Talking Cats in Stories: Yes or No?

Talented writers in the Cat Writers’ Association debate whether cats should have figurative or literal voices in their fiction.

“I won’t dignify that with a response.” Socks the cat via Michelle

Do you cringe when you read about a cat who communicates like people or do you enjoy imagining what a cat might say, given the chance?

A divide exists between cat fiction authors over this very issue, an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports.

Within the genre of cozy mysteries, novels that typically follow detectives in small towns, exists a world of cat mysteries. Some series — the “Joe Grey Mystery” books by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, for example — feature cats who speak to police to help solve crimes. Cats created by other authors, like Patricia Fry of the “Klepto Cat Mystery” series, most certainly do not. Fry proclaims plaintively on her website to prospective readers: “Don’t worry, there are no talking cats.”

In a third category of books, cats will speak among themselves but not to people. Whatever the case, the cats abide by the rules these authors set, sometimes in mystery series numbering over a dozen titles. Several of the cat mystery series have won awards and loyal readers.

Many members of the Cat Writers’ Association, a group that brings together authors who focus on cats in fiction and non-fiction for networking and support, write such cat mysteries. The Wall Street Journal article quotes some individuals voicing opinions on the talking-cat/silent-cat schism, and it kind of begins to look less like a polarizing dispute than an amiable disagreement.

In fact, when it gets down to it, the writers and readers adopt a to-each-his-own attitude. And when you think about it, that’s the most cat-like stance you could take.

Which do you prefer in novels with felines: talking cats or silent cats?

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