I write with cats, two to be precise; their names are Mowis and Xena (full name Xena Warrior Princess). With that being said, I’m sure you imagine a woman with a typewriter, sipping tea, one cat perched on the end of a desk and another asleep in the her lap. Quaint, but anyone who has cats knows there are a few downfalls to writing with creatures of the four-legged variety.
For starters, cats don’t respect personal space.
I always imagined I would write while my cats slept beside me, on the couch, or in their designated sleeping areas. (The only space I’ve been able to designate is where they eat and where that food goes once it’s digested.) It doesn’t matter where I write, one sits on me or my laptop while the other sits on my mouse. Both positions are super effective against writing. Moving a cat once they are comfortable is more difficult than breaking out of a Full Nelson. While I write, I don’t find their proximity soothing or companionable. If anything, I feel like they are breathing down my neck as their marble-glass eyes seem to be reading everything I type.
Which brings me to my next point: cats are critics.
When it comes to writing, my cats are more like critics than companions. Sometimes I think the physical blocking of my mouse or laptop is the only way they can keep me from doing something that they feel is a waste of time. When they meow, I hear, “Give up, you talentless hoomanz!” I don’t escape cat criticism when I go to my sister’s house either because she has two cats as well. Her cat, Mr. Beefy, once shredded writing that I gave her to edit. If that isn’t a flame review, I don’t know what is.
Grammar, syntax, spelling, there’s nothing a cat won’t correct-butcher. My cats walk across the keys constantly, adding letters, deleting text, sometimes entire paragraphs of writing that wasn’t catworthy. Why else would they walk on a keyboard? Cats are known to dislike texture under their paws. It can only be to edit, and their edits are brutal. Where you simply needed an apostrophe, they insert a catastrophe.
This next one goes without saying: cats have claws.
While Mowis has only his back claws, Xena Warrior Princess has a full set. Sometimes when I’m writing she sticks her claws into my legs. They go through everything, even my thickest jeans; I think they could go through metal pants.
So why do I have cats? I think it’s because I fell victim to the Puss and Boots eyes, or that creative minds are just drawn to them. Some of histories greatest authors wrote with cat companions: Ernest Hemmingway, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, and Sylvia Plath to name a few. They all have wonderful quotes about the joys of writing with cats purring in their laps. Which makes you wonder, were they great authors because they were talented, or because they had a cat critic.