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How to Write With Cats

Updated on December 9, 2018
Jodah profile image

John is a writer and poet who also has pets, six dogs cats and two dogs in fact. Writing can be a challenge, especially with cats.

Phoebe acting as muse
Phoebe acting as muse | Source

Challenges Faced by Writers

Being a writer certainly has its challenges. Finding inspiration, time management, research, proof-reading, re-writing until you are happy with the finished product, overcoming writer's block, formatting, promoting etc. etc. are just some of the things we have to deal with or conquer to either do what we love or earn an income (or both.)

But, for writers who also own pets, especially cats, there are extra difficulties to overcome.

The Feline Psyche

I am speaking from experience here as I currently co-habit with six cats. Notice I didn't say "own." You can't own a cat. They do their own thing. But, as other cat people will attest, they love attention, and to be the centre of attention at that.

Cat's don't think anything else you do should be as important as them. This includes writing, reading, computing, any type of craft, or anything else that takes the primary focus away from them.

Let's get this straight right at the start...CATS ARE BOSS! (at least they think so, and nothing you do will convince them otherwise)

Nike and Chairman Meow (best buddies)
Nike and Chairman Meow (best buddies) | Source

My Cats

Having so many cats in one household (did I mention I have six?) is challenging. Especially if you have to go away for more than a couple of days, and the feed bill...well, we won't go into the feed bill. The term "putting the cat out," also goes to a whole new level.

"How did you get six cats?" you may well ask. Well, we originally welcomed one out of a litter of four kittens rescued from a rubbish tip where they had been dumped. That cat has since passed on but not before giving birth to one kitten herself, which we kept. That cat, Fanny, then had her own kittens of which we kept three - Phoebe, Basil, and Humphrey.

Since then, we have acquired two more cats, Nike and Chairman Meow. Nike turned up on our doorstep as a tiny kitten soaking wet during a storm, and Chairman Meow was left behind when our neighbors moved out, and subsequently adopted us.

So, now at time of writing, we have Fanny, Phoebe, Basil, Humphrey, Nike and Chairman Meow.

OK, back to the subject of writing.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
HumphreyNike as a tiny kittenBasil, Fanny, and Phoebe
Humphrey
Humphrey | Source
Nike as a tiny kitten
Nike as a tiny kitten | Source
Basil, Fanny, and Phoebe
Basil, Fanny, and Phoebe | Source

The Cat on the Keyboard

Most people have a mouse attached to their keyboard, well I am different, I have a cat.

It is rare that I don't have at least one cat on my desk as I write (unless I purposely lock them all outside.) The three most frequent culprits are Phoebe, Humphrey, and Chairman Meow, but they all take a turn at some stage.

At the moment, I am trying to restrict it to one cat inside the house at a time. This alleviates fights as to who will take pride of place in front of my computer and help me write. Don't get me wrong, I love cats. They are loving and fun. But, that doesn't mean they can't also get annoying.

Trying to keep them off the keyboard - but still having to constantly clean cat hair off it anyway - is something I don't enjoy. Yes, I could shut my office door, but it isn't that big and I suffer from claustrophobia. So, that's out.

Truth be told, I think they actually sometimes inspire me - like with this article.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
PhoebeLove is ...Computer Cat
Phoebe
Phoebe | Source
Love is ...
Love is ... | Source
Computer Cat
Computer Cat | Source

If You Can't Beat Them ...

My point here is: if you have cats you just have to work with them, or around them. You put a cat off the desk a dozen times and it just keeps jumping right back up. Cats don't take hints well.

So, if you can't beat them ... write about them. Hence this article. It was easier to write this as a rough draft in a notebook while Phoebe guarded the computer against overuse, and then type it in later while she was otherwise occupied or asleep. I may have to reach over her to type but at least my hands are free and I don't have to keep petting her.

Chairman Meow is more difficult. He is a big, as in "huge," black cat. He has difficulty fitting on the desk in front of the computer, so he either lies half on me or the keyboard. I have to move the laptop to the back of the desk and reach at arms length if I want to type. We Christened him with that name because every time you speak to him or pet him he meows Loudly.

Chairman Meow
Chairman Meow | Source

Chairman Meow, the Poem

I have a cat

Called Chairman Meow.

Make him obey?

I don't know how.


He's big and black

Just like a crow.

"I beg you Meow,

Please cease to grow!"


He sits atop my office desk

Any hour of day or night,

Sprawled across the keyboard,

Which makes it hard to write.


If I ask him nicely,

"I'd like you please to move,"

He just stares up at me and grins,

"Hey, but I'm your muse."

