When I tell people I’m a mystery writer, they picture my life as glamorous and exciting, filled with an endless round of power lunches and research trips to exotic locales. What they forget is that ninety percent of my time is spent hunched in front of the computer, wrestling my characters and plots into submission. A writer’s life can be a surprisingly solitary one.
And that’s where my cats come in. I have eight rescued cats and they bring enormous joy to my life. They spend much of the day with me (when they’re not snoozing or just chilling on the glassed-in sun porch) and their quiet presence is comforting.
You’re never alone when you have a houseful of cats; there’s always someone who needs a pat on the head, a belly rub or a quick snuggle. My cats have very different personalities and I enjoy them all.
Oliver is an aristocratic cat and I could picture him at Downton Abbey, chatting with Lord Grantham in another life. Always dignified, Oliver is keenly intelligent with a somewhat demanding meow. Oliver is a cat who knows what he wants in life (food, attention) and he doesn’t hesitate to let his wishes be known. After all, we mere mortals are here to serve him!
Henry is “my little sociopath.” Henry was a neighborhood cat. People fed him, but never adopted him. When I rescued him, I could see why. I called him “Gladiator Cat,” because he would run into the house for dinner, terrorize my cats and then go racing out the door. It took a great deal of time to tame him. How did I do it? I set the buzzer for twenty minutes every day and devoted that time to Henry. I took him on the porch and brushed him, pet him, played with him and made him feel special. All the while, the other cats were watching through the glass door, wondering why “the evil cat” was getting so much attention. It paid off. Henry’s behavior has improved dramatically.
Eliza and Clyde are resilient cats. Clyde, a beat-up Tom cat, refused to come inside, but brought his pregnant girl friend, a cute little tuxedo cat, for dinner one night. It was bitterly cold and he stood by and guarded her while she ate. I managed to lure her onto the sun porch and she gave birth to five kittens two days later!! Meanwhile, Clyde continued to be on the prowl, but I eventually trapped him and now he is a happy house cat.
Fur-Face, an adorable calico, is one of their kittens—she’s playful and intelligent, first in line at dinner time.
Calpurnia is Eliza’s daughter from a previous litter. She’s a lovely cat with a shy personality. Since she was four months old when I managed to rescue her, she’s semi-feral and I am the only one who can pet her.
I found Oscar outside a neighbor’s house in the pouring rain. The neighbors were away and Oscar was too terrified to let me pick him up. I went back to feed him three days in a row and finally managed to catch him in a beach towel. He loves attention, adores cuddling and seems grateful for his home.
Shadow was curled up in the rain, weak and emaciated, under a bush in the garden. He was starving, missing half his fur and wolfed down two cans of cat food. He looks quite handsome with his lion cut for summer and has such a sweet personality.
All my cats have taught me so much; how to be resilient and get through hard times, how to enjoy simple pleasures like a warm breeze on a sunny day and how to offer unconditional love. And best of all, I never have to spend a lonely hour at the computer, I now have plenty of friendly cats to offer me companionship.
I included two fictional cats, Barney and Scout, in Nightmares Can Be Murder. I thought about giving them magic powers or making them psychic, and then I decided to make them “loveable housecats,” just like my pets.
Mary Kennedy is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of The Dream Club Mysteries and the Talk Radio Mysteries. She lives on the East Coast with her husband and eight neurotic cats. Both husband and cats have resisted all her attempts to psychoanalyze them, but she remains optimistic. You can learn more at http://www.marykennedy.net or http://www.cozychicksblog.com where she blogs every Saturday.