So, the Guardian recently had a wonderful article about why writers seem to universally love cats, written by an author with, as he puts it, ‘the inevitable two cats’.
The points he brings up are all very interesting, of course, but for me, the answer is clear. Writing is lonely. It doesn’t matter if you do it in a crowded room (a practise that I find very helpful), you’re still essentially shutting out everyone around you. You might see them, you’ll most definitely hear them, but they may as well be in Tanganyika for all the social interaction you’ll have with them.
However, if you write in a room with a cat, it’s different. I’ve only had the privilege to be subjected to a feline overlord for two months, give or take, but Gimpy has already decided that one of the best places to take a nap is next to me, when I’m typing away on my laptop in an empty room. It’s even better if I’m thus positioned that he can sit between me and a radiator, getting stereo warmth.
Cats do not need good conversation. Cats do not need you to listen to what they say. Cats do not need you to pay attention to them for the sake of paying attention to them. When I sit on my lovely double bed, a few inches away from the radiator, with the cat warming his footpads and back at the same time, I know that he’s enjoying my company. And I’m enjoying his–purring is a wonderfully soothing noise, and it really helps to calm me down when I’m getting frustrated over a plot problem, or a characterisation issue.
Also, cats make sure that you don’t spend too long cooped up in an empty room, hunched over your keyboard. A cat’s dinner waits for no man, and no book, either.