By: Cordelia Bloom
Before jumping right into the article, please enjoy this original microfiction insert, titled “Meow, Obviously”:
I must be the first one she’s ever had—
If I meow in the mornings, I’m hungry. Feed me. Obviously.
But she only pets me.
If I meow and walk in a specific direction, follow me. Obviously.
But she only pets me.
If I meow during dinnertime, I’m hungry. Feed me again obviously, it’s been like eight hours. But she still just pets me—makes me wait.
If I meow and stretch my paw, I’d like some attention. She definitely understands that one because she pets and kisses and hugs me.
If I’m sleeping and she pets me, and I meow—please leave me alone.
But when she leaves every morning? I meow and she doesn’t hear me. I’ll just take a long nap and wait until she comes back home.
I miss her. Obviously.
Mental Health Is Cool, Writing Too
What’s mental health exactly? Psychologist and mental health expert, Julie McIsaac, defines it as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices (2019). In other words, if we combine our emotional, psychological, and social aspects, along with our daily perceptions and behaviors, then we hold all the components to our mental health. If we’re not careful with keeping a balance between these factors, then we’ll struggle with making one or too many odd decisions. Do you happen to know what’s one of the best coping tools used to positively influence our mental health? Writing.
Writing is so good for our mental health. This can be very therapeutic and can help you deal with difficult emotions or situations. Writing has been shown to improve mental clarity, increase focus, boost self-esteem, and more (Meadows, 2022). Many theories suggest that bottling up emotions can lead to psychological distress. It stands to reason that writing increases mental health because it offers a safe, confidential, and free way to disclose emotions that were previously bottled up (Thatcher, 2021).
When we write, we spill our imagination, thoughts, ideas, and feelings on paper. In doing so, it helps us heal and deal with difficult situations or emotions.
Additionally, if we were to use writing prompts, it’d also help us maximize our writing efforts by applying writing skills. Is there any better way to elevate this form of art or exercise, you may ask?
A Writer’s Ally
Cats are a reassuring company for writers. In works of writing, cats often take on a mystical role; they are tricksters, or indicate something off-beat about their owner. There’s something about cats that gives them a certain mystery and one that makes a special muse to writers (American Writers Museum, 2020).
And so the answer to our question above is yes! Writing with a fellow companion—like a cat specifically—elevates the entire writing experience.
There are hundreds of well-known authors and writers that happily attest to this theory, like for example (Writer’s Write, 2018):
- Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls): adored his six-toed cat Snowball and nowadays, six-toed cats (also known as polydactyl) are called Hemingway Cats.
- Stephen King: In Pet Sematary, he tells a story of loss inspired by his family’s own tragic experience with their pet cat, Smucky, who was hit by a car.
- Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.” He kept eleven cats at his farm in Connecticut.
- Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451), “Treat ideas like cats… make them follow you.”
- L. M. Montgomery (the collection of Anne of Green Gables): a year after her favorite cat passed away, she journaled, “There is rarely a night that, waking, the tears do not rush to my eyes when I cannot put out my hand and feel his silken flank in the darkness.”
- Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart), “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
- Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist): after his cat Bob died in 1862, he had Bob’s paw stuffed and attached to a letter opener, “What greater gift than the love of a cat?”
The list keeps on going! Without a doubt, writers and cats have always shared a special bond. The tranquility of a cat helps inspire and improve productivity. It is said that this tranquility factor grabs hold of us at some point, while enabling our minds to regain self-command.
Are you feeling like you’re wanting to have a special connection with a cat yet, if you don’t already?
A Cat Writer’s Workshop
If you’ve just realized that one of your classic all-time favorite author(s) used to be a cat lover, it’s a fact that you’re just itching to either search for your perfect feline friend and/or to start writing. Do it!
If you’re feeling a little intimidated by penciling down your thoughts or anything at all, don’t worry! In fact, it’s completely normal to feel somewhat overwhelmed with emotions and ideas. The important thing is to not allow that fear to prevent you from writing.
Thanks to Missi—the owner of Elementary Assessments, a pre-approved continuing professional education (CPE) provider for the State of Texas—we’ll be able to use the following prompts to help jumpstart our next writing session. And to make it even more entertaining, we’ll find a special collection of fun cat writing prompts (Missi, 2023):
- Write a diary entry from the perspective of a spoiled cat.
- Write a combination of similes and metaphors to describe cats.
- Why are some people afraid of cats? How can they overcome this fear?
- Write a letter from the perspective of a cat trying to convince its owner to buy it a new toy mouse.
- What’s really on a cat’s mind?
- Would you rather care for a kitten or an adult cat? Explain.
- Write a funny story about a cat that talks in its sleep.
The collection includes many more writing prompts—these mentioned above allow us to take our imagination for a walk. Also, we now have a variety of writing prompts that we could use in other writing activities or workshops.
Cats are like writers, if you will. They’re willful creatures who do not like to be controlled. Cats, like writers, prefer to wander on their own without interruptions; they value personal and quiet space grandly. Most authors are creative introverts, wouldn’t you think so? This is one of the reasons as to why cats fit beautifully into a writer’s world.
Have you thought about what you’d like to start writing in order to maintain (or start working on) your mental health? Did you realize (or not) that you’re going to need a furry companion to hold one of your hands while the other writes? This would be the perfect opportunity to journal with The Love Story by clicking the link below and share your thoughts: What does your next step look like?
American Writers Museum. (2020, May 23). Cats, a writer’s loyal companion. American Writers Museum. https://americanwritersmuseum.org/cats-a-writers-loyal-companion/
Decksen, D. (2020, May 5). Famous writers and their cats. The Writing Studio. https://writingstudio.co.za/famous-writers-and-their-cats/#:~:text=Eliot’s%20Jellylorum.,beautifully%20into%20an%20introvert’s%20world.
McIsaac, J. (2019, November 14). Fellow parents, let’s talk about mental health. Exceptional Lives. https://www.exceptionallives.org/blog/fellow-parents-lets-talk-about-mental-health?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIneGYpKmi_gIVOdzjBx0sogmBEAAYAiAAEgJWt_D_BwE
Meadows, T. (2022, February 14). This is your brain on writing. The Writing Cooperative. https://writingcooperative.com/this-is-your-brain-on-writing-f393d68a4687
Missi. (2023, March 11). 41 cat writing prompts: Fun ideas to write about. Elementary Assessments. https://elementaryassessments.com/cat-writing-prompts/
Thatcher, C. (2021, June 17). Writing can improve mental health – here’s how. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/amp/writing-can-improve-mental-health-heres-how-162205
Patterson, A. (2018, August 25). The relationship between famous writers & their cats. Writer’s Write. https://www.writerswrite.co.za/the-relationship-between-writers-their-cats/