I have to love that quote by Mark Twain. Cats are the most amazing creatures, and writers seem to adore them. Think about the six-toed cats that still live in Ernest Hemingway's house in Key West FL.
"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not,” according to Hemingway.
One of my favorite authors, Edgar Allen Poe, said, “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
And Jules Verne wrote, “I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.”
|"Fluffy Noir, the Feral Cat" ©Mary Montague Sikes|
Over the years I have rescued many cats. Once, as a child, I saved a litter of four adorable newborn kittens drowning in a thunderstorm. Although we never brought the cats into the house, we fed them outside for as long as I remember. Smokey became my favorite and met me each day when I came home from school for lunch. I was devastated when he was struck by a car and killed.
They all have unique personalities and can surely inspire writers. We have a feral cat that lives in our yard, and, although I feed him, he will never let me near him. Fluffy Noir is long-haired and scraggly because no one can get near enough to comb his hair. The first time I saw him was the day he showed up on our deck with a torn and bleeding chest. I felt sorry for him and opened a can of tuna fish, sure it would be his last meal. It wasn't. I couldn't let him go hungry, so I continued to feed him. He now strides about with confidence but still allows no one to come near him. Strangely, he never makes a sound. He is the first cat I've known without a meow.
Cats are the perfect creatures for writers. They give all of us a lot about which to write. They are independent and beyond domination. I think Mark Twain was right in his observation. Crossing man and cat would harm cat, not man.
I once let a cat die in a story I wrote about Jamaica and Obeah. I lost readers because of it and will never make that mistake again.
The Carl Sandburg poem about "Fog" gives a vision about the presence of cats:
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
How perfect is that?