New ideas for characters, all wrapped up and ready to be written about, present themselves when you read about strange things in the news. Never would I have thought about creating a character who believed she was a cat, at least not until I ran across this gem—The Slippery Slope Is Here: Woman Says She Was Born A Cat. . .
The video is not in English, but there are English subtitles. It is worth watching.
Watching the first video and reading the article made me wonder, how would a writer convince the reader that a character truly believes she is a cat? Let’s face it, the lady in the video did not convince me of anything except that she wanted to attract attention.
Now, if you have a character that believes she is a cat, how would she really act? What traits would she display? Basically, how many cat-like actions would she need to exhibit to make your reader believe that she wasn’t just putting on an act?
I have had cats ever since I was married in 1984. From observing the way my cats have behaved over the years, I have some suggestions as to how someone who really believed she was a cat would behave.
Most cats have an aversion to water. There could be some breeds of cats that kind of like water, but I have never had any of those. So, would your character who believed she was a cat in a human body takes baths or showers? Or would she clean herself like a cat does? Would her aversion to water make others want to stay away from her? How would she feel about washing dishes? Would her intense dislike of water cause her to insist on using a dishwasher?
Cats are intelligent animals. If a cat was born in a human body, it would have the ability to walk on two legs instead of four. The cats that live with me would definitely take advantage of that. The only time they would get on their hands and knees would be before jumping onto a surface that was way up above them.
If a cat was born in a human body, I doubt it would eat hard cat food. Canned cat food is a possibility, but my bet would be that it would prefer meat. A cat is a carnivore. Raw meat would be a favorite, and cooked meat might be tolerated.
Cats are very playful. They will chase just about anything that moves. Wad up a piece of paper, throw it across the floor, and the game is on. My cats also love to chase the beam of light from a flashlight. Would a person who believed herself to be a cat in a human body do the same? Would any moving object capture her attention and cause her to give chase?
The desire to chase mice, chipmunks, rabbits, and just about any other little rodent or bird would be ingrained. Of course, a cat in a human body wouldn’t have a tail to swish back and forth as the preparation to pounce was being made, but still, the chase would be on. And if the rodent or bird was caught, it would be all over. The kill would be shown off to family members or whoever the human cat was living with. Then the catch would be disposed of in a very feline way: it would be eaten. I’m sure the human half would try and wait to maybe use a knife and fork, but feline instincts would prevail.
Cats love empty boxes. Any empty box sitting on the floor is asking to be climbed in, curled up in, slept in. Would your human-feline attempt to crawl inside any empty box laying around?
Would a cat born in a human body require a huge litter box? No. The toilet would be used. The ingrained response to scratch the surrounding area after using the bathroom could be so strong though that a scratching board would be placed on the wall right next to the toilet.
In case your character feels that she is a leopard or some other wild cat, the ground around the area where she relieved herself would probably still be scratched at.
When it comes to making friends, cats are extremely cautious animals, and it takes them quite a while—weeks or months—to completely accept a new cat. Maybe this a trait more humans should adopt. Anyway, your character would be the same way when it comes to making friends. Most would see her as standoffish, but once a person has been deemed worthy of friendship, this person will have earned a friend for life.
This raises the question: would a person who believed herself to be a cat allow someone to interview and/or film her? Cats long for attention, yes, but only from those they know well. Would your human-feline wear a fake tail and ears? These accessories would have no function. They would only get in the way and attract unwanted attention. I seriously doubt that a character who was convinced she was a cat would wear anything like that.
This phenomenon is not just limited to females. The dude in the video below believes that he is a leopard.
Did this guy convince me that he was really a leopard? No. I did wonder something though. Did he go looking for someone to make a video about him?
First, of course, create a character who believes she is a cat in a human body. She has all the traits that your average cat has. Then a family that raises dogs buys the house and property next to where she lives. As if that isn’t bad enough, while she is up late one night, she notices them carrying in cages with cats inside. What are they up to? Her feline curiosity will not let her rest until she finds out.
Now create a character who believes he is a leopard, panther, lion, or some other breed of wild cat. Was he perhaps born in the jungle or the woods? Like Mowgli from The Jungle Book, was he kept alive by wild cats but rescued before he was very old? How does he act when living around humans?
Does anyone else have any more ideas? Please feel free to post them in the comments.