Writers and cats have always shared a special bond. Cats, like writers, are wilful creatures, who don’t like to be controlled.
There is a long recorded history of the love writers have for their cats. In fact, there are so many writers who have adored cats that it’s difficult to ignore.
Cats are elegant, mysterious, and beautiful. They are also ruthless and selfish when they have to be. Many cats have inspired works of literature including Edgar Allan Poe’s Catterina, Cleveland Amory’s Polar Bear, and T.S. Eliot’s Jellylorum.
Canadian novelist and playwright Robertson Davies once wrote, “Authors like cats because they are such quiet, loveable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.”
Most authors are creative introverts and cats fit beautifully into an introvert’s world. As the American author, Andre Norton said, ‘Perhaps it is because cats do not live by human patterns, do not fit themselves into prescribed behaviour, that they are so united to creative people.’
They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, but these writers found solace—and occasional inspiration—in another four-legged companion.
10 Spiritual Lessons You Can Learn from Your Cat
Do we rush through life without noticing our surroundings? Do we spend enough time caring for our own basic needs and comfort? Take a page from the feline playbook to keep you purring. By mimicking the behavior of the cats that share our homes, we can develop fuller, richer spiritual lives. From the patterns of play, to the need for sleep, to finding joy in the smallest of things, cats show us how to reach inside ourselves for higher goals, a less stressful life, and a newfound ability to purr in tune with the world. Photographs of prancing, prowling, and playful cats provide the necessary inspiration to make the most of all of your nine lives. Add Joanna Sandsmark’s inspiring book to your collection.
Marlon Brando – was American legendary actor who became iconic figure in 1950s for antisocial figure was also a great writer. He had photographed with his cats several times and Vito’s cat in iconic figure in 1950s for antisocial figure.
One of most important and influential writers in history, Charles Dickens once said: “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” He would sit entranced for hours while writing, but when his furry friends needed some attention, they were notorious for extinguishing the flame on his desk candle. In 1862, he was so upset after the death of his favorite cat, Bob, that he had the feline’s paw stuffed and mounted to an ivory letter opener. He had the opener engraved saying, “C.D., In memory of Bob, 1862” so he could have a constant reminder of his old friend. The letter opener is now on display at the Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library.
Mark Twain—the great humorist and man of American letters—was also a great cat lover. ‘I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.’ Twain kept eleven cats at his farm in Connecticut. When his beloved black cat Bambino went missing, Twain took out an advertisement in the New York American offering a $5 reward to return the missing cat to his house at 21 Fifth Avenue in New York City. It decribed Bambino as “Large and intensely black; thick, velvety fur; has a faint fringe of white hair across his chest; not easy to find in ordinary light.”
The feline protagonists in Stephen King’s novels lead haunted lives. In Pet Sematary, King tells a story of loss inspired by his family’s own tragic experience with their pet cat Smucky who was hit by a car. King’s cat-filled publicity photo for the movie Cat’s Eye, based on several of the author’s short stories, proves that the author’s fascination with the macabre didn’t stop him from being a cat magnet. This famous cat-lover wrote that ‘it might be that the biggest division in the world isn’t men and women but folks who like cats and folks who like dogs.’ The Shawshank Redemption author has owned several pets over the years, including “a rather crazed Siamese cat” named Pear.
‘The cat does not offer services. The cat offers itself,” says William Burroughs, who is known for his wild, drug-induced writings, but he had a softer side as well—especially when it came to his cats. He penned an autobiographical novella, The Cat Inside, about the cats he owned throughout his life, and the final journal entry Burroughs wrote before he died referred to the pure love he had for his four pets:
“Only thing can resolve conflict is love, like I felt for Fletch and Ruski, Spooner, and Calico. Pure love. What I feel for my cats present and past. Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is. LOVE.”
Aside from peppering his high Modernist poetry with allusions to feline friends, T.S. Eliot wrote a book of light verse called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a collection of 15 poems, dedicated to his godchildren, regarding the different personalities and eccentricities of cats. Names like Old Deuteronomy, the Rum Tum Tugger, and Mr. Mistoffelees should be familiar to people all around the world—the characters and poems were the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running Broadway musical, Cats. Later publications of Old Possum’s included illustrations by noted artist Edward Gorey—yet another avid cat lover. You can listen to Eliot read “The Naming of Cats” here.
