Monday, July 30, 2007

Cats and Mysteries

by Julia Buckley

I'm wondering at the preponderance of cats in fiction, especially mystery fiction. What is it about cats that sells books? I am a cat lover, although until recently I had only one, who bears the unfortunate name of Pibby Tails because a very insistent two year old named him. My husband suggests that one of the reasons our eldest cat fights so much is that the other Toms in the neighborhood are outside mocking him, calling "Pibby Tails! Pibby Tails!" with great glee.

Now he's restricted to the indoors, thanks to his belligerent streak, and is being forced to adapt to two new kittens (as is our Beagle). One of the kittens, pictured above, is named Rose, and is rather dainty, while her brother Mulliner, pictured here, is more aggressive--but they both bear the undeniable air of mystery that imbues all cats.

So I'm curious--is it that mystery which makes cats so naturally loved by those who love literature? Is it because cats have always loyally sat upon us (and our books) while we read? Is it because of their natural grace and beauty, or what T.S. Eliot called their "unashamed felinity?"

So far cats have not worked their way into my books, but I'm guessing it's just a matter of time. Right now, perhaps because my children are still at home and very loud, I tend to put children into my fiction. But when they leave home, perhaps my eye will stray to my cat, and suddenly the ideas for feline-inspired fiction will flow.

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