Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cats and Dogs: Quiet Companions for Writers

I've been thinking about writers and their pets recently. I've heard that, because writing is such solitary work, many writers like the quiet companionship of a dog or cat.

One of the first writer/dog relationships that came to mind was John Steinbeck and his dog Charley. In his book, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, Steinbeck recounted tales of a 1960 road trip he made with Charley, a French standard poodle, as they traveled in a specially-made camper around the United States.

Maureen Adams wrote a book about authors and their dogs. In her book, Shaggy Muses, she looks at the lives of five women and their dogs, including Virgina Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton, and Emily Bronte.

For fun, take a look at the links below to view several photos of authors and their dogs. The New York Social Diary link contains photos taken by Jill Krementz showing writers such as Amy Tan, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, and other authors with their dogs. The second link is a photo of William Faulkner and his dogs.

Cats also have established their place as companions to authors. 

The site Writers and Kitties displays page after page of photographs of writers and their cats, such as these photos of Aldous Huxley and William Carlos Williams. Be sure to check out this wonderful site.

Like authors' dogs, the cats of some writers have also found their way into their owner’s work. For example, the cats of T. S. Elliot and his book of light verse, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which in turn, inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats.

Here is the last verse of his poem, The Naming of Cats, which you may also remember from the musical:

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
   The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
   Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
       His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

As a cat lover, I like what Canadian novelist Robertson Davies said about cats:

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise 
creatures–and cats like authors for the same reasons.

Whether dog or cat, pets can provide a calming effect to some writers. I know I love it when my cat, Midnight, curls up next to me when I am writing. She never worries me with structure, theme, or editing questions; she simply likes to be fed, pet, and to sleep quietly somewhere near.


Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

Love this! There's a furry "muse" sleeping on my computer as we speak. It must be a warm spot!

Terry McMahon said...

As a purveyor of Songs for Cat Lovers I recollect a wonderful moment when my beloved Feline, Maestro Fiedler, hopped up on my piano bench and extended his paw in friendship and love. =^..^= Terry

Jennifer Rova said...

Clever topic. I loved it! Muses come in all forms. This was interesting and fun.