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What I Learned From My Cat About The Writing Life

14 June, 2008 Posted by Joanna As Reflections

Animals are great teachers. This is what I learned from my cat about the writing life:

Keep irregular hours: if you want to prowl around at night or take outrageous naps in the afternoon go ahead and do it. Who said there were rules?

Be totally independent: give when you chose to, ask for what you want, know your own mind, do your own thing: always

Indulge your senses: they were gifted to you for a reason

Go off and have adventures: you’ll have more stories to tell when you get back

Protest at closed doors: they were meant to be kept open, allowing us to roam free

Explore every nook and cranny: who knows what goodies you might find?

Be yourself: I admire my cat the most when he just is. His full self: magnificent, beautiful, funny. The essence of catness. Fulfilling his purpose: being precisely what he was meant to be.

This post is a contribution to

What I Learned From Animals project being run by Middle Zone Musings and High Callings

Photo Credit: Catness Mosaic by Joanna Young on flickr

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Categories : Reflections

Nadine Touzet June 14, 2008

Hello Joanna,
I have a cat and a dog and I know exactly what you mean. However, there’s also a lot to be said for the undivided love and affection that a dog gives. Doesn’t a writer need that too? ;)

Dianne June 14, 2008

What fantastic lessons, Joanna, I love this!

Cats really are such wise creatures … and yours is very gorgeous! :o)

AndrewNo Gravatar June 14, 2008

Ha ha!

I think your cat has the right idea, Joanna.

I think we can learn a great deal from our pets. However, I feel that I’ve learned a lot more about what not to do than what to do.

I had a dog who was kept outside during the day. We provided him with a kennel which had inside a hessian mat as well as several blankets inside to keep him warm on cold days.

My decided he preferred the mat and blankets to be out in the sun, so every day he would drag the entire provisions from the kennel outside. As a result, when it rained, the mat and blankets got soaked, and the sheltered kennel would be left with just a cold, hard wooden floor.

Not all of the things our pets do are particularly wise, but they are a whole lot of fun nevertheless.





Brad ShorrNo Gravatar June 14, 2008

What an adorable friend you have, Joanna! And now we know where you learned all your writing skills. What is your cat’s name, I wonder?

Sara June 14, 2008

I love this! I wrote about lessons in simplicity learned from my dog about a month ago, and it was so much fun to think and write about. I like “Indulge your senses.” Isn’t it funny how pets can be content just sniffing the air?

Robert HruzekNo Gravatar June 14, 2008

Great lessons from your furry friend, Joanna! Don’t you just love how they can pour themselves into just about any shaped space, or how they have a way of “owning” a room?

Joanna YoungNo Gravatar June 14, 2008

Nadine, you could well be right. Except I’ve never really been a dog person… not yet anyway. My cat stayed with a family with 2 dogs when I was away for 3 months and had a wonderful time with them which made me think some day, maybe…

Dianne, thanks for appreciating his gorgeousness both here and on flickr. He is purring loudly with the appreciation.

Andrew, you are so right. I’ve learnt a lot from my cat’s daft antics, but it would have meant writing a longer post and I didn’t have time! Your dog sounds funny. It’s wonderful to watch them work so hard at things which are so patently ridiculous.

Brad, there were once two of them, best friends and brothers, and it’s been hard adjusting to there being just one (for him and for me). This gorgeous and outrageous one is called Cracker, because he is (cracking), and because his father was called Jacob (Jacob’s Cream Crackers)

Sara, yes, I think there’s much to be learned from their total enjoyment of and appreciation of the moment. Sounds like this is a philosophy that would fit well with your blog :-)
Robert, yes indeed. And aren’t those two traits also ones that writers might aspire to? :-)
Thanks once again for a great challenge. I didn’t have time to pen a story, but I wanted to be sure to take part anyway.


SpaceAgeSageNo Gravatar June 15, 2008

Our two cats have taught me how to relax and trust. For example, the male cat doesn’t just jump in our laps for attention, he plants himself there to luxuriate in a human’s attention, then stretches to full length to enjoy some belly rubs, and finally curls into a ball to sleep with a peace that radiates into the room.

Robert A. Henru June 16, 2008

Interesting post Joanna =)
Cat is real ignorance, as if the whole world is his. It’s so confident in being itself.


UllaNo Gravatar June 16, 2008

thanks for your post! I especially love the last sentence: “I admire my cat most when he just is”. I love cats but don’t have one - life in a flat in a big city is not much to offer to a cat.


Joanna YoungNo Gravatar June 16, 2008

Space Age Sage, you capture that so beautifully. Your words are making me smile now as I think of him. What a wonderful expression: a peace that radiates into the room

Robert, I’m glad you managed to post the comment this time. Sorry for the trouble before. You’re right, a cat is totally confident in being himself. But I wonder: is that ignorance, or wisdom?

Ulla, although I am envious of you living in Berlin it’s a shame if it means you can’t have a cat!


Alina PopescuNo Gravatar June 16, 2008

Very inspirational entry, Joanna. I’d add one thing I’ve learned from my cats though: know my worth. Cats are well aware of what they are worth and would never settle for less :)

Karen Putz / DeafMomNo Gravatar June 16, 2008

What a beautiful cat! It’s true that animals do mourn the buddies they miss. My mother-in-law had two dogs, and one of them was hit by a car. The other dog was never the same after that-it broke my heart to see the change.

Joanna YoungNo Gravatar June 16, 2008

Alina, that’s a great addition. Know your worth is a powerful mantra, and not just for writers!

Karen, I think my cat has now recovered though it was hard (for both of us) at first. I compensate by pretending to be a cat which makes for some good cuddles!


Amanda Mae June 18, 2008

Wow Thank you so much for writing this! I found this completely by chance, and I have to say this has been an inspiration for me! I was down when I found this and it made me smile and feel better about some of my own unique writing habits! (IE: irregular hours)

Joanna YoungNo Gravatar June 19, 2008

Hi Amanda

Sometimes I think posts we find by chance are the best. Glad this one gave you a lift.

I berate myself too about my irregular hours… still much to learn from my cat who just does what the heck he wants.

Best wishes with your writing


emily carmichaelNo Gravatar July 1, 2008

Joanna, he’s gorgeous! reminds me of a much more elegant, and of course lighter, version of my Huckleberry (photo linked to my name).

we have had a house full of cats my entire life, and i have probably learned more from them than from many of the people i’ve know. thanks for a lovely post. =)

Joanna YoungNo Gravatar July 2, 2008

Emily, thanks for sharing the link to Huckleberry - he is gorgeous. My cat’s brother, now sadly not with us I’m afraid, had ears just like that :-)

Dianna September 5, 2008

I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to say that I love cats, and that it is so true. I personally take the odd hours advice to an extreme. (I run on an Australian Schedule, or at least what I would like to run on in terms of schedule if I lived in Australia…)

And he’s pretty. I just called a male cat pretty. It’s okay, mine is too.

JoannaNo Gravatar September 5, 2008

Dianna, it’s never too late round here to share a comment or two. Thanks for taking the time to read and offer feedback.

I’m glad you liked the piece, and my cat. I tend to call him handsome - but he probably does have moments of being pretty too :-)

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