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Cats, grass, and writing

I don’t own a cat, but my sister does. The cat, Range, is subdued and nice to be around; it’s a typical house cat, meaning that it sometimes lightly claws me while walking across my legs and acts as if it has never seen food before while staring at my plate as I eat. It even walks across my computer keyboard sometimes, making it, in a way, another Internet cat.

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A cat on a Mac

One of the strangest things it does is eat plants, like onion tops, carrots, or peaces of house plants. Lions apparently do something similar to settle their stomachs, i.e., by eating grass. Purely carnivorous cats like lions and house cats can’t digest vegetable matter; it’s instead a way of inducing sickness to clear out the stomach.

What would be the equivalent behavior for a human, though? With writing, when I am in a funk, the solution is often just to write something way beyond my current abilities, like attempting an epic with mixed-in podcast-style narration, like I did with a short story a while back. It’s just like hitting a huge reset button, albeit one with spikes or something on it – it doesn’t feel good, but it gets me back to zero, in a good way. The random phrases and cadences in my head are cleared out.

After I got three short stories done last year, all in different styles, I was in much better position to maintain this blog more regularly. I had creative ideas (not all good ones) that were bothering me, sort of like a fur ball bothers a cat. The short stories weren’t the best things I had ever written but writing them was like cleaning an old abbey wall so that it could be repainted with a mural. I needed the diversion to Tumblr.

So maybe that was my own experience with “eating plants” like a cat or lion. I expect many other writers do something similar or have their own methods for cleaning the creative palate. In light of the discomfort, though, I find this bible verse (Isaiah 11:7) odd and kinda hilarious:

“And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”

Peace comes when lions give up their appetites for straw? I guess this would mean Nietzsche’s “blonde beast” was tamed, too, through similar painful resort to a humbler diet. Peace through pain; that seems like a good summary of new age Christianity.

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