Cats are curious, cuddly, and sometimes cantankerous. So it should come as no surprise that they have been the companion of choice for countless writers over the years.
Once described as “the most distinguished man of letters in English history”, Johnson’s devotion to felines caused a falling out with his friend and biographer James Boswell, who was a big cat hater. Needless to say, the biography was heavily edited upon submission.
The father of the limerick, Lear was so concerned with the sensitivities of his tomcat Foss that, when he changed house one time, he modelled his new abode exactly on the old one so that Foss wouldn’t feel out of place.
The first American writer to successfully earn a living through writing alone, Poe was so devoted to Catarina, his favourite cat, that when he was away he would often write to her. She went off her food at such times, out of loneliness, but when he came back her excitement knew no bounds. (She also used to sit on his shoulder as he wrote.)
The French author of Gigi and the first woman given a state funeral in France was so besotted with cats that she had up to twenty of them living with her at any one time. She also took in strays and neighbours’ cats when they were on vacation.
The author of The Big Sleep had a black Persian called Taki, whom he referred to as his secretary. The cat stayed loyally beside him when he was writing – usually sitting on his growing manuscript waiting for the next page.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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