Pat Wahler, Author

Penning stories to savor.

Cats or Dogs?

While crawling around on the floor after a stack of papers fell and scattered helter-skelter all over, Bogey took his place next to my sculpture of Mark Twain. Sphynx-like, he watched as I scrambled around picking up my mess.

The bronze bust of Twain is a work that came from a very talented local artist and friend of mine named Don Wiegand, and it has been sitting beside my desk for years.

He who is above mundane activities, and I'm not talking about Mark Twain.

He who is above mundane activities. (I’m not referring to Mark Twain).

I’ve long been an admirer of Twain, and I think most people enjoy reading his works. He created some of the literary world’s most unforgettable characters such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

What do I like about Mark Twain? For one thing, he’s a born and bred writer from my home state of Missouri. For another, unlike many authors of his era, his talent brought him a great deal of success and fame during his lifetime. That’s much more pleasant than being recognized only after you’re gone. Finally, his words had a distinctive humor, often slyly skewering the people in power who saw themselves as better than the average guy.

With Bogey posing so happily next to the sculpture, I decided to avoid a writing project and search the internet to read a few articles about Mark Twain. I discovered something I didn’t know.

Twain apparently had a lifelong love affair with cats. I’d already heard stories about Ernest Hemingway and his beloved extra-toed kitties, but had no idea Mark Twain also favored felines to the degree that he often had more than a dozen living in his residence at a time.

He respected his cats enough not to give them ordinary names. No “Fluffy” or “Puff” among them. Instead they were given impressive monikers such as Bambino, Sour Mash, Zoraster, Beelzebub, and Blatherkite.

Even when traveling, Twain preferred to keep himself in the company of cats. If he couldn’t bring along one or two kitties of his own, he’d find a nearby farm and rent kittens. I can only imagine the surprise of a nineteenth century farmer upon being asked if he’d rent kittens to Mark Twain for a few days. The farmer must have thought Mr. Twain had extreme phobias over mice.

Twain drew inspiration from cats. Not surprisingly, he wrote about them, too.

Here are a few gems by Mark Twain on the subject.

A pile of Mark Twain kittens.

A furry pile of Mark Twain kittens. (Photo by Elisha M. VanAken, 1887)

“I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.”

“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is a cat has only nine lives.”

“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

There are some who suggest that the world is divided in two very distinct camps. There are those who love dogs, and those who love cats. If anyone asked me to pick sides, I’d be like Switzerland, with one foot in each.

I have no doubt at all where Mark Twain would pitch his tent.

How about it? On which side do you stand?

Mark Twain and friend.

Mark Twain and friend.

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18 Comments

  1. Two French Bulldogs

    October 12, 2016 at 10:34 am

    We love seeing vintage pet pictures. Doggies of course
    Snorts,
    Lily & Edward

    • Well, I love both. Dogs are silly, loyal and able to read human emotions. Cats are rambunctious, cunning and snugglers. Hard to choose. I am a pet parent of both.

      • Pat Wahler

        October 12, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Hi Sheree! They each have qualities that endear them to me. I’m counting you as Switzerland.

    • Pat Wahler

      October 12, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Hello to Lily, Edward, and Mom! I was pretty sure I knew which camp you would choose. Paws up for vintage pet pictures.

  2. Linda O'Connell

    October 12, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    I can’t decide. I love both, well just about any fur baby. I guess I am partial to kittens. But love puppies, too. They require a little more work. I’m with Sam. I’d rent a kitten if I had to.

    • Pat Wahler

      October 12, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Hi Linda! Renting certainly would make life a little easier when traveling, wouldn’t it? No need to find a pet sitter.

  3. I am on the fence. I desperately love my dogs and that they keep me active (I would not get up at 5:30 to walk without them) but I loved my cats too. I really miss them. I want both!

  4. I enjoy Twain’s writing and I love his quotes on cats.

    • Pat Wahler

      October 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Welcome Ellen! Twain’s writing is amazing isn’t it? Some of the things he penned are very relevant to what’s going on in the political world today.

  5. Pat–I’m in Switzerland too. Both are delightful in their own way…

  6. Lynn M. Obermoeller

    October 13, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Since I have two cats, I guess I’m more of a cat person, but I never was that way. I wasn’t much of an animal lover at all in the sense that I had to have a pet. I loved them from a distance. I always had bad experiences with animals–some fear of them and they sensed it and acted accordingly. But now, well, I do love both dogs and cats, but seem to be more partial to my little darlings. Smeagol (the 13 year old that we’ve had since a baby) is a brat. Really. He’s not a people or an animal person, but I see his loving side. He does like Kitty though, so that’s a plus (and why we took her in).

    • Pat Wahler

      October 13, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Lynn! Cats certainly have unique personalities and definitely show their softer side to the ones they love.

      By the way, congrats to your daughter. Her sculptures were amazing!

  7. What a beautiful bust, the artist is very talented.
    I think a lot of authors favour cats over dogs, they are a compatible companion for someone who likes to be quiet and write.
    I personally love cats and dogs but developed an asthma and an allergy to cats in my 30’s.
    Lynne x

    • Pat Wahler

      October 17, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Lynne! You are so right, although not all cats are very quiet. Bogey sometimes drives me to the edge…he’s extremely talkative, and loves to make sure I hear him.

  8. I like both. I couldn’t choose between them.
    Ann

    • Pat Wahler

      October 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Ann! They are both irresistible to me as well, with each having qualities that keep their humans happy.

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