Behind every great writer is a purr-fectly brilliant cat. At least, that’s what I always told myself. From the time I was just a fuzz-ball of a kitten, knocking my human’s books off the shelf so that I could paw through them, I knew I wanted to be one of those cats. You know the ones I’m talking about: the ones that belonged to Ernest Hemingway or Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Plath or Ray Bradbury. I wanted to be one of those cats who not only belonged to a writer, but the type who inspired. And gave occasional feedback by knocking the mouse off of the desktop when the writing was crap.
Okay, so the fates were against me. The human who picked my white and gray fluff out of the litter was Jenny. She was a nurse: logical through and through. But that didn’t matter. I loved her – especially cuddle time, back scratches, and reading before bed – and I loved her book collection. The medical journals and textbooks made better scratching posts than reading material, but if I tested my skills and actually made the jumps to the higher shelves (instead of occasionally biffing it… what? Cats do miss the odd jump and land face first in a wall…but always, always on our feet), I would land in glorious fiction. I was a fast learner; reading was easy. If only Jenny would let me get through more than two pages before shooing me away from my reading with chides of “bad kitty.”
I had pretty much resigned myself to this, never giving up hopes on a book left out or Kindle left unattended, for seven years. That’s when Jenny met Peter. And Peter flat out didn’t like me. I’ll spare you the unpleasant details but let me tell you – if you abuse a cat or yell at it, throw things at it, or are just flat out unpleasant toward it – the cat will reciprocate. And we can be clever, evil villains. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but I’ll never forget the way my fur rippled on my back when I heard him yell, “It’s either me or that cat. One of us has got to go.” Peter ended up in Jenny’s bed. I ended up at the shelter.
Month after month passed and I just cowered in the back of the cage. I felt so alone and so afraid. How had Jenny just given me up like that? She was my human… wasn’t I her cat? I watched as little humans came by, wanting to pet me with their sticky hands. Grown humans came by too, but since I wasn’t so friendly, they ignored me mostly. Besides, I didn’t want any of them. And they smelled funny.
Then one day, she came in. I couldn’t tell you why, except a sixth sense perhaps, why I pushed up to my paws and gingerly stuck my nose through the front of the cage. The woman leaned down and held her hand out for me to sniff. I put my paws up on the cold metal of the cage. She unhooked the latch and reached in, giving me a good scratch behind the ears. Oh, man, could she scratch!
“Don’t you want to see some of the other cats too?” the man who was with her asked.
“Nope,” she answered, her fingers wandering down to my back. She hit the sweet spot. The purr-machine turned on full blast. She giggled. “This is the one.”
I quivered with excitement and terror as she bundled me up in a cat carrier and took me home. I tentatively explored my new castle and all its new scents. I wandered into one of the upstairs bedrooms and stopped dead in my tracks. My paws kneaded the carpet in elation. Books! A room full of them! And on some of the shelves, notebooks spilling with written on pages. And a few books about writing technique… could it be true? I had found a writer? My purr-fect match?
No way. Too good to be true. Right? I moseyed over to a book that was on the floor and began to paw my way through it. My new human giggled and sat down next to me. “You like to read?” she asked, stroking my fur.
Yes. Yes I did. This started off years of cuddling in bed every night with a book. When my human got very sick, she was home every day. She couldn’t do anything but shuffle the few steps from the bedroom into the library. She’d pick up her laptop and curl into her papasan to write. Her brain was as sharp as my claws, but her body wasn’t in as good of shape. So I’d tuck in next to her and watch her write, an aptly given “Erh” when something didn’t flow. It got to the point where, even once she was better again, she wouldn’t sit down to write without me. We were the dynamic duo. A paw-sitively purr-fect match.
Well, just recently, it’s been my turn to be playing hide and seek with the guy in the dark robe. I’ve never seen my human so worried. She laid on the floor with me for 3 days after they brought me home from the hospital, holding my paw or stroking my nappy fur. I don’t think she slept, but I’m not sure. I was zonked out more than half the time. I was a miserable wreck and neither one of us was sure I’d pull through.
One day, “Ma” did the only thing she could think of to help. She sat down and printed out the draft of her novel. She read it out loud to me as she scribbled edits on the page. I even managed an “erh” or two when it really was crap. She’d let out a shaky laugh and make notes to that effect. I don’t remember if it was the same day, or the next, but she picked me up in her arms at some point and cuddled me. She kissed my forehead and told me, “You can’t die, little girl. I need you to help me finish writing that novel.”
My ears pricked up. Okay. If Ma could be scrappy and fight through her illness to get better, so could I. Besides, we had a book to write and, hello, I wasn’t a famous author yet.
I’ve scratched and kicked and clawed my way back to a semblance of health. Yeah, some days it’s like boxing a prickly pear, but I just pull out the barbs and get back at it. It’s a long road yet, but I’m not giving up. I’ve seen Ma completely forget about her writing, shove it to the back of the priority list, just so that she can take care of me. Now that’s love. I have to remind her every now and again that it’s okay to type out a page. I’m right here next to her. She can keep an eye on me and crank out a story. Or a blog post. As long as she’s writing, and I’m supervising, I’m happy. So, please forgive Ma for being absent from the blog for awhile. She’s been getting her writing buddy back into shape.