Cats & Books

What is it about cats and books? Why do cats love books so much? Are they really the most comfortable beds around? Or are the cats actually reading on the sly?

Or do cats perhaps grow jealous of the attention we pay our books, and conspire to stop us from reading them? (Or, in a related theory, do they see where our attention is focused, and opt to lie there?)

Why do I ask? Well, after Lois won the biography of the Prince Regent here a couple weeks ago, she found she had to share the book with her cat — as you can see in the above picture!

Very cute cat. I love cats. And books.

Hmm… Is there a link somewhere here?

Is it possible that we’re dealing with more than just the love cats have for books?

Might it be possible that book people tend to be cat people? (Or is that a lie perpetuated by cat-lovers to bolster their own egos?)

What do you think? Are you a cat person? do you think readers tend to be cat people? If so, why? Or are all those cats in bookstores merely a coincidence, or evidence of yet another cat conspiracy?

And what’s your theory about why cats love to lie on books???

All opinions welcome!

Cara
Cara King — author of MY LADY GAMESTER, in which there is a brief mention of a kitten, but sadly little else in the feline line

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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20 Responses to Cats & Books

  1. I’m definitely a cat person. I was also a dog person in my younger days, but we lived in small apartments when we decided we wanted a pet in our lives. So cats we got and now I think I’m happy just being a cat lady.

    Both my cats like books. Actually, my older cat, Harley likes manuscripts. She will find any manuscript I’m working on and snuggle with it.

    Our younger cat, Quinn, is more inclined toward books. She’ll put her arm around them.

    And I love the idea that they’re secretly reading. If that’s true, my cats are definitely romance fans.

  2. Robena Grant says:

    My first pet when I was married was a cat (besides the hubby of course) and hubby and I liked to play Scrabble. The cat would jump up onto the table and watch us, then either because of wanting to join in, or wanting to spoil the game and get undivided attention, she’d swat the letter cubes with her paws.
    And yes, I’d often catch her taking a nap on a book, the newspaper, or the top of the computer.
    I’m now a large dog person, but I miss my cat.

  3. Kalen Hughes says:

    I’m a 100% dog person, as are all nearly all my friends (only one cat in the whole gang). And we’re all book nuts with staggering TBR piles and bookcases so full the shelves groan (and sometimes break!). So, at least in my world, there’s no correlation between books and cats.

  4. Cara King says:

    Jenna, do you think Harley is trying to edit your work? 🙂

    Robena, is it possible your cat was trying to spell the word “GiveMeMoreTuna”?

    Kalen — thanks for the “other” perspective! So now I’m wondering… Do dogs lie on books? (I would guess not large dogs, anyway… Does anyone know if small dogs lie on books or manuscripts?)

    Cara

  5. Kalen Hughes says:

    All my dogs have been book hounds. My 65lb Staffie likes to use them as pillows (and she’s all about nosing them out of the way; what am I doing ignoring her in favor of that inanimate object!). And sometimes she licks them. Who knows why.

    She’s also been known to steal my favorite books off the book shelf and sleep with them when I’m out of town (thank god she hasn’t eaten one since she was a puppy; my lovely Yale Shakespeare set is now shy one copy of Much Ado About Nothing).

  6. Elena Greene says:

    I’ve noticed lots of cat lovers among my fellow writers and wondered if I should get one.

    The thing is, my parents never let us have pets (wow that sounds sad!) and so I haven’t gotten used to having one around. Though I like both cats and dog, I have enough to do taking care of my kids right now to want to have another creature putting demands on my time! Maybe when the kids are a bit older and (possibly wishful thinking here) might help take care of a pet.

    I did give in and get the kids some goldfish. They’re pretty to look at, they don’t complain if they’re not fed every day, and I only have to clean their tank twice a month. But no, I have never caught them reading.

