Writing at home: How to deal with cats

One of the greatest pleasures of the freelance writer’s life is the ability to work from home. The benefits are too numerous to even begin a respectable list, and if you have a plan for where to write you can get your work done and then bam! You’re home already.

But if you’re a freelance writer, chances are you have a cat. While this may provide the same amount of pleasure as working from home–and is, indeed, one of the “too numerous” pleasures of working from home–it can also be a horrible, horrible drain on productivity. So how should the writer deal with cats who come to say hello when you are deep into writing? There are a few options.

Option 1: Ignore him.

This is not a viable option nine times out of ten. Sure, he looks fine there, but as you can see I don’t even have my document open. I’m chatting with Emily and looking at some emails. He has broken me from my concentration (I assure you I really was writing just before he came along! Honest!) with his kitty wiles. Plus, before and after this photo he was doing some sort of kitty pushups, putting himself right in front of the monitor and staring at me, at times nuzzling my hand. It becomes impossible to refuse.

Which brings us to:

Option 2: Give him what he wants.

This option seems like a really good idea at the time. All he wants to do is sit on my chest, hug my neck, and purr loudly in my ear. This lasts for about two minutes. Then, he wants to jump back onto the ground (not before digging his claws into me to let me know he’s finished), jump back onto my lap, jump onto the ground again, back onto my lap, then back onto the desk, then do a quick full-speed sprint around the apartment, then back to my desk, and so on. The pestering becomes something you can’t really ignore, because he’s so right there all the time. And by this time being held is no longer what he wants.

Option 3: Close the door (not viable, not even for a second)

Totally untenable, unless you can deal with the inconsistent, non-rhythmic, constant scratching and picking at the door. Because, after all, cats are always on the wrong side of a closed door.

Option 4: Kitty jail

Your deadline is at 5pm and it’s 4:30 and you have 90 minutes’ worth of writing to do. Still, your cat pesters you. Ignoring him did not work. Giving him what he wants worked for a very short time but in the end only made things worse. He will make entirely too much noise on and around that door and you will always be able to hear it, no matter how loud you turn up your music.

This is how I invented Kitty Jail. It’s simply an overturned laundry basket on the bed. I’ve been accused of cruelty for employing this, but there are two problems with that accusation. First, that basket is super light, and if he really wanted to that cat could escape from there in no time at all. Second, my writing fills his food bowl, so he can suck it.

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