Cats and Their Writers

“The Cat in a Ruff”

Often when I am in despair – a frequent state these days – I turn to Simon’s cat. Actually to the pitch-perfect videos of the way Simon’s cat and attendant kitten maintain ultimate control over Simon, the house, and all surroundings. Favorites are the dirt tracked in just after Simon has cleaned and the mayhem when he’s sick in bed.

This blog post offered much more of substance, demonstrating  that cats have over the years become support, muse, inspiration for writers. Some are familiar — Poe, Twain, Eliot.

The impetus for this post came from “The Cat in a Ruff,” which my friend Christy Billings bought at the Mark Twain House. Here’s my favorite Twain/cat story. He posted a sign after a theft of silverware, presumably sterling.

To the Next Burglar: There is nothing but plated ware in this house now and henceforth. You will find it in that brass thing in the dining-room over in the corner by the basket of kittens. If you want the basket put the kittens in the brass thing. Do not make a noise, it disturbs the family…

Cats were so much a part of Papa H’s brand that I met the some of the descendants of the clowder at Hemingway House in Cuba in the 1980s.

Other cat lovers were a surprise, mostly because I don’t know much about the authors. The drawing of Edward Lear’s makes him look like a jolly ancestor Simon’s cat. Every cat owner will appreciate Lost Cat.

Ann Petry should be on that list. She had cats from the time she was a little kid and wrote a book for children, The Drugstore Cat, about a kitten who has trouble controlling his temper.  Some publisher needs to reissue this book.

Later feline residents were Mehitabel (named after the cat in Archy and Mehitabel) and Tobermory, Toby for short, named for the talking cat in the Saki story. Later my cat Leo took up brief residence when I was transitioning from one apartment to another. He gained four pounds — a quarter of his body weight under Mother’s TLC.

William Burroughs, Edward Gorey, Sylvia Plath, and Truman Capote should join to the legions of cat loving writers. May their cohort increase.

And even though he didn’t belong to one particular scribe, Firbank inspired many writers and readers as he presided over the Book Trader  when it thrived at Fourth and South in Philadelphia before the area became Gap-i-fied.

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