    Elena 🙂

  7. Kalen Hughes says:

    No pets? In my world that verges on the criminal. But then my parents were an “anything gos” kind of household. You name it, I had it at some point: dogs (mostly HUGE dogs like Neufs), cats (never less than 4), rats, hamsters, turtles, fish, birds of all sorts (including parrots, crows, owls, pelicans, seagulls, and blue jays), raccoons, possums, goats, horses, ponies, snakes, lizards, and then there were the bugs (lived next-door to an entomology PhD student for awhile). We even nursed a seal back to health in the tub and babysat a pet bob cat.

  8. Lois says:

    For a brief second, I thought to myself, I know that cat! LOL 🙂 Well, my theory based on my cat alone is that she owns everything that comes in her range, which is probably 50000 feet around her nose. So I put something down, it’s hers. Even if she can’t read. If it’s a bag, she has to know what’s in it, because it might be treats. Everything and anything here is hers.

    Oh, and that’s my story too, what Jenna said about starting off as a dog person then changed it around. For me it was the moment they handed us my Kitty in the adoption center. I said, dogs, what are those? LOL 🙂

    We also still have our parakeet named Popeye (came that way, don’t know why he’s been named that) and two hamsters. They don’t live too long, it was so sad when they died! 🙁

    Lois

  9. Oh, Elena, that is so sad!! My family always had dogs when I was growing up, long-haired dachshunds, but no cats because my dad was allergic (so he said). Now I’m a dog AND cat person, with two of each! And I would have more, along with some chickens and a goat maybe, if I didn’t live in a tiny townhouse. 🙂

    I have noticed that my cats are bibliophiles–I have stacks of books in the living room and along the hallway, and they love to climb up on them and survey their domain, or take a nap. I’ve often wondered why, since hardback books can’t be too comfy, but maybe you’re right and they are reading! The dogs haven’t seemed too interested since they (mercifully) grew out of that “chew the book” puppy stage. 🙂

  10. Elena Greene says:

    Wow, Tonda, what a menagerie!

    I’ve written stories with some of the pets you mention–including a baby seal in SAVING LORD VERWOOD.

    It’s probably a deep-seated desire to have the pets I didn’t as a child. Am I a Bad Mother for denying my kids the same???? My only excuse is I have enough chaos in my life right now. A puppy or kitten might take me right over the edge!

    Elena 🙂

  11. Cara King says:

    Wow, Kalen! Now I have a picture in my mind of you growing up in a combination zoo and historical reenactment. Possums, parrots, and period dress. 🙂

    We weren’t the biggest family for pets when I was growing up — my dad hated them, called them parasites. I will spare you the family closet-skeletons re our early dogs.

    When I was eleven, though, we became dog people, and I remained a dog person for a long time… I was kind of afraid of cats, to be honest — they would stick their claws in you and hiss and do all manner of scary non-dog things. (The worst was, sometimes when they stuck their claws in you, their owners would coo and say “He likes you!” I was not keen on animals who gouged me out of both love and hate.)

    But then I shared a house with cat people, and the cats won me over. Especially Marlowe. Gorgeous fluffy cat, he’d sit on my lap when I watched the news, and purr. And talk to me. Not always sure what he was saying. And one (icky) day I was crying and he came over and licked my elbow with great concern.

    Then one stormy night, three tiny kittens were abandoned in our back yard. We thought they would die, they were so young — couldn’t stand, or lap, or see, or do anything really but suck and wail — but we managed to bottle-feed them and raise them up. I ended up with the least popular of the lot — one of my housemates referred to him as S.O.S. (short for Spawn Of Satan).

    But he grew up to be a wonderful cat — chatty, clean, always hungry, and very affectionate. That’s him in the bottom picture there, the silver tabby with the large white patches.

    He went on to cat heaven a few years ago, and I think I’ve just about talked Todd into us getting a new kitten. 🙂

    Okay, sorry, I’m sure that’s way more than any of you wanted to know about my pet history! Ah, well. Others natter on about their kids or their remodeling or their health problems — I natter on about cats. 🙂

    Cara

  12. Cara King says:

    Elena, don’t feel bad about your kids not having pets. In my experience, the kids always promise to take care of them, and then never do, anyway. So it’s lots of work for the parents.

