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A feline lecture in creativity

April 4, 2011

This is my cat, Reid, and one of his favourite toys, a stick with feathers in one end.

Now, what does a cat and his toys have to do with writing? I’ll tell you.
Reid likes me to wave the stick around so that he can jump after it and catch it. It’s the closest that he will probably ever get to catching a real bird, the poor thing. He also enjoys playing with it on his own. He’ll sneak up on it, pounce on it, and struggle with it. They roll around, and the cat is clutching the stick, bites the feathers, and although he is a fierce predator, the stick simply won’t give up. Sometimes it’s on top, sometimes he is, and sometimes I’m not entirely sure who’s winning the match. So far Reid has always gotten the upper … paw eventually.
But Reid knows it’s not actually a real, living creature. He knows this of the small, fluffy-looking ball and the string on the large bobbin and the toy mouse too. So what is it all about? I think it’s about imagination. He imagines that his toys are alive and that he is indeed a fearsome feline out hunting. It’s a game that he plays.
I know it’s instinctive. Reid is a cat and doesn’t have mature inner monologues about his motivation for playing. Still, he plays pretend, and I think it is nice reminder of what we do as writers. We have stories in our heads, and before we know it, they’re on a roll, and we’re doing our best to keep up with them, and at times it really seems like they have a life of their own. We let our imagination roam. And it’s a fantastic feeling. (Or maybe that is just me?)

One more point to make, and then I’m done talking about my cat, I promise. I’ve discovered that almost all my favourite authors have cats. Some have dogs too. Do you think pets are good for your creativity? I find that writing with a cat or two in the room is very relaxing and nice. Except when they want to lie on your keyboard … For those of you who write, do you have any animals around you? (And if you do, you may like a badge or two.)

19 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2011 4:56 pm

    My 2 kitties help tremendously with my writing. They are very good at plopping themselves down on my computer desk and making me sneeze (cat allergy), therefore increasing my steely determined concentration on my WIP (I’m stubborn that way, and my cats are geniuses to have figured this out). If I don’t sneeze right away, they will extend a paw and gently hook a claw into one of my fingers until I pet them. Then I sneeze, fine-tune my focus, and plow forward. They’re so thoughtful! >^..^<


    • April 5, 2011 8:29 pm

      I thought there was something about cats and writers! Yours sound as demanding/absolutely wonderful as mine. :3
      Thank you for commenting (and liking). πŸ˜€


  2. April 7, 2011 3:22 pm

    I’m allergic to cats! wahhhhhhhh

    It’s a tragedy of Shakesperean proportions as I absoutely love them and they love me too. All I have to do is walk out, and if I encounter a cat, it will come running to me, and because I love them, I can’t help but pet them. I’m okay if I wash my hands afterwards…

    Anyway, I want me a cat now…sigh


    • April 7, 2011 7:30 pm

      That is indeed sad! 😦 I grew up with dogs, but now that I find myself having a cat all of a sudden, I utterly love them.


      • April 8, 2011 7:38 pm

        Cats are the coolest. I’m lucky though, my landlady has a green-eyed tabby who loves me so I kind of have a cat, though it’s not mine, and as long as I don’t let her into my room, I’m okay πŸ™‚


        • April 9, 2011 10:19 am

          Aw! I have a thing for tabbies. I’m glad you have some cat in your life at least. πŸ˜€


    • April 7, 2011 7:31 pm

      Oh … And thank you for commenting! πŸ™‚


      • April 8, 2011 10:14 am

        Your welcome. I am a bit scatty with subscribing to blogs, I was convinced I’d subscribed to yours when I realised I’d not done it…DOH!


  3. April 8, 2011 2:13 pm

    oh he looks just like my cat.. i love an animal post, they have such personalities!


    • April 8, 2011 2:49 pm

      Thank you for dropping by and commenting! πŸ™‚
      Red tabbies are the best! (Shh, don’t tell my flatmate. She has a grey Norwegian forest cat. He’s fantastic too, though.)


  4. April 9, 2011 12:49 am

    Ha ha!

    I’ve never thought of myself as a cat (I’m not a cat person), but your comparison makes a lot of sense.


    • April 9, 2011 10:19 am

      Thank you for commenting! I’m really glad the comparison made sense. πŸ™‚


  5. michellekeyes permalink
    April 18, 2011 2:10 pm

    I love this and the photo is so great! He looks fierce – and confident of his domain, something I am feeling like right now after finishing a new short story. Like I can conquer anything.

    I definitely think animals are great for creativity. They relax us, give us companionship and unconditional love. We can learn a ton from animals and their simple ways.


    • April 18, 2011 3:30 pm

      Thank you very much for the comment – and the compliment. I love taking pictures of my cat(s). πŸ™‚
      I agree with you – animals are wonderful for creativity.


  6. April 30, 2011 4:38 pm

    I love the cat-as-muse/metaphor idea. And Reid is a beauty!

    I don’t let my girls into my office (too many opportunities for destruction – especially the Turkish carpet!) but they very thoughtfully bat their toy mice under the door and then entertain me with their little paws waving around under the door to try to get the mice. Like the first commenter, this reminds me to focus so I can finish what I’m working on and then go play with the girls.

    They’ve also inspired topics and as you may have seen, they make appearances on my blog from time to time πŸ™‚


    • April 30, 2011 6:20 pm

      Thank you very much! I just passed your compliment onto Reid. He’s very busy looking out of the window at a bird in a nearby tree at the moment, but I think he meant to say thank you as well. πŸ˜‰

      Cat reminders, that’s nice. I like to take cat breaks as well, although mine is sometimes right there. Very right there.

      Oh yes, I’ve seen pictures of Zelda and Mrs. Parker on your blog. Beautiful ladies!


  7. June 7, 2011 7:34 pm

    I have my kitty Lelo, queen of the house and everything else!


    • June 7, 2011 9:26 pm

      Thank you for commenting! Yes, they seem to be king and queens, don’t they? πŸ™‚



  1. Webly Wednesday: Cats and writers … and towels « Howalt: A Writer's Blog

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