Patricia Highsmith doesn’t have the friendliest literary reputation around (she once said “my imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people”). But The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train author nevertheless found a perfect way to let her imagination function with her many four-legged companions. She did virtually everything with her cats—she wrote next to them, she ate next to them, and she even slept next to them. She kept them by her side throughout her life until her death at her home in Locarno, Switzerland in 1995.
British Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing wrote of her affection for cats many times, but she felt a particular affinity for her pet El Magnifico. “He was such a clever cat,” she remarked to the Wall Street Journal in 2008. “We used to have sessions when we tried to be on each other’s level. He knew we were trying. When push came to shove, though, the communication was pretty limited.”
Ernest Hemingway and his family initially became infatuated with cats while living at Finca Vigía, their house in Cuba. During the writer’s travels, he was gifted a six-toed (or polydactyl) cat he named Snowball. Hemingway liked the little guy so much that in 1931, when he moved into his now-famous Key West home, he let Snowball run wild, creating a small colony of felines that populated the grounds. Today, some 40 to 50 six-toed descendants of Snowball are still allowed to roam around the house. Polydactyl felines are sometimes called “Hemingway Cats.”
Known to be a general cat lover during his life, this 18th century jack-of-all-trades was immortalized in James Boswell’s proto-biography The Life of Samuel Johnson. In the text, Boswell writes of Johnson’s cat, Hodge, saying, “I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge.” Although Boswell was not a fan, Johnson called Hodge “A very fine cat indeed.” Hodge is immortalized, with his oysters, with a statue of his likeness that stands outside Johnson’s house at 17 Gough Square in London.
The Osaragi Jirō Memorial Museum in Yokohama, Japan is dedicated to the author Jirō Osaragi and features numerous cat ornaments as an integral part of its feline-themed decor. Osaragi wrote several novels connected to Yokohama, including Gento (Magic Lantern) and lived at the Hotel New Grand for over 10 years (in room 318). It’s often said that the Shōwa-period author cared for over 500 cats throughout his lifetime at his home in Kamakura, Japan—which is sometimes open to the public. Visitors can lounge on Osaragi’s terrace and sip tea while picturing the hundreds of semi-feral cats that once frolicked in the gardens.
Though not overt, William Yeats’s love for cats can be found in poems like “The Cat and the Moon,” where he uses the image of a cat to represent himself and the image of the moon to represent his muse Maude Gonne, a high society-born feminist and sometime actress who inspired the poet throughout his life. The poem references Gonne’s cat named Minnaloushe, who sits and stares at the changing moon. Yeats metaphorically transforms himself into the cat longing for his love that is indifferent to him, and the heartsick feline poet wonders whether Gonne will ever change her mind. Too bad for Yeats; Maude Gonne never agreed to marry him, despite the fact that he asked for her hand in marriage—four separate times.
Ray Bradbury compared parts of the writer’s creative process to cat ownership, saying that ideas, like cats, “come silently in the hour of trying to wake up and remember my name.” His advice for writers? “Treat ideas like cats … make them follow you.” In his short story, The Cat’s Pajamas, two cat lovers fight over who will keep a stray cat they find in the middle of a California highway.
Raymond Chandler had an immense influence on detective fiction and came to define the tenets of hard-boiled noir. He used femme fatales, twisting plots, and whip-cracking wordplay in his evocative classics starring the detective Philip Marlowe, including The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. But it wasn’t all serious business for Chandler because—you guessed it—he really loved cats. His cat Taki gave him endless enjoyment, but also occasionally got on his nerves. Here’s a passage from a letter Chandler wrote to a friend about Taki:
“Our cat is growing positively tyrannical. If she finds herself alone anywhere she emits blood curdling yells until somebody comes running. She sleeps on a table in the service porch and now demands to be lifted up and down from it. She gets warm milk about eight o’clock at night and starts yelling for it about 7.30.”