    Okay, that wasn’t how it was in my family, but it is with most families I see!

    Plus, pets make things like vacations and holidays more difficult.

    And cats are no good with smaller kids anyway. The kids invariably tease them or hold them too much, and the cats end up very wary of people.

    Cara

  13. I am a cat person. I’ve always been a cat person. When I was a kid we had a dog, a cat, tropical fish, and a parakeet, but the cat was “mine.” Not technically mine, but mine in my heart. His name was Snoopy and when he’d go out on the town and come back all scratched up, I’d clean his wounds and tend to him.
    My husband loves cats, too. When we were first married we had a wonderful Siamese cat named Brutus. He had so much personality. We also had an Abysinnian for a while. Now we have four boring cats–and none of them are mine! Two have been left here by my son. One was a birthday present to my husband. And one is my daughter’s cat, staying temporarily, I hope (although he’s VERY cute).
    Guess who feeds them and cleans the litter box. One guess.

  14. Todd says:

    Elena,

    I love animals, but I actually think it’s a mistake to get pets for young kids. This is based on my experience–my parents bought us a kitten when I was only two, which is too young to know how to treat a kitten. That kitten grew up to be a truly ferocious cat (no kidding, I once saw her chase a German Shepherd out of our yard), who had a deep-seated hatred of–you guessed it–small children. Better to wait until your kids are older.

    As for Cara convincing me to get another kitten–I’d love to get another kitten; but when Mousie died it was so traumatic that for a long time I’ve been thinking “Why get another pet? I’ll just grow to love it and then it will die, too!”

    As for cats loving books–my main experience was that whenever I was reading Mousie would decide that was the perfect time to climb onto my lap. (He didn’t like me to exercise, either–try doing push-ups while a cat keeps wandering underneath you.) As our friends used to say, “Cats can’t read and they don’t want you to, either!”

    Todd-who-likes-cats-but-likes-to-read-too

  15. Kalen Hughes says:

    We didn’t have all those things at once! LOL! That’s like 25 years worth the pets (and you have to remember that a large part of my childhood was on a commune).

    I’m happy with my one little doggy now (thought if I could afford it I’d have a horse still!!!!). I don’t imagine I’ll ever have another cat (severe allergies developed during those catless years in the dorms), but I can’t picture ever being without a dog (the bigger the better, I think I’m trying to make up for not having a horse).

    Oooooo, unless I could have a bob cat. I loved that bob cat.

  16. It would be like Harley to be a critic, Cara, yes. I’m sure she’s just trying to be helpful… LOL

  17. Cara King says:

    By the way, whenever I need my kitty fix, I go to YouTube and search on “kitten” or “cats” or something and watch people’s videos of their kittens being cute. It’s quite pathetic, really. Sort of like internet porn, in its own weird way. But not. 🙂

    Cara

  18. Rob says:

    My cat Brad just hopped on my lap, and is looking at the screen. He’s also now trying to lay on the keyboard and eat my fingers – needless to say this is the slowest post I’ll ever write.

    He also sits on books or newspapers. I always assumed he was reading, but had a spare set of eyes somewhere I didn’t want to go exploring.

    Seriously, I just think that cats are more social than we give them credit for, especially with folks who tend to be more sedate (no, seriously. How often do you read doing jumping jacks, or running around the house. I’m not counting treadmill reading). So when they see us focusing elsewhere, they naturally want the focus on them, thus in and around our reading materials.

    To borrow Todd’s close: Rob-who-currently-has-a-cat-head-butting-his-elbow-to-stop-his-typing

  19. Todd says:

    “Todd’s close.” I like that. I think I should trademark it. “Todd’s Close (TM).”

    Todd-who-needs-a-good-trademark-lawyer

  20. Todd says:

    Watching cute kittens on YouTube.com = internet porn. Hmm. I hope the far right don’t get hold of this idea.

    Todd-who-will-defend-to-the-death-your-right-to-watch-cuddly-kittens-in-the-privacy-of-your-own-home

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