Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I'm Not a Fan of Cat Stories

In our guidelines ( we state several hard sells, or stories that we see too much of, don't particularly enjoy, and that you'll have to work extra hard as a writer to overcome the eyerolling reaction of our staff when they appear in our slush pile.

Cat stories are one of these.

I will not gloss over the truth. For me, this is one reason:

Yes, I am a dog person.

I am as prejudiced against cats as cat people are against dogs, and neither of us understand people who would have both, nor people who would have neither.

But to be fair, I'm not a huge fan of dog stories either.  In fact, I'm not really a fan of any story in which the point of view character is not a human or an intelligent alien.  That includes babies.  Babies are hardly intelligent and barely human.

And don't get me started on humans trapped in a dog/cat body.  Just don't.

But this post isn't about dogs or babies or aliens.  It's about cats.

We see far more cat stories than dog stories.  You see a lot more cat hoarders, too.  Yeah, yeah.  We had a crazy cat lady down the street when I was growing up.  Didn't we all?  No one ever said anything about the crazy dog lady.

What does that say about cat people?  That dog people don't love their furry companions as much as cat people?  That cat people are crazier about their beloved pets than dog people?  Or that cat people are just crazy?

But let's put all that prejudice aside and talk facts.

In 2012, only 30% of American households owned cats.  (36.5% owned dogs, despite the fact that dogs were costlier to keep healthy--more than $100 greater annual expenditure in veterinary costs. But that's just me gloating.  Dog person, remember?)  What that tells me is that 70% of the population doesn't really care about cat stories because they either don't care for cats or because, well, they're human.

That's the crux of it.  Cats are not human.  Humans (especially humans who don't care for cats) have a difficult time empathizing with a cat.  Lack of empathy translates directly to lack of interest in the fiction world.

In very practical terms, despite my own dislike of cats and cat stories, it's bad business to publish a story that only 30% of my readership is likely to give a cat's behind about.  And at only 36.5%, that's the reason I'm not likely to be attracted to a dog story either.

Especially stories about little dogs.  But that's another prejudice for another day.


Anonymous said...

From an animal lover's POV, cats and dogs of all sizes are awesome. Guinea Pigs awesome. Ferrets and doplins? My goodness, they are super!

As for the post, I completely agree. I actually don't run into cat stories as often like everyone else, but I do wonder why people write them. Maybe it's a T.S. Elliot thing?

By the way, humans aren't too fond of cats because they don't try to please the human. Fido seeks affection, Mittens is cool with it either way.

Suzanne Vincent said...


I do have to confess that I own a cat book that I enjoyed very, very much.

But it's by Terry Pratchett, which makes it okay.