and hard to keep dust-free, especially so close to an outside door.

How awesome is this bookcase bedroomDesigned by Point Architects in Tokyo?! If I had a bigger room, I'd totally want one! But I like holes and dark places. (That's what she said).

the more avant garde side of us might like the Lovely Rita. Made in Italy by Kartell, this Lovely Rita Bookshelf ($285 USD) is available in four translucent color options, and adds an elegant and sophisticated accent to your living room, bedroom, or study.

While not very functional for large amounts of books, the Neverending Bookcase is really pretty. I think I'd spend hours and hours just staring at it and pondering life's questions.

Maybe you've only got a few books, but still want to display them in a creative way? How about the Floating Book Shelf then? The bottom book hooks onto the shelf using a clever little lip on the underside and then the rest of the books just stack on top! For about 10$ on Amazon, it's a steal.

Speaking of steals, how about bookcases that do double-duty? Using the bookcase coffin, you can have your books and... uh... be buried in the case, too. With the doom and gloom surround paper books these days (and the supposed AWESOMES! surrounding ebooks) this seems a bit too literal and ironic. Plus it's not pretty. And I want to be cremated.