Cocker spaniel puppySo it is clear that I have to make a sad admission. I can’t be a real writer at all as I chose to have a dog as a pet. Ignoring all the best advice and forgetting the history of association with cats and writers, I went headlong into my pet project and Yalla the exuberant cocker spaniel puppy entered my life last summer.

Now there was of course the initial
‘honeymoon’ period in our relationship and an ‘all is forgiven’ period that followed as little Yalla was clearly trying his very best to fit in with my quiet and concentrated writer lifestyle. I even happily pleaded forgiveness for him when he munched away happily on a book I had just received from a writer friend. The cover was beyond saving, but luckily his taste in words kept him from eating the text.

Then came the spate of events in autumn and early winter that started to give me reason to understand why cats have been the pet of choice for writers over the eons.

Event One: Cats do not habitually reduce pencils to a thousand splinters in 30 seconds.

Event Two: Cats cannot imaginatively turn 25 pages of printed proof copy into a raging snow storm in less than a minute.

Event Three: Cats do not have an ongoing and totally ingrained habit of slapping huge (often wet) paws on your keyboard 4 times a day in an unmistakable sign that a walk is an absolute imperative within the next 30 seconds. If ignored, there are dangerous consequences involving electrical cables and the power supply to my Macbook.

Event Four: Cats have rarely been known to consume your first printed proof copy of your new book. Now I know my little spaniel is clever, but I have the distinct feeling he didn’t really understand all of the 75,000 words that he consumed in one sitting. My favourite ‘proofing’ pencil was also included in this episode. Dessert I presume.

Event Five: Cats of course can usually be accommodated in the writing process. Sitting on your lap, purring away while a writer happily does his or her own purring on a keyboard. With a spaniel this is not so easy. I have now come to the conclusion that my little pup rather enjoys tapping away at a keyboard. Here is one of his last efforts at prose:

‘Gkhvjgtvrzdxycv jklj9zp887t60468wR/%IZCFUXUTXhljm ..b m.bm .. . Mmm’

So after these little episodes, do you think I want to do a swap? Not in a million years. I just couldn’t imagine writing uninterrupted ever again. My time with my new best friend is too valuable. And anyway, I needed more time to think and all this walking really helps.



I Know Why Real Writers Have Cats
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14 thoughts on “I Know Why Real Writers Have Cats

  • 26/01/2011 at 7:13 pm
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    I agree with all your events except 2 and 3. My Siberian cats have and will do these things. Of course, they are also known to be the most dog like of cats. :)

    Event 1: They will play with and hide your pencils, but not eat them.

    Event 4: Knock a glass of water onto your book given by a friend (or any book, they don't discriminate)and the pages are now wrinkled beyond help. Or knock you stack of books off…repeatedly. Push them out of the way if they are placed where they want to sit.

    Event 5: True. Although walking across your keyboard is known to happen, jumping across you and the laptop if you are in their way will happen, trying to catch the cursor on the screen – definitely, but mostly they will behave once settled by you.

    So, cats do come with their own issues. At least the Siberian variety. :)

    I had a puppy for half a day and…it just didn't work out. Glad your pup has been able to train you to HIS ways. That's very cat like. haha Pets are so much fun!

    Nice post!

  • 27/01/2011 at 4:25 am
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    I have both cats and dogs and must say that they are equally destructive. The good news: cats aren't interested in most printed material and definitely don't want to read anything I've written. Bad news? They are interested in my computer – specifically it's cords, which are apparently second only to catnip for chew toy value.

  • 27/01/2011 at 5:18 am
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    One of my three cats does eat pencils lol. She will chew one to bits in seconds. She also loves to walk on my keyboard, especially when I am shouting at her to get off. Oh and the little furry jerk is a cord chewer too. So I have to hide laptop cords when not in use. Lol!

    So cats do have many writer downfalls but like any furry friend, they are worth it.

    Good post!

  • 27/01/2011 at 8:41 am
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    I think … What I read on his blog, made a fine chronicle of his daily life of a writer and an animal, and I clap my hands for the excellent Chronicler who you are.uel-HA

  • 27/01/2011 at 9:23 am
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    Oh I laughed out loud when I read this!

    Can people who *want* cats but who are allergic to car fur be counted as real writers? >.>

  • 27/01/2011 at 12:40 pm
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    Don't be so quick to discard Yalla's attempts at writing, Isn't there a theory that it will take an infinite number of naughty puppies randomly hitting their paws on a mac keyboard an infinite amount of time to write a Derek Haines book?

  • 27/01/2011 at 12:41 pm
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    Great post! Hmmmm… thinking my life is a little boring these days with my two little ones getting a little older – After reading your post, I might consider getting a DOG to spark things up a little! Yes, I'm certifiable hehehehe

    Bellanda (@BellandaInParis)

  • 27/01/2011 at 12:46 pm
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    I have always had dogs until my last 2 died within months of one another. Now I have a cat which we adopted when weeks old? that was crying outside my door. I have learned to love this creature despite many annoying habits which include bringing little jumping guests into the house…often but mostly for batting my wife and I as we pass. I put this down to his inability to talk to tell us that he's got fed up with his food or wants us to stay and fight-he loves this- and he definitely always want's more fuss.
    jackleverett.me.uk

  • 27/01/2011 at 1:04 pm
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    My dog regularly shoves his nose under my arm, lovingly placing his prized toy or blanket on my keyboard. Too cute to resist.

  • 27/01/2011 at 9:22 pm
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    Such a cute post! My Daisy Lou(mini weiner dog), and Belle Ella (calico cat) are my writing companion and destructor of my work! Bella is somewhat more of a sad puss (pun intended). When she senses I have had enough she will hide and sulk. Daisy is relentlessly fighting the lap top for room on my lap!…I would not give one either up for anything, not even the book deals of all book deals!!! (I challenge an agent/publisher to test my statement) ;)

  • 27/01/2011 at 10:46 pm
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    Brought back fond, and sometimes, painful memories of my special pal Tweeky.

    She was a Ring Neck Parrot I had back in New Zealand. I named her Tweeky for a very simple reason. When she was in one of her few happy moments with me, she used to gently tweek my eyelashes while sitting on my head.

    Most of the time however, she was thoroughly bad tempered. She made mincemeat of all my computer cables, stole the keys from the keyboard of my desk top pc, hid the keys to my house, took great chunks out of my fingers.

    BUT I LOVED HER no matter what.

  • 28/01/2011 at 11:35 pm
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    I used to have a Cocker Spaniel just like that one. What I'd give to have him back ripping into my latest novel notes.

  • 01/02/2011 at 5:05 am
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    Great post!

    We have three cats. Dogs are sweet, but now you know why cats are my pet of choice. :)

  • 19/04/2011 at 3:38 pm
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    Be that as it may, my keyboard is still clogged with cat hair.

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