Originally published in 2017
We have cats. I think most of us do, anyway. Every writer I know personally has one or more cats—oh there are a few of us who dare to own dogs AND cats. Or dogs only. But most writers live with companion felines.
Cats help us write. They warm our laptops. They perch on piles of research books and notes and help us keep them sorted. They know just when to walk on the keyboard, especially when one is composing a particularly difficult sentence or pushing through a particularly difficult scene.
Cats will remind us to get up from our chairs—few writers that I know are athletic types—apologies to those who are. When cats are hungry they work with us to make us rise, walk into the kitchen, take the partially-used cat food from the fridge, scrape it into a dish, and place it in that one particular spot where it must be placed. We can do all this while we are puzzling through character motivation, grounding, action, pacing and why the last chapter we finished didn’t feel right.
Cats keep us warm in winter. And keep us company through sleepless nights. All cats have to do is look at us, in their calm, inscrutable way, and we reach out to pet them. Our teeth-grinding eases and our blood pressure drops.
Cats amuse us. They play with twist-ties and ignore the cat nip mouse our sister crocheted. They “schiz-out”, dashing in zig-zags from the living room to the kitchen, leaping onto the couch to vanish behind and lurk, waiting to attack our ankles from the hidden depths beneath.
Their voices tell us what they want and how they feel about things. They know how to both say “please?” and how to demand. Some are more vocal than others. Some have a hidden switch when touched, with cause them to bite your petting hand. Some will sink to the floor and luxuriate under your petting hand. They all greet us, however, in the truly catly manner of rolling onto their backs and twisting back and forth, forepaws reaching out. Some cats don’t like to be held. Some cats like to be held all day, if they can get away with it.
Cats fit into the writer’s domain of bookcases, desk, and quiet. They are quiet, generally. They’re portable. They comfort us. They purr.
I know that, if cats could write, they could produce a book I would love to read.