Right now I have the matron of the house standing guard by the computer making sure I write positive things about the tribe. Gemini, who entered my life on my birthday, allows me to tap at the computer keys for just so long, then reminds me to take a break by crawling into my lap for a few strokes of her own.
The other four are off doing their own thing: Kitler is asleep on a cardboard box, a favorite spot of all cats (along with the step stool, the recycle bin and my favorite robe). The newest addition, who I call The Little Prince, has discovered the fake ficus and confuses it with real greenery. He doesn't know it, but he's going to the vets in two weeks to become a eunuch.
Cats are great companions for older, single women. We are quiet, move slowly (especially in the morning), have soft voices and time to cuddle. They are purfect for writers because they love it when we stay in one place for hours and they can doze nearby. When we move, they reluctantly relocate. When we explain our plot frustrations, they listen intently. When we need them, they knead us.
I live in a small, rural town where cats are still considered farm animals. People aren't inclined to spay or neuter so the neighborhood is over-run with strays. I have fixed as many as I can catch with the help of my sister (also a crazy cat lady). Strays are welcome to eat kibble and sleep on blankets I keep on the porch for cold nights. This does not endear me to the neighbors, who feel if ignored, the cats will go away. I don't believe starvation is an option.
Although there is no love for cats here, the local shelter puts cats on a train and sends them to San Francisco to a no-kill shelter. I've been told that pet stores no longer “sell” cats in the Bay Area, people are encouraged to give a home to shelter kitties. I hope that's true.
The running joke at mystery conference is “Never kill a cat.” Don't laugh. I wrote a nasty letter to Joe Konrath for doing exactly that in his first book. I had to put down THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO because a cat was tortured and dismembered. If that's a spoiler, I don't care.
Before I close, I want to explain Kitler's name. There is a website called “Kitler Cats,” one of the funniest sites ever. These are cats with a distinctive mustache.