Conclusion

Well, I have shared my in-depth knowledge and experience of felines with you, and now you know all the answers when it comes to dealing with cats as a writer.

Actually, I've come to the obvious conclusion. There are NO RULES when writing with cats. They are the BOSS! You just need to adapt.

© 2018 John Hansen

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    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      5 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha, Lawrence. That is so true. They make the rules. Thanks for reading.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      5 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      John

      Aas the proud slave of two felines (and owner of one Dog) I can truthfully say that cats have no problem with hints, it's us Humans who don't get the hints!

      Loved this hub.

      Lawrence

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha Mel, I got a smile out of that comment. Glad to see the poet in you coming to the fore lol. Meow!!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      6 weeks ago from San Diego California

      John Lennon warned us on the White Album that:

      If you post Internet pictures of Chairman Meow

      You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow

      Or something like that.

      The cats who keep you for a pet make for entertaining reading. Now that you let the cat out of the bag we see more of this secret feline side of you. Great stuff!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      8 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

      Hello Genna, glad you can relate. I think all cat lovers know what it is like trying to wire with cats. Thank you for reading,

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      The title to this drew me in right away. My cat, Callie, is sitting on my lap as I read this, "Now pay attention," I tell her. Paws on the keyboard, vying for attention almost every time I sit down to write... the list goes on. And you have six of them! God bless. Your poem is sweet and clever. Thanks so much for this delightful hub, John, And best wishes for a very happy Christmas. :-)

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Alyssa. It is challenging getting work done with cats helping. We all seen to adopt different things as our children even plants I guess. I have named a rose bush and a couple of trees. Sassy sounds like a nice cat.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      2 months ago from Ohio

      This is a fun article and I love the name, 'Chairman Meow.' I imagine it's quite difficult to get anything done with your cats "helping," or rather calling the shots. haha! We don't have any pets, just a variety of plants. (I consider them my children, though, and they each have names.) But, my husband's grandpa has a gorgeous cat, Sassy. She is my lady love and spirit animal. Every time we visit, I am preoccupied, giving her all my attention and bribing her with catnip to take yoga photos with me.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Right, Jodah....that's my excuse too. We should stick to our story!! LOL

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Paula. Bruce, Brandy and Beemer....seems to "B" a theme here. I am so pleased that you enjoyed this and can relate being a parent of fur babies yourself. It is impossible to get upset with them even though they make writing difficult, and we manage to work around it. After all they are just trying to show you they love being around you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Jodah....This is positively delightful! I smiled throughout. As a Mom of 3 feline fur babies, wow, can I relate! No matter where they happen to be or what they're doing, all I need to do is sit at my desk....and count back from 5!! Here they come!

      Bruce plops himself right down on the desk between me and my screen, gets cozy and gives a look that says, "aren't you happy to see me, Mom?" Brandy jumps up onto the back of my upholstered office chair and stretches out from one end to the other, while Beemer (my little lover boy cuddle-bug) curls up on Mom's lap!

      There's no fighting it. I'm getting fairly good at working around, over and under them!! LOL

      I loved reading this Jodah! Peace, Paula

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha, Marsha. I see you certainly can relate. It would be a little creepy having a cat peek at you from behind the monitor. They know the things that take a lot our attention (like writing) so try to make us transfer the attention to them.

    • Marsha Blevins-Author profile image

      Marsha Blevins 

      2 months ago from WV

      Oh, John--I feel your pain (and joy). I've acquired a considerable pride of cats myself and writing is their least favorite activity for me to engage in with or without their help. My first kitty, Raphael, likes to climb behind the monitor of my desktop and then peek around the edge of the screen at me. It's a little creepy actually.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      I do understand! We feed and fix whomever comes to the door (cat-wise!)

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Wow, seven kitties, you even outdo me. So far none of ours have health problems, touch wood. I think the oldest is nine. Yes, one of mine can do things to the computer that I have no idea how to do lol.

      All are fixed up now luckily so no more kittens, but we do attract strays and can’t turn them away unfortunately.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      Loved this —your photos, thoughts and poem. I have 7 mostly indoor cats. Two are quite old and some have disabilities, including one who is deaf/low vision and another who is a cancer survivor (sadly, we learned last week that his cancer has returned). I can always count on one of the 7 to be my editor or creative consultant. I do have to watch out for the deaf/low vision cat who is an IT expert. If I don’t shut the laptop screen, he steps or lays on it when I get up from my desk. Somehow he repeatedly flips my screen orientation from horizontal to vertical using an unknown series of keystrokes. So bizzare!

      Your cats are gorgeous and obviously talented. Is everyone fixed now so you won’t have more kittens?

