Oh the unbearable existential agony of it all: immortalized on the wall, forgotten on the floor! I love the ending: “Et parfois, la porte du chat est fermé.”
Why are writers attracted to cats? Barbara Holland once wrote: "A catless writer is almost inconceivable. It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys." So is it because writers like someone to make life difficult for them? Are writers masochists? Or maybe like Andre Norton wrote: "Perhaps it is because cats do not live by human patterns, do not fit themselves into prescribed behavior, that they are so united to creative people." There certainly seems to be something otherworldly about cats.
In his Bartimaeus Trilogy Jonathan Stroud states that there are several planes of reality through which all sorts of entities from the spirit world move. He writes that most living things (including humans) can only see the first plane, with the exception of cats. Cats can also see the second plane. Have you seen how sometimes, for no apparent reason, a cat will jerk its head and stare wide eyed towards an area where there is obviously nothing worth staring at? It sort of makes you wonder what they can see that you can't.
These and other characteristics have created some problems for these felines. For example, in the Middle Ages Pope Gregory IX in the papal bull Vox in Rama linked cats to evil rituals. In the ensuing years countless cats (and sometimes their owners, too) were slaughtered, setting the stage for Europe to be overrun with rats carrying the black plague. However, in other times and places like, for example, Egypt, people were fond of cats and the ancient Egyptian Goddess Bastet was depicted as having the head of a cat. Depending on where you live today, a black cat may be associated with good or bad luck. Here in the U.S. we have the saying that a cat has nine lives.
No wonder cats have a supernatural aura about them. Perhaps it is because of this that creative people like writers are avid cat owners. Some writers go as far as to include cats in their fiction. The writer Lilian Jackson Braun published 29 books in which cats help a reporter solve murder mysteries. Perhaps staring at those haunting eyes framed by those pointy ears, helps writers establish a connection with their muse. On the other hand, there may be a more obvious explanation. Dan Greenburg wrote: "Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance." Be it as it may, if you are a writer and you own a cat you are part of a long and distinguished tradition. Today let's celebrate writers and their cats!
H. P. Lovecraft
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Jean Paul Sartre
Jorge Luis Borges
Somerset Maugham and Max Ernest