Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Edgar Allan Poe, Collette, Truman Capote, George Plimpton, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, Patricia Highsmith, Mark Twain. What do all these writers have in common, besides being great? And I share this commonality (not the great part, at least not yet). All were or are cat lovers.
We’ve all heard of Hemingway’s famous six-toed cats that still rule his home on Key West. But I was unaware of how many other authors also loved cats. Take a look at this website, http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/30-renowned-authors-inspired-by-cats, to see some wonderful pictures of the above listed authors as well as eighteen others with their cats.
My partner, Lisa, and I currently own four cats and one dog. Our fur-babies. At one point we had six cats and five dogs. Unfortunately we had to find homes for a few of them when we moved to our current house and one of the cats and two of the dogs have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Three of the cats we own are “my” cats.
Geri is our red tabby, geriatric cat. He’s seventeen years old and is on thyroid and high blood pressure medicine. He’s also the only one of the four who gets canned cat food. He’s got to be one of the pickier cats I’ve ever owned. The food HAS to be Friskies and he’ll only eat about three of the who knows how many flavors they have. Oh, and it has to be paté. I’ve had Geri since he was two weeks old and his momma got hit by a car.
Mouse is our big boy at about seventeen pounds. He’s a domestic short-hair with the prettiest gray fur I’ve ever seen. We wonder if he doesn’t have some Russian Blue in him. Mouse is our purr-box. You just have to look at him to set him off. And he’s our lover. Unfortunately, because of his size, it’s difficult to let him sit on me for any length of time before it starts hurting. I rescued Mouse from a “humane society” that was closing and planned to put all its animals down at six p.m. on the day they closed. I arrived at 5:59 p.m.
Sullivan is “the kitten.” He’s going to be four on March 17. But he is the baby in the family and he’ll always be our kitten. He’s the one that makes us go “what the –“ as he goes by at warp speed. He doesn’t know how to go in a straight line anywhere. He has to bounce of at least two things on the way to wherever. He loves heights and it’s not unusual to find him on top of the cabinets. Lisa got him for me when he was six weeks old from the veterinarian she worked for at the time.
The other cat, Jewels, and the dog, a Boston Terrier named Madison are Lisa’s. Jewels is a long-haired diva who is very much Lisa’s cat. And while Madison and I love each other, I’m NOT her mom and she is sure to let me know that.
So what does my dissertation on my animals have to do with the authors I listed above and writing? A lot actually. If you look into each of those authors another thing they had in common was they had a favorite place write. I haven’t had that luxury until just recently. We cleaned out our second bedroom that caught all the overflow from the rest of the house and made a portion of it into an office area for me. I have my bookcases full of books about the art and craft of writing and my reference books and the notebooks that hold my various and sundry manuscripts. I have bulletin board tiles on the wall and a dry erase board and I’ve tacked inspirational sayings all over the same wall. I have my desk and a desk chair and a lamp. It’s MY space – the first I’ve ever had that was just mine.
Well, I’ve come to find out that space isn’t just mine. Without fail, every time I sit down to write here comes one or the other of my three cats. Mouse especially loves to sit on my lap while I’m trying to tap away on my computer. Geri gets on the desk and rubs against the back of the laptop until it’s almost closed. The Boy – one of our many names for Sullivan – climbs among the detritus that is still stored in the room but once in a while will come and curl up on my lap.
If they would curl up, like Sullivan does, I wouldn’t mind having a cat on my lap while I write. Their warmth and their purrs are soothing and when I find myself stuck I can pet the cat and almost always the words come back to me. Unfortunately, Mouse doesn’t curl up. He has to sit on me, kneading his claws into my leg and head butting my arm, purring so loud he almost drowns out the music on my IPOD. Geri doesn’t curl up either. He prefers to stand on me and lean against my body. He’ll head butt my chin and silent meow when I look at him. Or he licks my chin. But most of the time he just stands there.
I have discovered there is definitely an art to writing when you have cats on your lap. At times I have to type one-handed to rescue my leg from the torment of Mouse’s claws or prevent Geri from closing the computer. Other times I’ve found myself holding my arms up, almost as if to play London Bridge, so that I can reach the computer keyboard over the cat on my lap. Once in a while, though, the cat will lie down and curl up and just purr. Then I can write and I find I’m actually a lot more productive with that ball of fur warming my lap.
More pictures of our fur-babies:
Tell me about your cats or other pets who help you do your writing.