Many of us work at home these days. And home is often where the cat is. How do you manage your cat in your home workplace? Is she welcome there as she is in the rest of the house? I guess if you manufacture cat toys or climbing apparatus for cats in your garage, you use your cats for testing. Good idea. But if you cater large parties or make baby food at home, it might not be kosher (or legal) to have your cat in the kitchen with you when you cook.
I write about cats and with cats. I love having the cats wander in and out of my office throughout the day. Lily will come in for attention or to remind me it’s lunch time. She likes to get up on my desk where she has a perfect view of the outdoor bird feeder. And she enjoys playing with some of my supplies—paper clips and pens, for example. She entertains me with her antics, especially when she steps on the wrong side of a sticky note and begins dancing around trying to shake it off her foot.
Sophie used to come in my office and wait for a fax to drop from the machine. Then she’d carry it into the living room and shred it.
There have been CATastrophes in my office as well. Max once fell off my desk. I accidentally closed Lily’s paw in my desk drawer. And I’ve rolled my chair over a cat’s tail more than once.
I know authors who have a cozy bed on a corner of their desk for their cats. Mine reject that invitation. They want access to the entire desk. I heard about another author who writes on a drafting table—you know, one of those slanted tables. When asked why, he said, “The cats can’t get on it.”
What about the ambiance in a writer’s workspace? Well, cats are part of that for me and many other writers and artists. I’ve always wondered, though, how you keep your cats out of your paint. It’s hard enough for some of us to keep track of our pens. Yes, we still use pens to make notes while we’re creating on the computer—at least I do.
I like to work in a bright, well-lit room with a window. I also like something of interest to look at from time to time out that window—for me, it’s mostly birds. I want everything at hand and organized in my office—well, except for my desk when I’m working on a story or another project. It can look untidy, but I know where things are. I want easy access to the things I use most and I’ve organized my office in that way. I also want things that inspire and delight around me—my best photographs, a display of my book covers, awards, and pictures of my cats and my grandkids/great-grandkids. Oh yes, and I like a spacious desk and a comfy chair.
Some great writers wrote in cramped quarters, using a pencil on a child-size desk while sitting in a straight-back chair. Some, such as E.B. White appeared to be minimalists with not a shred of paper or a book in sight, while other writers and artists created in chaotic surroundings, such as food writer, Nigela Lawson and artist, Francis Bacon.
Some of us have beautiful office furniture, artistic surroundings, and a gorgeous view, while others make use of what we could beg, borrow, or buy at a local yard sale. It’s difficult to think that something lovely could be created from chaos, but it happens and it’s been happening for centuries. Not only that, cats in the home workplace is also nothing new and boy am I glad of that. A cat, you know, makes an excellent muse.