Author Anne Elliott, whose story “Strays” appears in the new Among Animals anthology from Ashland Creek Press, writes with three cats — six if you include the inspiration she has received from ferals in a colony in her Brooklyn neighborhood.
Angus is the most senior of the three and wears many hats. He came from the rough streets of Brooklyn, where he was the feral cat that got picked on. We discovered he liked laps very much, not to mention dogs, other cats, strangers, yarn — there is just about nothing this cat does not like. He had a crushed pelvis when we brought him in, which we did not figure out for at least a year, he was so good at hiding this old injury. But now he is healed, and his self-appointed job is to heal others and keep them company. As for my writing, his job is keeping the other pets from bothering me by bothering them. He is more of an editor-in-chief, managing office politics and getting involved where needed.
Ava is the middle one and also came from our backyard feral colony. She was a pregnant kitten when we brought her in. Now she acts as a consultant in my writing program, helping by offering me yoga instruction. I don’t always keep up with her fitness program, but I do find that a little physical exertion helps me to keep my writing flowing.
Antonio is a real hands-on junior editor. It’s hard not to get distracted by his blue eyes and constant drooling when he sits on my lap to provide live critique while I compose. Once he settles down and stops chasing the cursor, work gets done. On the plus side, his comments are always supportive. Occasionally he turns on the computer in my absence and types in edits on his own. He also acts as a teddy bear/dream consultant when I take a nap break.
I would be remiss not to include some of my favorite outdoor cats, part of our Brooklyn colony, and all bear the ear-tip mark. As editors, they remind me to be grateful and to let my mind run wild.
Anne Elliott is the author of The Beginning of the End of the Beginning, released by Ploughshares Solos in 2014. Her stories have also appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Witness, Hobart, Bellevue Literary Review, Fugue, r.kv.r.y, and others. Her story “Strays” appears in Among Animals 2: The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction.