Writers and Their Familiars

Somebody’s trying to tell me something. These are a couple of the cards I received for my recent birthday.









And this is the bag that contained a few birthday gifts.

kitty-bagFor several months now (has it been years?), I’ve been talking about getting another cat. I’ve been feline free since I lost my darling Rumi in 2012. I mean what kind of writer am I that I don’t have a cat?

cat-butt-magnetsI do have some near-cat experiences. Most mornings as I sit at my kitchen table writing, I catch glimpses out my window of Lennon, the black cat that lives next door as he leaps from rooftop to fence railing, where he does his yoga-like stretches and morning ablutions. Plus, I have these cat-butt magnets on my fridge—another birthday present—but these are just teases of the real thing.

“If you want to write, keep cats,” Aldous Huxley said.

We all know about certain writers and their cats: Hemingway comes to mind, for an easy example. And there’s also Edward Gorey, who said he liked cats more than people. Gorey illustrated T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. “Books. Cats. Life is good,” Gorey said. Eliot was a cat-man, too. As were William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Edgar Allan Poe, of course, who once said, “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” Neil Gaiman, Mark Twain, the list goes on. In fact, here’s a list of 30 Renowned Authors Inspired by Cats from a BuzzFeed post.

Not just men, of course: Colette, it’s said, began her morning writing by picking fleas from her beloved felines. “There are no ordinary cats,” she said. Sylvia Plath, Doris Lessing, Patricia Highsmith, all were cat women. As is Joyce Carol Oats who said “I write so much because my cat sits on my lap. She purrs so I don’t want to get up.” (So that’s her secret!) Rumi didn’t sit on my lap so much as he sprawled across my keyboard. And my notebooks. Actually anywhere he wanted to. I still miss him.

Rumi's MAC Book

Rumi The Writer

I’ve been thinking of paying a visit to the Cat Cafe in downtown San Diego. Have you heard of cat cafes? They started in China and Japan several years ago and found their way to the US where a couple dozen such places invite patrons in for a coffee and a cuddle. What could be better combination for a writer than coffee and cats? Many of the cat cafes work with humane societies and have kitties that are available for adoption. San Diego’s is one of those. It’s located in the Gaslamp Quarter, just around the corner from the original location of The Writing Center at 3rd and Island so there’s the hint of nostalgia for me as well.

Now that I’m in the throes of a longer work, I might just need a companion to help me see it through. If I do find a kitty to come and live with me, you’ll be the first to know. And then you’ll have to put up with the endless photos of me and my cat on Facebook.

What about you? Are you a cat writer? Or a dog writer? Or do you go it alone?

9 thoughts on “Writers and Their Familiars

  1. I don’t believe this, first my computer had m a l w a r e attack after sticking my nose where I should not and now (after inventing new violet words trying to secure passwords) my message here has been sort of absconded. Anyway no I don’t care for cats or dogs but I wonder if a cat could ferret (!!!) out the poltergeist who turned my coffeemaker on while I was on the exercise mat?

    However I have a cave full or fungus gnats begotten when I stuck to summer plants hydration schedule a tad too long. Cats. Gnats.

    • Be very very careful where you click. Especially if you don’t want to see cat photos. If you click on one, they follow you and show up everywhere, on your FB page, especially. FB is especially susceptible to cat photos.

  2. Having clicked a link that promised gossip about Trump — and I’m not American– I blew up my computer and my violet vocabulary too. Well it didn’t explode but my temper did when I picked up m a l w a r e and it took over my machine. Had I had a cat it would have grabbed my witchy broom and flown over to Judy’s house for safety.

    Not a cat or dog lover. Especially when they try to drive my broom. Imagine.

    Gad oh no please no more cat photos. Sigh. Hey are those good at ferreting (catting?) out that poltergeist that keeps turning my coffeemaker on while I lift weights?

    • Oh, Linda. Be very very careful what links you click onto. There are some scary ones out there and not just because Halloween. Nope, this American election is beyond the beyond. As for cats… listen, it’s a rule: if you have a cat, you have to post pictures. Sorry.

      • I thought up a great writing prompt. Go into the future and talk about President Trump. Canadian perspective.

        Sorry about the double messages, I was having a freak session with the computer yesterday.

  3. Oh, Judy! I, too, am a catless cat lover. One of my favorite sweatshirts is the Gorey “Cats Books Life is Good” one, now well worn and so comfortable. I also have Charles Wysocki’s book Cat Tales (can’t get this underlined) and the wallpaper border that goes with it in my little tv/computer/reading room. I will send you a copy of my first place poem from last year. It’s about the cat we had when my kids were growing up, a true member of our family. More in a letter.

    • Hi Bonnie, Thanks always for sharing your life and loves with me. I’ll look forward to your letter and reading your poem. Congratulations! on your first place prize. I bet there will be a kitty posing with me before long. xo

  4. I know you’ve talked of getting a dog, but I think a cat would be more suited to your writing lifestyle. Would love to join you at the downtown Cat Cafe someday! Sounds purrrfect!

    • Hi Jill, Well, you certainly know me and my writing style and what comforts I need. Yes, let’s go to the Cat Cafe and see who wants to say hello.

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