Cats and Christmas Trees!

Cats and Christmas trees By Mary Jo Cats have been around since time immemorial and Christmas trees became popular in the mid-19th century, when Victoria and Albert introduced the German custom of decorating trees into the British royal palaces and from there to most of the English speaking world. (In other words, they went viral. <G>) And if Victoria had a cat, it probably climbed her tree.  But cameras, especially easy to use cell phone cameras, have really helped cats in Christmas trees become a true internet meme. (The image of the black and fallen tree is from Facebook and …

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The joy of animal companions!

DogsNicola here talking about animal companions. Something I’ve noticed quite a lot during lockdown is the number of people who have been getting a dog to keep them company. The prices of pedigree puppies have soared; lots of people have posted excitedly on social media about the pleasure of getting new pets. It’s wonderful if caring for an animal has brought people the benefit of companionship, exercise and uncritical love (maybe not in the case of cats) but this did also set off some warning bells for me.

We all know that a pet is forever not just for Lockdown.

There is no doubt, though, that the antics of various animals have lifted the spirits of a lot of us. My new favourite online stars are Dandies
Olive and Mabel
, two Labradors belonging to the sports commentator Andrew Cotter. His deadpan commentaries of their various activities are very funny and the dogs are utterly adorable. Lots of people have dropped into my Facebook page to see various photos and videos of Angus as we go out and about together, and my writing friend Kate Hardy is posting a diary of her progress training her new spaniel puppy, Dexter. I spend a lot longer that I should watching cute cat videos on Twitter and I’m sure there are plenty of other pets out there doing wonderful cheering things – rabbits, ferrets, even fish making their owners happy.

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Cats and Writers, with examples

Singi disapproving

My writer cat, Singi

Joanna here: Just a small blog today, about writers and cats.

Writers and cats are rather ham and eggs, Laurel and Hardy, beans and franks partners. Obvious buddies.

There must be a reason for it. Some cats are obviously born with printers' ink under their claws.

I think it’s because writers sit for long periods of time not doing anything exciting like pounding in nails or cutting hair or making fine adjustment to the sniper scopes on precision rifles. They go typetypetypetype typetypetypetype typetypetypetype typetypetypetype and then sit for several minutes staring into the middle distance.

This is pretty much what cats do, allowing for an absence of taWench twainpetty tap tap.


“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering, outspoken fellow, but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.
     Mark Twain


That's a high compliment from Twain there. A good writer never says a word too much.

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Creatures great and small

Wench Marguerite GérardJoanna here, talking about one of the minor constants in my books.

I love me some animals. All kinds, from wild tigers to tame kitty cats. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Also parrots and penguins. The feistier they are, the better I like them. I try to put a pet as a character in each of my books because they are arguably an improvement over humans.

Spymaster’s Lady introduces us to Tiny, the huge black dog that guards the house. Annique calls him that "monster dog that stalks the halls, slavering and famished, seeking human flesh." She considers Tiny, not so much a dog, as "a wolf and possibly also part elephant." Annique is not one of the world's dog fanciers. But then, she spent her innocent girlhood sneaking into houses and stealing secrets. This gives one an ambivalent relationship with guard dogs.Wench Mrs. D. le B. Bennett

Doyle found Tiny wandering by the London docks. "We think it's part wolfhound." Perhaps Tiny is the result of a mésalliance between an Irish wolfhound and a Newfoundland. They're both ancient breeds, becoming fairly widespread by the early Nineteenth Century. A cross between the two could plausibly have shown up in a cosmopolitan seaport like London. It would be one formidable dog.

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