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08/19 – WALT MUSSELL – JAPANESE INSPIRATIONAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My cat said he loves me...

Yeah, right. I'm kind of glad my pets can't talk. At least, not in English.

I think most domestic animals view human behaviour with a mixture of confusion and incredulity.  Plus, if they're a cat, a healthy dose of contempt.

What on earth is that human doing? they say to themselves. Why must I participate in these strange rituals to get what I want? Where is the food, and when can I have some? Why is there someone on my side of the bed? Why is there never anything good on television?

My cat would kill me and eat me, if only he were a little larger and not quite as lazy. Still, it's the thought that counts. The day he learns to open one of those pull-top cans that cat food comes in? I'm screwed. Until then? Opposable thumbs, big fella. Watch 'em and weep.

Dinner is the major part of his day - nay, of his existence. If he could speak, his conversation would be something like this.

{Silence. For hours, until he's ready. Glares. Licks himself.}

"Where's the food?"


Yeah, that'd pretty much be it. Plonk on lap. Sleep now.

My dog, on the other hand, just wants attention. He doesn't care what kind - so long as he's on your radar, he's happy. Even being a bad dog is better than being ignored.

His idea of a cool car journey is not to stick his head out the window and hang his tongue in the wind. He just sits on the passenger seat and stares at you while you're driving. Intently. Kind of like he looks in the picture. What now? What now? What now?

Dog can do this for hours on end. Honestly, it'd be creepy if he wasn't so dense.

It's also kind of cool that pets don't understand English when they hear it. It means that I can say whatever I like, so long as it's in that cheerful, 'good boy!' tone of voice. The names my dog gets are unrepeatable. But does he care? Not a whit. So long as I'm calling him something, he's happy.

The cat routinely gets labelled 'Fatty' and 'Boombah' and 'Waterbag' (imagine that big floppy orange fella stretched out on his side and you will see this) and he just carries on, oblivious. On the other hand, maybe he does understand, and he's just biding his time...

Anyway, I'm not sure what this has to do with romance novels. The hero in my latest book has a cat, Rudolph, who eyes him with disdain and demands food. Damn, I've stereotyped a cat. Still, the fact that my hero is a 'cat person' (as opposed to a 'dog person') is shorthand for so many things.

Dogs assimilate, cats go their own way. Dogs obey, cats ignore. Dogs are Royalists, cats are republicans (lower-case r, of course). Dogs crave validation. Cats, au contraire, couldn't care less whether you like them or not. They don't need you. Dogs do.

Do you think owners choose pets that reflect their own personality? Is a romance between two cat people going to be a different story than a romance between a dog person and a cat person? Or is it all just about the cute furry animals?

4 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

I'm adding a character element! cat person or dog person - you are right that is short-hand for many things. I've friends who are both though - hmmm will have to think about what that means.

So far in my novels, I have no pets and only animals (race horses) are featured in one of them.

Fun post...thanks for sharing pictures of your furry family.

Sarah Raplee said...

I laughed through your post, Erica!We can take advantage of the cat/dog stereotypes (and cat-lover, dog-lover stereotypes) to help readers understand our human characters. Being one of those strange people Judith mentions who loves both, I must point out that both sometimes go against type. That, too, can add to our stories!

Great post!

Erica Hayes said...

Yeah, I think the whole 'cat or dog person' is one of those things that has some basis in reality, but only up to a point.

Cats do seem to attract more loathing, though. Some people are vehement in their hatred of cats. You don't hear the same kind of vitriol about dogs.

I guess some people just don't like the idea of an animal that doesn't always do as it's told :)

Judith Ashley said...

Nah, it isn't that a cat doesn't do what it's told and dogs do - I've known many, many dogs that cannot be trusted around an open door, gate, etc.

Well, after spending 15 minutes writing and editing a comment, I've deleted almost all of it because it was too serious a response to a fun post.