Dogs may be a man’s best friend, but when it comes to writers this task seems to fall to cats. Maybe it’s the brooding, introspective nature of the animals, or the fact that, much like many writers, naps rank pretty high on their list of daily priorities. It’s safe to say that writers and cats go together like PB&J, and here’s a few of the more famous authors who loved their furry, four-legged companions.
1. Mark Twain
Mark Twain wasn’t only a man of words, he was also a great lover of cats. According to Twain: “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction," (sorry dog lovers). In fact, Twain had a large black cat named Bambino who was so beloved that Twain took out an ad in the New York American and offered a reward after his cat buddy went missing! Not to fear, the intrepid Bambino returned some days later on his own, much to the relief of the rather distressed Mark Twain.
Ernest Hemingway loved cats for their emotional honesty – something he didn’t think most human beings possessed. According to legend, Hemingway’s close bond with cats began when a ship captain gifted him a six-toed cat. Sailors supposedly favoured polydactyl cats because their six toes allowed them more dexterity when aboard a ship. Hemingway named his new six-toed friend Snowball and loved him so much that when he moved to Key West he took Snowball along. Snowball was allowed to run wild and populate the grounds with his offspring of polydactyl cats. To this day, Snowball’s descendants still roam the house, and polydactyl cats are often referred to as ‘Hemingway’s Cats’.
3. Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury enjoyed equating cat ownership with the creative process. According to Bradbury, ideas, like cats, would “come silently in the hour of trying to wake up and remember my name,” and aspiring writers should "treat ideas like cats: make them follow you." Bradbury’s wife, Maggie, shared his love for these feline friends, and at one point around 22 cats claimed the Bradbury residence as their kitty home!
It’s not at all far-fetched to think that the master horror writing liked the smooth, mysterious, and sometimes creepy nature of cats. Edgar Allan Poe was rumoured to love cats, but he had a favourite—funnily enough, she wasn’t a black cat, but a tortoiseshell named Catterina. This feline lady would hang out on Poe’s shoulder and watch him write, and when she wasn’t busy inspiring the writer she’d sleep on his wife’s chest and keep her warm.
Charles Dickens is considered one of the most influential writers in history, and cats were definitely an integral part of his writing process and daily life. Dickens once said, “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” He gave his cats free reign of his house and the furry ones were notorious for extinguishing his writing candle when they were looking for attention. Dickens was so distraught when his beloved cat, Bob, died, that he had his paw stuffed and mounted on an ivory letter opener as a constant reminder of his old feline friend.
Which writers are you surprised to discover were cat lovers?