Cats The Writing Life
Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Why a Writer Needs a Cat


Cats are good at crossword puzzles, too!

I have decided that there's one VERY IMPORTANT piece of writing advice that often goes unmentioned.  It is sort of a secret writer thing, but I am dedicated to bringing such things out in the open, because I'm dedicated to helping you find success as a writer.  (You can thank me from your yacht in the Riviera, where you are celebrating your most recent bestseller.)  Here goes:

Get a cat.

Why?  I shall tell you why.

1.  Because a cat anchors a room.  There's something so grounding about walking into a room with a cat sleeping in it.  Writers need to be grounded.  We need to be in our bodies as we work.  Otherwise we'll be wafting about the room with no sense of where we are–and so will our characters.  If you don't have a cat to help you with this, try some other ways, like meditation, yoga, or Qi Gong, my current favorite.  Or take a walk.

2. Because you can talk about plot points with your cat.   One of my cats, Captain, is in training to be a human in his next life.  As such, he listens carefully to everything humans talk about and pays close attention to what we do.  This makes him the perfect writer's companion.  He listens to every word I say about my WIP.  Writers need to brainstorm.  Maybe you don't, but I do.  I do a lot of brainstorming, with my clients, other writers, my agent.  And I do a ton of it on the page, in my journal.  If you're stuck, find a cat (or human, or piece of paper) to brainstorm with.

3. Because cats are cozy, soft and warm to cuddle up next to.   And they often purr when they sleep on you.  Few things are better in this world than taking a nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a cat snoozing away on top of you.  But my larger point is: writers need rest.  Throw that old image of writers burning the midnight oil, and creating for long stretches of time without food, water or drink out the window.  That kind of schedule does not foster creativity.  More and more science is coming out to support the idea that we need a consistent amount of sleep–like eight hours a night–to perform our best.  This means you, too.  And if part of that sleep comes through curling up next to your cat for a nap, so be it.  

4. Because they will get hungry and wake you up at the crack of dawn or earlier.  Chop chop.  Rise and shine.  You've got words to get on the page!  If your cats are anything like ours, they will meow at their first sign of hunger, which will likely be early.  Very early.  My two felines have my husband well trained to rise and feed them, but I follow soon thereafter, grab coffee and hit the page.  You will make yourself very happy if you get the most important thing in your life–your writing–done first.  There's nothing better than the satisfying feeling you'll have all day if you've accomplished your most important goal first.

5.  Because a cat will keep you humble.  Cats are the original and best arrogant pets. Sometimes the afore-mentioned Captain stares at me while I'm discussing my novel with him, and then shakes his head as if I've said the stupidest thing ever.  Other times, he breaks out in a giant yawn.  I'm telling you, its humbling. And don't even get me started on the antics of his goofy brother, Lieutenant.  (For the record, they were rescues from our local Humane Society and we did not name them.) Writers need a dash of humility.  This is a topic not often discussed, but I've seen good writers ruined by their ego.  I've seen them get all puffed up and ruin book deals. I've seen them let their ego convince them a manuscript is ready when it isn't, and thus ruin a good potential contact by sending too soon.  Enough said.  Get a cat.

What's that you say?  You don't like cats? Excuse me while I cover the ears of my two tubwads.  Such shocking words coming out of your mouth.  Heavy sigh.  I suppose if you absolutely cannot see your way to get a cat, you could pay attention to the writing tips that are highlighted in bold above.  

But I still think there's nothing like a cat to keep you company throughout the day.  Unless its a pug. But that's a story for another day.

Which do you prefer–dog or cat?

0 thoughts on “Why a Writer Needs a Cat

  1. Dyoung

    Dog person here:)
    Redbone coonhound dog to be exact!
    Kitty’s make me itchy sneezy and prickly!

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    That's okay, you can use your coonhound to the same effect!  Don't tell my cats, but I love dogs, too, especially pugs.  But I'm dog-less at the moment.

  3. Zan Marie

    I love cats! My poodles do well these well, too. But someday, there will be another cat to purr me through the tough spots. 😉

  4. Charlotte Dixon

    Poodles are good, too, Zan Marie!  

  5. Daria

    I loved and enjoyed reading this blog and thought of my 3 cats as I read it. “Because they will get hungry and wake you up at the crack of dawn or earlier.” My Garfield wakes me up before the crack of dawn by licking my eyelids, there is nothing worse than a rough tongue on your eyelids at 3 in the morning. Oreo is a scratcher and scratches at the mattress until someone gets up with him which leaves Midnight. He’ll lay at the bottom of the bed until either me or my husband moves and then he’ll pounce on the one still sleeping. If one is up the other person has to be up too is his motto.