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Rinita. Thank you for reading. A number of our relatives are allergic to cat or dog hair so visits are usually few and far between and short, unfortunately. I have always had cats and dogs, and fish at one stage.

      Yes, I do love them all. As for the names. Nike got his because he has a black patch shaped like the "Nike" tick logo on his nose. Chairman Meow because he always meows for attention. The older cats mainly just because we liked those old-fashioned names at the time. Basil could also be because we like the herb and use it a lot or from the TV hand puppet Basil Brush the fox. Haha, I am trying to think of an interesting reason.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 months ago

      Haha.. enjoyed this humorous take on writing with cats. It is quite evident from the article (and the well written poem) that no matter how annoying they are while writing, you do really love them. I never had a pet as my husband is allergic to all kinds of animal dander. I did have fish in a tank, but of course, that's not the same as living with felines. Oh, and I love the creativity behind the names. Does the name 'Basil' have a story behind it, too? I kind of liked that name the best.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Dana, thanks for reading. It is the cuteness factor that gets us every time. Cats know how to rap us around their fingers...or should I say paws?

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for reading, Harleybaby. Yes, cats do whatever they like. We just have to get used to it if we wish to live with them.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Shannon, I hope your homework assignment adorned with cat prints was successful. I too relate to cats being particularly attracted to the keyboard and often finding m curser frozen or some other problemthat was difficult to problem that was difficult to figure out. Cats certainly make life interesting.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      2 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I had a cat who would come where I was and just fall out on his back demanding to be rubbed on his stomach. It didn't matter what I was doing or how tired I was he just demanded what he wanted and of course, he was so cute I gave in every time.

    • profile image

      Harleybaby 

      2 months ago

      I have two cats and my one cat Harley when he wants attention he wants it he does the headbutting no matter what I am doing and its on his terms if I am sleeping at 1am here he comes so writing, reading, sleeping he does not care

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      2 months ago from Texas

      I totally understand this article. I had six cats growing up that all lived in doors. I remember turning in a homework assignment that was on a poster board with cat prints on it because, of course, I was busy working and they had to walk or lay on it. I've also had that many or more cats at various times as an adult. Some of them disappeared in the woods because they did not always stay inside. There were also ferrel cats that came and went. Now we only have two cats, but they still like to be in the way. One in particular loves to walk across the keyboard rather than around the laptop. She makes a point of stepping on it, I swear. Even when it's easier and more direct to go around she gets between me and the screen. She's managed to delete the browser shortcut from the desktop screen. I can't figure out how to put it back. But we wouldn't want it any other way!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Yep Shauna, the headbuts show they really love you. I can’t imagine life without them. Cats rule.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      As a cat lover and human who lives with five (three indoor and 2 outdoor) cats, I got a kick out of this, John. Cats are either very demanding or completely aloof. They're usually demanding when you're trying to do something that requires attention and/or both hands. I get the head butts when I'm trying to write. And if you're actually writing with a pen, those head butts result in unintelligible words.

      But what would a home be without cats? I don't ever plan on finding out.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Glad this gave you a smile to begin your day Kim. Thanks so much my friend. Glad you could relate.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 

      2 months ago from North Carolina

      Dear John,

      I feel your feline frustrations, and smile at your kitty conclusion. I, too am a pet lover and have learned, especially when dealing with cats, there is no such thing as “ownership.” Thanks for starting my day off with a smile. Enjoyed the read and a-muse-ing share.

      Blessings Always,

      Kim

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi PoetikalyAnointed. Thanks for reading and enjoying this. I am glad you could relate, and yes, all my cats have unique personalities too.

    • PoetikalyAnointed profile image

      PoetikalyAnointed 

      2 months ago from US

      Aww, this was adorable! I grew up with cats so I can definitely relate to this on so many levels lol. I love the names too.

      Thanks for sharing your precious cats with us.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      It is interesting to say the least Liz. You learn to adapt like with most things. Thanks for reading.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      You don’t know what you are missing out on manatita, remember the Egyptians worshipped cats so they are very spiritual :) thanks for reading.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hey, thanks MsDora. Cats certainly make life interesting. I think I would get bored really quickly if I didn’t have pets.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Elijah, once cats are allowed in the house it doesn’t take long for them to take over and put you in your place :) Barn cats have been trained from birth to know their job like working dogs. Thanks for reading.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Clive, they love geckos. I was forever trying to save them at our old place.Don’t seem to have any here. I have two dogs as well but they are happy to lay at my feet so they are easy. Hmm a fake lap and fake computer...nah wouldn’t work. Cat’s can smell a fake anywhere.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha Linda, that’s right, blame the Egyptians. The male cats seem to have a fascination with the printer and want to sit on top of it hence I find the buttons always turned off or hair in the paper.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Lorelei, sorry you workmate is no longer with you she would be greatly missed I am sure. I don’t know what it’s like not to have at least one cat around.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Ann, if I really want to write cat-free the only way is to move my computer to the dining room table because they know they are not allowed on it. It shows they can be trained to a certain extent I guess. So glad this article gave you a smile.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Hello Verlie. Thanks for reading and glad you can relate and enjoyed the photos also.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 months ago from UK

