Fun > Celebrity pet gossip > Literary Cats: Writers and Their Feline Friends

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11/01/2011 23:43:32 PM by Jade07   Send Message to Jade07  7611  views, category: Celebrity pet gossip view all blogs

Mark Twain, pool table and kitten


Writing is a solitary profession, so it’s no wonder that many famous authors throughout history have enjoyed the company of a cat (or two or three) as they labored at the computer, typewriter or composed with pen and paper. Here are a few writers who shared their workspace with a feline companion.
Mark Twain

Humorist and Huckleberry Finn author Mark Twain was so fond of cats, he lived with up to 19 of them at one time. He even placed one of his kittens on his pool table to join in a game of billards. The kitty would reach out with his paws to stop the balls as they hit the corner pocket. Twain often wrote of cats in his novels, stories and letters, including Concerning Cats: Two Tales, based on bedtime stories he told his daughters.
His daughter Clara gave him a mischievous black cat named Bambino, who loved to scratch him and barter for his attention. Twain taught the cat to turn out the lamp light for him at night, and loved showing him off to visitors. One night, Bambino slipped away through an open window. Twain was so distraught he placed a “Lost Cat” ad in the New York American. Eventually, Bambino returned on his own, but people still answered the ad, eager to get a glimpse of the famous writer.


 Bukowski and friend

Charles Bukowski
Tough, hard drinking Charles Bukowski, L.A.’s poet laureate, lived in Hollywood for most of his career and wrote bawdy poems about life in Tinseltown’s tough, non-celebrity neighborhoods. He exhibited a mellow side when playing with his cats, and he was often photographed with them. Several of his poems feature passages about his pets or cats in general. His poem Exactly Right begins:
the strays keep arriving: now we have 5
cats and they are smart, spontaneous, self-
absorbed, naturally poised and awesomely

 *From The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps, Ecco Press

A polydactyl, or Hemingway cat

Ernest Hemingway
A ship captain gifted the young Ernest Hemingway with his first cat, a six-toed Maine coon named Snowball. Thus began Hemingway’s lifelong reverence for cats, and he soon filled his house in Key West with Snowball’s descendants, many of them also sporting extra digits.  These cats, called polydactyls, have a genetic trait that causes them to develop six or more toes on their front paws and occasionally, extra toes on the back paws. These distinctive felines have become so entwined in Hemingway’s legacy that polydactyls are sometimes referred to as Hemingway cats.
Throughout his life in Key West, Hemingway’s cats accompanied him at the typewriter, the library, even the dinner table. There’s even a book dedicated to Hemingway and his cat companions.
Hemingway had a provision in his will to provide for the cats on the grounds of his home. Today, between 40 and 60 cats, many of them polydactyls, roam freely on the grounds of the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum in Key West. The cats give a comfy touch to the surroundings as visitors stroll through the study and the patio where “Papa” worked on his manuscripts.
 The USDA almost banished the cats in 2003, claiming that Hemingway House needed to secure an exhibitor license and keep the polydactyl kitties in cages. The battle between the government and Hemingway House ended several years later when the museum erected an enclosure fence to keep the cats from straying.

 William Burroughs
Counterculture author William Burroughs wrote some of the most controversial books of his time, but he was a real softie when it came to his cats. He was in his 70s when he wrote The Cat Inside,, an ode to his feline companions. He lived out his life in rural Kansas with his beloved cats keeping him company.

William Burroughs & one of his pet cats

About the author: Marianne Moro is a freelance writer and publicist living in Hollywood, CA. She has written for many publications, clients and websites, including USA Today, Blogcritics Magazine, Modamag and Entertainment Today, among others. She's the proud co-o... more >>

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