Channelling cats by Kirsten Bett


Image by Viviane Monconduit from Pixabay

I love it when cats tell the story. One of the best books I read was Jennie by Paul Gallico. On my favourite app Good Reads I looked it up again because my umpteenth copy has long gone missing... Do you know it? It's about a boy who wakes up as a cat. He does not know how to be a cat but luckily he meets Jennie, a real cat who teaches him all he has to know. 

This is my memory, and it often fails so maybe I am getting it all wrong. My point is: can books be written from a cat's point of view. My answer is: yes of course they can. Why not? 

But then I remember when enrolling into a writing course, I was told in no uncertain terms that cats made flat story tellers. So for a long time, I didn't. And then I read another fantastic cat book: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa. I am looking at a copy right now. It is not so much what is said in the story but what is left out. The travelling happens in Japan and follows the cat Nana and Sartoru on their road trip. 

The Cat Chronicles gave me the idea to write a book about our 10-year move to the other side of the world and back again, seen through the eyes of our cat Wilma. I am on the second draft now  and some days wonder if it will ever see the light of day. In an interview with Wilma, she gave me just the advice I needed: "Just get it done." 

As Ernest Hemmingway appears to have said, probably in one of his more sober moods: "A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not."

Cats and dogs

I have not read that many cat novels although I am a fan of Warrior Cats by the collective Erin Hunter. At the moment I am trying to stay away -- I worry they would influence my writing too much. Another reason to finish my book! Preparing this blog, I was amazed to find many articles titled The top 10 cats in books or My favourite cats in books. I read the articles with interest and mostly look forward to starting The Cat Inside by William S. Burroughs, a cat lover. In this book he talks about his own cats, how they made him the man he became. I love the title!

I am sure a few of you will be thinking: what about dogs? Dogs are better this and that. I love dogs too, but as I have never had a dog, I have to agree with Charles Dickens:
"What greater gift than the love of a cat."

But what about you, do you also love books written from a cat's point of view? Or not? What do you (not) like about them? I would love to hear.


Eden Baylee said…
Hi Kirsten, I don't think I've ever read a book from the POV of a cat.

The only ones I've read from an animal's POV (that I can remember) are THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London, CHARLOTTE's WEB by EB White, and ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell.

They may have been required reading in school. :)
Kirsten Bett said…
Ah yes, thanks Eden, the call of the wild, I did read that many years ago, brilliant book!
Peter Leyland said…
Hi Kirsten

This made me think fictional and nonfictional cats. There is a Japanese satirical novel called I Am a Cat but I've yet to read it. My wife loves A Cat Named Bob and we have the books and film. We also have a ginger cat ourselves named Monty. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats is a great favourite of mine, especially McCavity which we called our first one after. There is also a cat character called Behemoth in The Master and Margarita.

Great first blog. I'm going to look out for William Burrough's book, better than shooting apples off people's heads I'm sure!
Kirsten Bett said…
Hi Peter, thanks so much for your comment! I am still getting my head around Blogger so only saw it this morning. I will add your recommendations to my tbr. They sound great. And thank you especially for your encouraging words!
Wendy H. Jones said…
I’m late to the party as this slipped under my radar. I’m loving looking at things from a cat’s point of view. I love it. Well done for coming up with a unique spin
Kirsten Bett said…
Hi Wendy, and I am late to your reply. Thank you so much for your comment.

Popular posts

The Year of Just Being There: Dipika Mukherjee looks back at 2016

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

Close Reading | Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose | Karen Kao

A Week of Three Libraries -- Julia Jones

Why Would You Vote for Peter Duck? You Don’t Have To -- Julia Jones