It’s been six weeks since our cat died. I’m surprised at how much I miss him. He lost his battle with feline leukemia after a three-year fight. I still find myself expecting to see him in his regular spots around the house, and when he’s not there, my day is a little emptier.
The first time I saw Mister it was two days after the storms from Hurricane Ike barreled through Oklahoma and a bedraggled wet cat stood sentry on my front porch. He snuggled in my lap like he’d known me for years and wiggled his way straight into my heart. He even won over Keeper Hubby, who has never cared for animals, though I forced stray upon stray on him. That’s one of myriad reasons why he’s a Keeper.
The mystery of this beautiful Balinese cat’s origins deepened when the vet discovered a microchip from an animal shelter in Alaska, with no info on the chip. How did he get to Oklahoma? Such a mysterious cat needed a cool name, so he became Mister Kit T. Smith, a.k.a. Mister. He was already ill, but we might have needed him as much as he needed us. He taught us a lot about unconditional love.
I think writers are a lot like cats, or maybe it’s just this writer. How, you ask?
1) Cats and writers are always plotting.
Ever seen a cat, eyes half-closed, relaxing on a windowsill? Think he’s just chilling without a care in the world? Nope, he’s plotting. Plotting how to escape the house and feel the wind blowing through his fur, plotting what cute tricks he can do to snag some treats from his unsuspecting human, plotting his takeover of the known mouse world.
Writers are always plotting. Ask one of our loved ones. They see the blank stare, the bobbing head agreeing with the conversation we pay no attention to, the extra long showers we take so we can be alone with our characters and kingdoms.
2) Cats and writers constantly observe.
Cats can’t see well close-up, but can detect movement from yards away and their peripheral vision is excellent. They scan their territory for anything of interest.
Writers seem to have built-in radar for the details of life. From landscape to news reports, from people’s personality quirks to their unusual habits, we take our observations of the scents, feelings, sights and sounds of life and populate our stories with them.
3) Cats and writers (secretly or not) enjoy going against the flow.
Cats are known for their proud independence. They have no need to please and obey, but expect their humans to bend to their whims. Cats love being cats. I doubt they ever wish they were dogs.
Writers write against the odds they will ever be published or financially secure. They hang on to their stubborn determination that someone will find the words they write entertaining, provocative, intelligent, or humorous. They are dedicated to the craft despite the obstacles of day jobs, indifferent loved ones, ego-deflating critiques or self-doubt. Writers continue to be writers with a bit of rebellious tenacity mixed with a smidge of orneriness because they can’t see themselves being anything but writers.
Writers are a breed apart. Like cats.
I think I’ll keep writing.