Emulate a House Cat

My cat on my desk chair

My cat on my desk chair

I read a quote recently that resonated with me. It said that if you wanted to be a successful writer, you needed to act like a house cat. I laughed while I read it, and then I realized how true the quote was.

My cat has bursts of intense energy when I think she is possessed by an alien. She runs around the house, chasing her tail or imaginary objects on the ground. Sometimes it’s because I’ve forgotten to feed her, but generally it’s due to the fact she has pent up energy. Once this energy has been expended, she collapses. She drapes herself onto her ottoman, which isn’t really hers, but she has become quite proprietary about. She watches me as I move about the house with one eye open and then lowers her head, as though to say “not worth the energy.”

Marisol lounging on “her” ottoman

When I sit to write or edit, she jumps on my lap and cries until I let her curl up between my legs. Every time I stretch or reposition myself, she looks up at me as though glaring a reminder that her comfort comes first. All of these lessons are important for me as a writer. The most obvious lesson from the quote was to stay home, sit, and write. However, my cat has taught me other important lessons.

Here are some of the lessons she has taught me:

1) Have fun during the day. Run around and be crazy, at least for a short time. It’s ok to act like you’ve lost your mind, you know you haven’t and what does it matter what anyone else thinks?

2) Become possessive of things that matter to you. She loves her ottoman, even though there are times I have to clean her cat hair off of it when I have guests over because I have to use it as a seat. She swats at me because I am taking away all of her “nesting.” This has taught me to be possessive of my writing time, something that is precious to me. Sometimes I have to give away chunks of time I had planned for writing, and I feel like my cat. I feel like swatting at whoever or whatever is taking it away from me. I don’t, as I like to believe I’m more evolved.

Marisol sitting on my editing, helping in her way as she nests on my pile of papers

Be comfortable in whatever it is you’ve chosen to do. This is a multifaceted statement. The first facet is my physical comfort. When I write, I tend to write for hours, so being comfortable is essential. Somehow, I’ve found a way to be comfortable with a cat on my lap, so that’s another bonus. Secondly, I think this lesson goes beyond writing. Be comfortable with who you are, know yourself well, and don’t try to be what you’re not. You’ll never be comfortable if you put on a mask every day.

Work and play hard, but then collapse. Feel no guilt in resting and relaxing. Guard your down time and don’t let others make you feel guilty because you’re on the couch watching your favorite reruns. (“Downton” again?) You know you’ve worked hard and earned it.

These are some of the lessons I have learned from, or I am reminded frequently of, by my cat. Have you learned any lessons from your pets?

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