  6. Melissa

    I’ve got three cats – and you’re right. They are essential to writers. 😀 I love that no matter what room I wander into, they’ll follow me. Right now, I’m watching the youngest, LuLu, play in a beam of sunlight from the open front door.

  7. Charlotte Dixon

    I swear, there is just something about having a cat nearby that calms me, even when they are goofy.  Mind tend to follow the sun all day, too.

  8. Charlotte Dixon

    When we first got our boys, we took them to the vet and I remember him telling us how his cats woke him up at the crack of dawn to be fed.  I smugly thought that would never happen to us.  (Kind of the way one is sure their newborn will sleep through the night.)  Ha! Ha, ha, ha.  They have trained my husband to get up at anywhere from 3 to 5 to feed them.  We've tried everything–giving them food before we go to bed, tossing shoes at them, closing the bedroom door.  Nothing deters the buggers!  I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  9. Maggie

    I totally agree with all that’s said here. Fortunately we have pocket doors off the kitchen so we can sequester our two scamps for the night. Cats can teach us a lot about taking it easy, living in the moment, and not taking ourselves too seriously. And the snuggling and purring—there’s nothing like it, for them or for me. One of my cats likes to get under the covers.

    Now if I could just keep them off the keyboard …

  10. Charlotte Dixon

    Okay, maybe I'll try locking mine down the basement.  That would fix them.  Of course, then they'd be so mad at us who knows what they would do.  One of mine likes to sit on my desk and nudge at the sides of notebooks and spirals.  It's very weird–and for some reason it drives me nuts!

  11. Maggie

    LOL! You sound like me. Who’s in charge? Clearly they are!

  12. Charlotte Dixon

    Oh they are definitely in charge!  Don't tell my husband I said that, though.  He wouldn't like to admit how well trained they have him.

  13. Christi Corbett

    We have a cat, and she’s the perfect accompaniment to my writing space. She stares at me with her judgmental eyes if I’m not keeping to a writing schedule, bats at me with a paw when I’m finally keeping to a writing schedule to let me know that her food dish is empty, and right when I have a burst of wordly goodness she usually decides it’s time for her to get petted. By me. Immediately.

  14. Charlotte Dixon

    So very cat-like.  She sounds like the perfect companion.

  15. Genia

    What you said about writers needing rest…

    My cat Mollie (who’s currently living with her other mommy, my sister) would paw at my behind if I sat at the computer too long. It was like, Mom, time for bed! She would do that again and again until either she gave up and went to sleep or I shut the computer down and joined her! 🙂

    Currently kitty-less due to Dad’s allergies…

    (P.S. — see you at Scarritt-Bennett!)

  16. Renayle

    I’ve had cats and dogs in my life, and currently our cat Princess runs the house. Mine is fiercely independent one minute so I can work on my writing, and the next she sits on my keyboard, telling me to step away from the computer and come back to reality. She’s also so dang cute when she curls up next to me as I’m typing and I hear her purr. It’s pretty soothing. I’m Team Cat. 🙂

  17. Don

    OH, OH! My writing is in serious big trouble then because …………. I’M A DOG PERSON!

  18. Charlotte Dixon

    Oh yeah, my cats do that, too.  If they get bored they come meow.  Sometimes they come back upstairs after we've fed them and meow for company.  It is too funny.  I'm excited to see you at Scarritt Bennett.  And to be back in Nashville–its been too long!

  19. Charlotte Dixon

    It cracks me up when they come sit on the keyboard.  The other thing my cat Lieutenant does is sit by me when I eat breakfast.  I know, I know, its kind of gross but I can't get him to stop.  He sits and watches me eat (and do the crossword) and then he wants to snuggle up really close.  I think its because he can have my undivided attention. 

  20. Charlotte Dixon

    That's okay, Don!  As soon as I get another dog I'll write a post about why a writer needs a dog, okay?  

  21. Dyoung

    I will be waiting for that post as well!

  22. Patrick Ross

    So what do you do if you have serious allergies? (True of both me and my wife.) Alas, we likely would own one instead. My wife is a cat person; I’m more like Don, a dog person (allergy problems there as well).

    A fun post, but how could you not embed some silly cat videos? 🙂

  23. Charlotte Dixon

    It would help if I had a dog at the moment.  I miss having one so much, I'm sure I'll get one soon.

  24. Charlotte Dixon

    It is my considered opinion that the world spends enough time with silly cat videos.  (Myself included.)  I decided to take the high road and not add to world's drug of choice.  🙂

  25. Dyoung

    You can live vicariously thru me then. You can spot lots of pics of him on Instagram!

  26. Charlotte Dixon


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