Friday, May 23, 2014

Musings About the Curious Bond between Cat Lovers and Mystery Readers and Writers

Cats and mysteries just seem to go hand in hand.  It’s not unusual to go into a local bookstore and find a cat wandering about the shelves or gazing from the window. There’s something cozy, too, about curling up by the fireplace with a good book and a cat on your lap.  And writing goes better for many authors if there is a furry friend to keep them company.  My pet Maggie is usually hanging around while I write.

My Cat Maggie Supervising 

Maybe the bond between mystery lovers and cats stems from the fact that cats themselves are mysterious creatures.  While dogs make their wants and needs and affections clear, cats love to keep their owners guessing.  You own a dog, but a cat usually owns you.

Cats Make Good Companions for Writers

Helpful cats (Photo: Godserv: morguefile)

Who Wrote the Book?  ( ML Photo: Morguefile)

My cats keep me company when I work.  I dream up a new green-eyed hero only to find a wide-eyed cat staring back at me from the top of the desk.  Surely, that’s not where my inspiration came from!  My cats also love to help by sitting on my keyboard, knocking things off my desk, or chasing the pages as they come out of the printer, such as these busy cats in the photos.

Famous Authors Who Love Cats

Cats and authors have a long-enduring relationship.  Many famous writers, from Alexander Dumas to Charles Dickens, had cats for pets.  T.S. Eliot, Mark Twain and  Ernest Hemingway all had a large number of cats.  Among Hemingway’s brood of cats were Alley Cat, Boise, and Dillinger.  Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, also had a number of cats, named Simkin, Moppet, Mrs. Ribby, Ginger, and Tom Kitten.  Charles Dicken’s cat, Wilamena, contributed to his literary efforts by having a litter of kittens in his study.

Cats and Literature

The characters in Shakespeare’s plays have inspired many cat names, such as Tybalt, Prospero, and Ophelia. There’re also quite a few cats named Shakespeare.  Cats have also been given the names the great romantic classic heroes and heroines such as Heathcliff, Jane Eyre, and Darcy.

Cats may also be named after authors or people associated with authors.  Zelda (F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife) has had many cats named for her.  Quite a few black cats have been named Poe, not to mention, Hemingway, Tolstoy, and Dr. Seuss.

Cats even sometimes find themselves the main characters of mystery books, such as Koko and Yum-yum in Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat who...series.

Cats in Mysteries: Don’t Kill the Cat

As mystery writers, my sister and I know better to kill a cat.  If someone is mean to a cat, it had better be the villain.  While humans are more or less expendable as the plot dictates, it’s almost an unspoken law that mystery readers will never forgive the murder of or tolerate any cruelty toward their furry friends.  My advice to mystery writers: kill all the people you want, but “touch not the cat.”


  1. I've always been such a cat there any other type of writer? But I guess T.S. Eliot raised it to a new level.

  2. I'm sorry to say that I'm not much of a cat or mystery lover. Maybe, there really is a connection.

  3. Funny you should mention Shakespeare. I, Nerissa the Cat, and my litter mates Desdemona, Beatrice & Constance were all given Shakespearean names.


  4. Hi Vickie--
    Great post and I love the cat pics!