Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Just add the cats!

Have you ever noticed how important cats, (ok, and dogs too but this blog is about cats) are to the writing process? Many books have been written over the years about writers and their cats. Where would we be without them?

There's cat-as-muse. This particular cat is fond of stretching out its full, langurous length across the desk, sometimes choosing a tiny open space between computer and the edge, but most often right on top of whatever you need to be reading at the moment. She lies there inviting you to marvel in her sleek lines, let your mind drift into free association, and thereby return to your task refreshed and enlightened.

Cat-as-editor frequently appears, doing the rounds of the house, and checking in to make sure their are no typos. This requires the cat to walk across the keyboard, pausing on a particular letter, probably one you need to pay more attention to. Or, he may be pointing out that the word you've chosen, the one he's highlighting, is simply the wrong word. Editor Cat is also very good at deleting entire pages but of course, that page wasn't working and needed to be re-written.

Cat-as-diva likes to check in periodically, helping the writer become more focused by posing dramatically in front of the computer screen. And not budging. Note the concentration of Diva Cat. Writers should be able to apply this lesson to their writing, being able to get totally into a scene and be oblivious to anyone who might be asking said writer to move out of the way.

Of course, cat-as-researcher is one of the most important roles. I have two Siamese cats in my mystery book club series. Not surprisingly, I share my house with two Siamese cats. When fictional cats chase each other up the stairs and play fight, it's probably because my two real cats have just done the same. The ability to hear a bag of treats being taken out of the kitchen cupboard when the cats are in the far upstairs TV room...well, that's fiction imitating real life again.

And, let us not forget the most important one, cat-on-the-lap, whose main task in life is to give non-judgmental love and support. And where would a writer be without these?

I suppose that in all honesty, a writer should mention her cats in the acknowledgements of each book. But then we might end up with Ego Cat and who knows where that would lead us!

Are you willing to admit, there's a cat (ok, or a dog) that plays a vital role in your writing? And as a reader, are you looking for the cat?


  1. Love the cat as muse. Dogs don't act as a muse (more a distraction) but they certainly like to be editors! Especially when they haven't realized they've grown far too big to be lap dogs. And then there's the soulful stare when they've decided you've worked long enough and a walk is needed. You could clock the stare at over an hour, I suspect, but I've never lasted that long.

  2. I hope that Daisy and Lily don't catch me saying Great Post and Cute Cats!

  3. Thanks, MJ -- neither I nor the cats will tell them.

    Barbara -- they're just trying to inspire you!