Are cats better companions for a writer than dogs?
Of course Betsy says she is a far better mate, every day in fact, as she sniffs her food with disdain, giving me the look that says, 'This is NOT the kind I like', turns her back on me, stalks out the door to venture out into the garden for the day where the sun is bright and warm.
In an essay for the New Yorker, author Karl Ove Knausgaard wrote about two years of owning a dog, and during that time he did not write a single line of literary prose. The Guardian article goes on to say that he did write articles and essays though but the dog was such a problem for him, he wondered 'Has a single good author ever owned a dog?'
I like the quietness of a cat. Betsy is very good at just sitting, watching, hanging out with me when I write. She often sits up on the printer, purring, closing her eyes in some kind of catly meditation.
A dog would make me get up a lot, take it for walks, tend to it because it might bark and chew up stuff.
I did live with a dog once. It stayed in the house I shared with two other people. I worked nights at the time and my flatmates worked days, so I was the sole entertainment for the dog during the daylight hours, and it needed constant entertainment. I identify with Karl when he says in his essay, "It never let me out of its sight, and tagged along after me over to the house I write in, lay down at my feet when I was working, and, if I put on some music, it would sometimes begin to howl, often in the same pitch as the vocals."
At least with Betsy she only howls when she's hungry, doesn't follow me about (ever) and doesn't need to be taken for a walk. She does that herself.
I suppose dogs are good in that they make you get out into the world, you have to pop them onto a leash and exercise them, and I do remember the dog I lived with took great joy in my company and really seemed to love me dearly, and I was fond of it. Most afternoons we would walk out in the acres of forest that surrounded this house we lived in, explore, look for rattlesnakes of which there were a great number, and have adventures together, look up and look down at the clouds, the sky, the earth, the trees.
Can't do that with Betsy, no sir, and now, working from home as a writer, it would be hard to have a companion that demanded more time than my felicitous feline. I'm kinda with Aldhous Huxley when he said, 'If you want to write, keep cats.'