“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”

Mark Twain
By Dave Dentel

Ernest Hemingway had his six-toed cats. Robert Heinlein famously wrote about a cat who tried all the doors in the house until he found the one that led to summer.

T.S. Eliot left off lamenting the decline of modern society long enough to pen ditties about fantastic felines—which later inspired a Broadway hit.

The many cats in my life help animate my literary efforts, too, though not necessarily by modeling whimsical characters or enacting zany plot points.

Their contributions are more in the lines of practical encouragement.

Motley, our attention-craving tortoiseshell, reminds me not to overextend my stays at the computer by hopping on the desk and jolting my mouse hand with her orange-and-black noggin.

Whisk, a schizophrenic tuxedo who has since passed on to that great bowl of little friskies in the sky, promoted slumber by climbing into bed after lights out and snuggling into the small of my back. (During the day he cowered under the nearest piece of furniture.) 

The ferals at the many colonies my wife attends to daily do their part as well. Often during our treks to feed the four-legged waifs I’ve snatched time between stops to peck out a few more lines on the laptop. And watching the kibble flow has more than once steeled my resolve not just to keep writing—but to make the effort somehow return a wage.

Readers can judge how successful our felines have been in inspiring good prose by sampling the stories in my new anthology: This Do in Remembrance.

The collection of suspense tales features no cats, but does contain engaging characters and thrilling plots. I’d like to think that Motley, Whisk and the others would approve.

Robert Heinlein, too.

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