"Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave
of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat
it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
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|
Cats are surely most mysterious creatures. Perhaps they are
spirits come to earth as Verne observed.
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?