My cats, Frankie and Flynnie, are eight year old orange tabby brothers and certified editorial assistants. They love to hang out on my desk, reorganize papers, and suggest that I need a clearer work space by stretching out and “inadvertently” knocking items like pens, books, files, and my phone to the floor.
Still, I would find it difficult to write without them. It’s interesting to note that although I ghostwrote thirty nonfiction books before I met them, I only wrote Chasing Grace: A Novel of Odd Redemption and The Soul of Selling after Frankie and Flynnie adopted me.
It’s no accident that so many writers choose cats as companions. Cats are quiet, self-contained, undemanding (unless they want something), and affectionate. They have deep wisdom and the capacity to teach without words.
Just by sitting in the same room, paws tucked under, eyes at half mast, purring gently, they can transmit such messages as:
- Be patient. All treats come to cats who wait. We writers are inclined to be hard on ourselves, impatient about success, and worried if fame and fortune didn’t find us yesterday. Cats help.
- Look inward for validation and esteem. Cats rank #1 among mammals, and perhaps in all of creation, on this score. This lesson can make the difference between being a frustrated writer and a happy one.
- Be persistent. Or, as Frankie and Flynnie say, purrsistent. Frankie has learned that if he steps onto my lap when I’m working, flops on his back, stares at me, purrs loudly, and kicks my hands away from the keyboard with his hind legs, I will eventually stop that silly typing, gaze into his eyes, and stroke his furry cheeks and tummy. I have learned that I can pill cats—and that if I persist until the job is done, they will realize that resistance is futile. Persistence is a sine qua non for writers.
- Seek the Zone. This is what cats are really saying when they blink slowly from across the room. Next time your cat does this, notice that he or she was actually in the Zone when interrupted by you and is calling you to join!