      And I thought I had distractions trying to work from home! You give a great insight into a writer's life with cats around.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 months ago from london

      Well, I won't keep one, Bro. Nothing personal, but too time-consuming. I have too much to do as it is. Still, I admire you. Six! Awesome! Lots of food, no. Slows one down, I imagine.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 months ago from The Caribbean

      I like cats. I like your attitude towards them, and they way they affect you as a writer. If you can't beat them, just get out of their way so they don't beat you.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      2 months ago from Washington DC

      John, since I haven't owned a pet in this lifetime, a dog when I did, since my dad left my mother in 1949 before another dog made me as their pet for the year 1997-'98, I can't begin to comprehend owning a 'house' cat. I worked on a dairy farm that had 'barn' cats but I wasn't a writer then nor did they bother me doing my work. With that being my cat facts, I can't begin to identify with your situation but enjoyed reading it.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      2 months ago from Jamaica

      laughing at you. Us dog owners don't have that issue. But I did have cat and she died. She used to catch house geckos for her dinner. RIP Tiger.

      Solution:

      Get a fake lap and put it infront a fake computer.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      John, I have only one cat now and he truly cannot be bothered with my desk (there's nothing to knock off of it, so where's the fun in that?). However, our other little girl, Kyla, loved to "help me" and was fascinated by the printer. You just never know when a sheet of paper might pop out.

      Our kitty(s) have always been strictly indoors. I fear that if a raccoon didn't get them, a coyote would.

      I love your poem, and that you are a cat-guy. Remember, someone once said "The Egyptians worshiped cats as gods, and cats have never let us forget that."

    • Ladymermaid profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      2 months ago from Canada

      I so know how it is to work with cats and I love it too (or used to as my old girl passed away a few years ago). She considered it her job to help me out with the computer work. She would race for the mousepad to park her tush and that was her reserved spot. They are certainly a helpful addition to the desk. I sure miss my workmate.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 months ago from SW England

      A cat certainly is the boss! I've had a couple and each time I wanted to read a book or a paper, the cat would come between that and me no matter what. As you say, they want to be centre stage and there's nothing you can do about it.

      Thanks for this whimsical article; it made me smile - just what I need today!

      Ann

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Yes, Bill, I have had that happen too...walking on the keyboard and losing saved work. Thanks for reading.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      2 months ago from Canada

      John, I love this! Your photographs are wonderful. There is so much frantic feline energy on this page. A cat on the lap (top) is a reality I am familiar with, you've captured it perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I literally have to lock her out of my writing room....Josie will come in, hop on my lap,and demand attention otherwise...and the worst she will do is walk on the laptop before I can save my material. lol

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha, Eric, cats girls and dogs boys. I don't have a solution to stop your son sleeping on your keyboard though. Good luck.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I figure I was in kindergarten when I realized that cats were not the girls and dogs weren't the boys. Maybe around the same time as Santa and Easter bunny. We do not have cats that reside in our home. We have three feral cats that need scratching and petting.

      A good story about the cat and the keyboard -- Now if I could just get my son to stop sleeping on mine.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Li-Jen, I am pleased that you enjoyed my behind the scenes look at my writing environment...cats and all.

    • Li-Jen Hew profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 

      2 months ago

      Hi Jodah. It's great that you wrote this article about your cats because it is a reminder about the writer's environment and not just the inspiration for the poem. I like the name Chairman Meow and it's sweet of you to write about your cat. It's the behind the scenes that makes it more enjoyable too.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I am so glad I made you smile this Sunday, Sean :) Yes, I am sure Monty Python could have developed a scene around this for sure. So many bosses to try to please .. what a catastrophe.Take care.

    • Sean Dragon profile image

      Ioannis Arvanitis 

      2 months ago from Greece, Almyros

      Hilarious! John, I think you and your six bosses could be a beautiful scene from a Monty Python's episode. Haha! I loved it! And is another evidence of your great and golden Heart. Thank you for making my Sunday.

      May the cats be with you!

      Sean

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha, yes Hari, that is a major problem. the cuteness factor.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 

      2 months ago from Bangalore

      Cute article. The troubles from cats have cuteness too.

      - hari

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