Animals in Our Lives
Anne’s cat brings laughter to her life. When she suggested a blog post about animals in our lives, I decided to explore how animal companions influence creativity. Friends say their dogs or cats bring laughter and joy, help them relax, and reduce their stress.
Talking to a pet is a practice in creativity. You provide or imagine both sides of the conversation. For those of us without pets, this also works with teddy bears.
Dogs help the mind roam freely by getting their humans out for a walk. Separate studies show that walking (regardless of setting) and natural settings boost creative thought. Cats, on the other hand, support the deep focus our arts require. Muriel Spark writes in A Far Cry from Kensington:
“Alone with the cat in the room where you work . . . the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. . . . And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost.”
4/2/2018 08:53:54 am
Having never NOT had cats in the house, I can't attest to the influence either way because I only know it one way.
4/4/2018 09:10:55 am
HA! Well, aside from the fact that it's not an option to take a cat to a cabin, and assuming I'd be alone at this hypothetical self-imposed retreat, yes, I think I'd miss my GoGo Boots, who is always around. If this was a sort of retreat with other people, friends or otherwise, I'd miss her a lot less.
4/4/2018 06:12:44 pm
Sarah, dear dear facebook just reminded me of my post of April 4, 2012. "My horoscope for today says I am likely to be unable to concentrate very well. I guess GoGo Boot's horoscope is to keep subordinates on task, whatever it takes, even if it's the supreme sacrifice of curling up on my lap and appearing to be sound asleep so I am forced to stay here... And you thought being self-employed means we can set our own schedule. Ha."
Ha! Lisa, that's a step beyond the tranquility of a cat under the desk lamp. Cats enforce focus and concentration by curling on your lap so you can't give way to distractions. I love it.
4/5/2018 08:30:47 am
Doris's bio says she "lives with three distracting cats." So maybe they are not always a good thing. On the other hand, Re: Dog. A future post of yours could be about the benefits of wearing a FitBit (or Apple Watch) while working, vibrating once every hour to say "Take me for a stroll!"
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.