I may be one of the best, but I am certainly not the first Professional Mews. Cats have been serving in this time-honored, traditional job for as long as there have been writers. That’s because our aura of mystery, wisdom and calm provides inspiration. And this is in addition to all our other fine qualities, such as lap-warming and mouse-hunting.
There have been many well-known, cat-loving writers over the years. Ernest Hemingway is almost as famous for his cats as for his writing. Edgar Allan Poe’s cat, Catarina, inspired his story, The Black Cat. Harriet Beecher Stowe had a cat named Calvin who sat on her shoulder as she wrote. Charles Dickens’s cat kept him company in his study and was known to snuff out his reading candle when she wanted Mr. Dickens’s attention. And Mark Twain was so fond of his many cats that he reportedly said, “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade without further introduction.” Victor Hugo, H.G. Wells, the Bronte sisters and Stephen King can also be added to the long list of authors who have worked with a feline Professional Mews.
Unfortunately, writers can be a stubborn bunch and we Professional Mewses occasionally have to take extreme measures to get their attention. As you can see, this hard-working Professional Mews had to get his paws dirty to make his point in March of 1445. (source)
And this Professional Mews had to resort to peeing on a manuscript to get his human’s attention in 1420. (source)
His human made these notes in the margin when he discovered what had happened.
Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum ostum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem uni cattie venire possunt.
When translated into English, it says:
Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.
Listen up, all you writers—although this is good advice, it would probably be easier to just listen to your Professional Mews in the first place. We’re here to help!
For bringing the 15th-century cats to my attention, I send my thanks to J. Anderson Coats, researcher extraordinaire and author of The Wicked and the Just, who writes with her own Professional Mews, Thumbkitty.