Gorey had it about right; ““Books. Cats. Life is good.”
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
“What a luxury a cat is, the moments of shocking and startling pleasure in a day, the feel of the beast, the soft sleekness under your palm, the warmth when you wake on a cold night, the grace and charm even in a quite ordinary workaday puss. Cat walks across your room, and in that lonely stalk you see leopard or even panther, or it turns its head to acknowledge you and the yellow blaze of those eyes tells you what an exotic visitor you have here, in this household friend, the cat who purrs as you stroke, or rub his chin, or scratch his head.”
– Doris Lessing, The Old Age of El Magnifico
I’m not here to debate the merits of the cats vs. dogs argument. It’s gone on for (undoubtedly) a millennia…and it will go on in perpetuity I’m sure. I’ve been both a dog owner and a cat lover (and from that choice of words, you can probably see where my loyalties lie), and I’ve met individuals of both species who’ve carved out “forever” places in my heart.
Cats are certainly “winning” at the moment – what with the cat videos and their own personal internet cat film festival – and the accolades are not unearned. As Doris Lessing explains above, to have a cat in your life is to invite wildness into your home and capriciousness into your heart – they serve, with their indifferent expressions and cyclical moods, as a conduit to the exotic, the untamed, the unbowed-unbroken spirit.
Ahhh, but there I go, waxing poetical about cats and fulfilling every stereotype of the crazy-cat-lady blogger. At least I’m in pretty good company. I just happened upon a great post by Summer Anne Burton over at Buzzfeed that lists 30 artist and writers who were inspired by their feline companions. We’re talking about folks like Hemingway, Colette, Bukowski. Kerouac. Philip K. Dick. Patricia Highsmith.
Basically, if you compiled a reading list based on these cat-loving writers, you’d hit a triple-crown of Nobel Prize winners, genre-visionaries, and writers universally acknowledged as the “greatest of their generation.”
Here’s a sample of their cat-musings (though Burton’s whole article is well worth the read):
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” – Jean Cocteau
“Holding up my
purring cat to the moon
I sighed.” – Jack Kerouac, American Haiku, 1959
“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” – Ernest Hemingway
“There are no ordinary cats.” – Colette
“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.” –Mark Twain
So if you’re feeling a little testy, slightly lackadaisical or just a tad uninspired, seek out a fickle, feline muse. Heck, even petting an assuming dog will probably do the trick. The bottom line is that, just like yesterday’s post about seeing the world through a child’s eyes, connecting with another creature and taking a moment to live in their skin can open you up to all sorts of insight and motivation.
If nothing else, you could end up like Joyce Carol Oates, who kept on writing so as not to disturb the purring cat nestled comfortably – and proprietarily – in her lap!
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