9 Famous Writers Who Loved Cats

Thursday, August 15, 2013 by

Cats are often considered reserved, independent, and graceful animals. It is no small wonder, then, that many a cat has found its human companion in the form of writers (who are often thought of as reserved, independent, and linguistically graceful humans). Check out these 9 famous writers who loved cats, and be sure to follow the Writers and Kitties tumblr for more pictures of authors with their feline friends.

1. Ernest Hemingway

hemingway and cat

Ernest Hemingway feeding his cat Christobal corn via JFK Library

Hemingway is one of the most recognizable names in American literary history. Despite his hard-edged, sparse writing style and typically masculine themes of war and violence, Hemingway was apparently a softie when it came to his cats. He owned multiple cats at any given time, including a polydactyl (6-toed) cat named Snowball.

hemingway cat typewriter

Hairy Truman, a Hemingway cat descended from Snowball. Photo via NPR.

Snowball was allowed to run wild at Hemingway’s Key West house, resulting in a colony of cats descended directly from Hemingway’s original Snowball. About half of these cats, which still are allowed to openly roam the property of the Hemingway house, are polydactyl, leading many people to call 6-toed kitties “Hemingway cats”.

2. Charles Bukowski

bukowski and cat

Hard to be tough with a cat in your lap. Photo via weimarart.blogspot.com.

Another hard-drinking literary tough guy with a straightforward writing style, Bukowski is known for his poetry, short stories, and novels which deal with the drudgery of life as a lower-class American. He may have had a bluebird in his heart , but he had cats in his home. Bukowski loved cats so much that he occasionally shirked his gritty subject matter in favor of his furry friends, as seen in his poem called “My Cats”.

3. Allen Ginsberg

ginsberg and cat

Ginsberg and his cat via Cultural Cat.

A few weeks ago, the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco paid homage to the Beat Generation’s love affair with cats in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibit of photography by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg was one of the leaders of the Beat Generation, and his 1956 poem “Howl” is among the most recognizable pieces of Beat literature. Ginsberg owned and was often photographed with his pet cats, as seen in the photo above.

4. Jack Kerouac

kerouac and cat

Kerouac and his cat via the New York Public Library’s tumblr

Another member of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac is most famous for his novel On the Road, considered by many to be the “Beat bible”. Kerouac owned several cats throughout his short life (he died at age 47 due to complications from alcohol abuse), one of which was immortalized in his novel Big Sur. The novel contains a passage in which Kerouac mourns the death of his beloved cat Tyke, who he had raised from a kitten and left with his mother in New York while he went on one of his cross-country adventures.

5. William S. Burroughs

william burroughs and cat

Burroughs with his cat Ginger. Photo via Vice.

A third (and final, as far as this list is concerned) notable figure of the Beat Generation, Burroughs wrote many postmodern novels, novellas, short stories, and essays, the most famous of which is his 1959 book Naked Lunch. More relevant to this list, however is Burroughs’ autobiographical novella The Cat Inside, which consists of vignettes reminiscing about the many cats Burroughs owned throughout his life.

6. Sylvia Plath

sylvia plath cat drawing

Drawing of a cat by Sylvia Plath via telegraph.co.uk

Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer who is best known for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar and her tragic life story (Plath suffered from depression and committed suicide at the age of 30). Plath’s life with cats is not well-documented, but they serve as the subject matter in her poem “Ella Mason and Her Eleven Cats” and in her drawing of a “Curious French cat” seen above.

7. Jean-Paul Sartre

sartre and cat

Sartre and cat via Writers and Kitties tumblr

Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher who played a major part in Marxism and 20th-century French philosophy, and whose writings are still influential on literary studies, critical theory, and sociology. Sartre’s existentialism may be heavy, but the serious Frenchman might have found solace in his adorably furry cat, pictured above. Additionally, Sartre’s writing serves as inspiration to Henri Le Chat Noir, whose depressed feline musings entertain millions on the internet.

8. Edgar Allan Poe

poe and cat

Drawing of Poe and cat via Writers and Kitties tumblr.

Famous for his macabre short stories and poems, Poe was an American author who is considered by many to be the inventor of the detective fiction genre. A cat is the central mysterious figure of his short story called “The Black Cat”, in which the spirit of a cat haunts its killer. Additionally, Poe and his wife Virginia owned a cat named Catterina.

9. Mark Twain

twain and kitten

Mark Twain with cigar and kitten via Maud Newton’s tumblr

Another giant of American literature, Mark Twain is best known for his novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as his oft-quoted humorous about life. Twain owned and adored numerous cats, and reportedly even taught some of them tricks!

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Some of Twain’s cats responding to Twain’s “Wide awake!” command. Photo via twainquotes.com

Twain provides a quote which fits perfectly as an end to this post on famous cat-lovers. Twain once wrote, “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

Do you know of any historical figures who loved cats? Have any thoughts on the ones shared here? Let us hear it in the comments below.