While I was writing Willow the Vampire and the Sacred Grove, I kept thinking how writers through the ages have been fascinated with the transformation of humans into some form of animal – from werewolves in horror and gothic stories to bats and wolves in vampire fiction, from geese, fish, hawks and other critters in T H White’s The Once and Future King (published 1958, written between 1938 and 1941) to the big black dog and rat in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books, where wizards can change their appearance.
So what creature of the night would I be, if a Merlin-type magician came along and granted me that wish? Hm…probably a cat…not because I’m so vain that I regard myself as sleek, elegant and graceful enough to fill the paws of such an animal, that’s for sure!
If anything, I’m rather the opposite of everything cats stand for…plump, middle-aged and probably a little scruffy, given that I’m a full time writer with little time to spare for dressing up or money in the bank to stay on top of the latest fashions.
No, it would be because cats lead such interesting lives. Cat owners who have fitted miniature cameras to their cats’ collars have been amazed how large a territory our kitties patrol during their nocturnal ramblings. Forever curious about the world, cats investigate everything in their path and never get bored. Every day is exciting.
Domestic cats that have gone feral can have huge hunting territories of a 25 km radius or more. They hunt rabbits as big as themselves and far from living a lonely hunter’s life often team up with other feral cats and live in a “pride” like lions.
Any cat owner who’s ever tried to outstare their cat will know that it is impossible. What are these enigmatic beasties thinking about? Do they dream? Have they formed their own philosophy about life, the world and us?
Since ancient Egyptians first domesticated cats in their grain stores and temples, the cat has been our reluctant companion. Becoming a feline for just one night might explain to me why my own cat loved to sit on my keyboard the very moment I settled down to do some work or why she couldn’t find a better place to sharpen her claws on than the folder with my latest work, or my leg, my chair or writing desk. Was she trying to tell me she didn’t like my writing or was this just a little teasing to get my attention?
If you bumped into Merlin or a fairy godmother with a wish to grant, what creature of the night would you like to be?