Sunday, 3 January 2016

CATS ARE LIKE MUSIC... by Sharon Tregenza

The quote goes "Cats are like music. It's foolish to try to explain their worth to those who don't appreciate them". After my last blog about the relationship between authors and dogs I thought it only fair to write a fluff piece for cat lovers.

It wasn't difficult to find examples of feline fancying writers... Colette, Twain, Plath, Sagan, Chandler, Shaw and Bradbury are just a few.

Neil Gaiman is another:

Cat references litter his work in "Coraline" there's 'No,' said the cat. 'Now, you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names.'  

And from the wonderful "The Graveyard Book" 'Name the different kinds of people,' said Miss Lupescu. 'Now.' Bod thought for a moment. 'The living,' he said. 'Er. The dead.' He stopped. Then, '... Cats?' he offered, uncertainly.

Mark Twain made no secret of his admiration for cats. He said "I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love of course.

He even used them as a yardstick for potential friendship. 'When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction'

Ray Bradbury and his wife Marguerite (Maggie) loved cats. During the 1950s, when he was writing stories like "The October Country" and "Dandelion Wine" twenty two cats called the Bradbury house their home.

Bradbury used cats to make a point in his famous "Zen and the Art of Writing".  He said, 'that's the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.'

Charles Dickens once said, 'what greater gift than the love of a cat'. His cats were notorious for extinguishing the flame on his desk candle. In 1862 he was so upset by the death of his favourite cat, Bob, that he had its paw stuffed and mounted on an ivory letter opener. The opener was engraved with the words, "C.D., In memory of Bob, 1862"

This odd relic is now on display at the Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library.

It's easy to see why so many authors enjoy the company of cats.  They're small, quiet and lap-sized. Perfectly designed for those long, solitary hours working at a desk.


catdownunder said...

"The smallest feline is a masterpiece" (Leonardo da Vinci) pretty much says it all about cats! (Not that I am in the least bit biased of course!)

AnneR said...

The letter-opener - very bizarre. But I suppose it's in keeping with all those mourning bracelets made of the deceased's hair and so on.

David Thorpe said...

Great post. Feline fancying pen pushers are numerous. It is lovely to have a cat sitting on your desk or on your lap while you are writing, I testify to that myself with my beautiful Maine Coon cat Ramanujan. William Burroughs wrote a book about his cats, The Cat Inside. Jack Kerouac described the death of his pet Tyke. Charles Bukowski has had a book describing his love of cats published posthumously. Knowing that these writers had a soft spot for pussies somehow softens them. On the subject of Neil Gaiman, his most recent, highly recommended and extremely beautiful book, Overture, a prelude to the Sandman series, contains a cat-like being walking besides the eponymous protagonist that is not what it seems. It is this ambiguous quality of the nature of cats which makes them particularly fascinating, as well as their independence, which is aptly described in Rudyard Kipling's classic The Cat that Walked By Himself.

Susan Price said...

Cats are perfectly suited to writers because they're small and quiet?
It's obvious you never met my ex-cat, Biffo. He was large, noisy and bossy. Five years after his death, I still miss him.

Sharon Tregenza said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. David, one of the reasons I chose the subject is because I'm seriously considering getting two kittens - Maine Coons certainly are a breed on my list.

David Thorpe said...

Maine Coons are delightful and - like the 02 cat - more dog! Very talkative and friendly. And large!!