Monday, March 18, 2013

Tap Into Your Creativity—Let Your Cat Help

The love between writers and cats is storied. The likes of T.S. Eliot, Edward Gorey, Ernest Hemingway and others have written poems, stories and snippets about the special connection. What is this special thing? It's mystical, playful, a form of connection that, under the right circumstances, can translate somehow into a flow of creative expression on the page.

If you are a cat lover (and I know not all writers are, although I find that fact to be astounding!), then you know what I'm talking about.

While reading one of my favorite websites (, I came across a charming description of this mysterious process. Brainpickings writer, Maria Popova, in her article, How a Cat Boosts Your Creativity, offered this passage from a book by Muriel Sparks:

“… the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you.”
History is laced with cat-loving creators, fromHemingway’s profound affection for his felines toEdison’s pre-YouTube boxing cats to the traditions of Indian folk art. But hardly anyone has made a greater case for the cat as a creative stimulant and a mystical muse of writing than Muriel Spark in this wonderful passage from A Far Cry from Kensington (public library):
If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. The light from a desk lamp … gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.

I've gone back and forth between writing on my laptop and writing longhand at my desk. I like both, but find computer-writing a less creative process. Reading this snippet from Muriel Spark gave me all sorts of visualizations of the times my cats "assisted" me at my desk by lying down in front of me with at least a hind paw or the tip of a  tail touching my writing paper, while they snoozed or otherwise demonstrated their extreme nonchalance. (Writing at the computer with a 12-pound cat taking up my whole lap and wanting to put her paws on the keyboard all the time was a bit more challenging.)

As some of you know, I am sadly catless at the moment. Our kitties lived long, good lives, (to 19 and 21), and they are sorely missed. I've enjoyed being able to travel without worrying about them, though. And not having to clean the catbox has been a treat. But it might be time for a cat in my life again. Just the idea of one snoozing under my desklamp while I write is enough to make me smile.

How about you? Do you like having a cat with you when you write? Do you tap into the mysterious and powerful cat-muse energies? Have you found this type of energy from other pets?


  1. Sorry about your cat. I'm a cat lover too but my husband is allergic to them so found mine a new home years ago. It's interesting thinking how cats could help with writing.

    1. Thanks, Natalie. I miss them a lot :-( And so sorry to hear your husband's allergic. Seems like many people are these days.

  2. Oh Linda... It would be so wonderful for you to get another kitty! The girls had many growing up and they were so sweet. Yes ...liter box I can do without. But the thought of the warm and love of cat while while writing is a vision.

    Plus... cats prove to keep people healthier too!!!

    I vote yes!

    1. I'm thinking about it, Karlene. :)
      Do you miss having the kitties around your house?

  3. Your kitty was such a sweet one! I think she'd want you to invite another into your home eventually. And how exciting that it may be time! I love this post, it makes perfect sense to me. Cats lend us their serenity, that's kind of an epiphany for me.