Tierra, the main character in Practically Dreaming, is an animal psychic. In writing her character, I found that I not only had to understand what motivated her, but what the animals around her wanted as well. What exactly does a cat think about?
Tierra’s cat is named Solaris, a spoiled orange ball of fluff. In my mind, I pictured him as something like a Maine Coon or a Norwegian Forest Cat. As for his personality, it is an amalgamation of many of the cats in my life.
My cats do some odd things sometimes, which just defy explanation. For example, what is the deal when a cat can go from serene to insane in about half a second? They’ll be sitting all chilled out, then the eyes go wide and they sprint from the room with the speed of light. I don’t even know if an animal psychic would be able to define that behavior!
As to the question of what cats think about when they're not sprinting about like mad creatures…I think it’s mostly sunbeams, food, sleep, and being petted. At least, that’s the way I wrote about Solaris, who always seemed to be searching out a warm place to sleep, but only after his belly was full. Here’s a little snippet from the book:
An itch on Tierra’s nose pulled her from the depths of sleep. She reached a drowsy hand up to brush something off her nose, only to be rewarded with the tickling sensation again a moment later. Finally, giving up on the idea of continued sleep, she opened her eyes. Solaris leapt up onto her chest, his solid weight squeezing an “ooof” of discomfort from her. He spun around in a circle, kneading his paws on her chest through the comforter. His fluffy bristle brush of a tail swept across her face, telling her all she needed to know about the tickle that awoke her.
The cat swatted his tail defiantly at Tierra’s face once more, surely a punishment for his nickname, which he hated. Intent on his goal, his disposition turned sweet again as he turned on his adorable charm. He spun around so he was face to face with his human, stared insistently into her eyes, and meowed. The supplication came with a clear vision of his food dish overflowing with tuna. He even sent her the image of the red label on the can. It was the premium tuna, not the cat food can. Nothing but the best for Solaris, or so he believed. He followed up his request with a more strident meow.
Tierra loved the sounds he made, from the strong, motorboat purr to the chirping, burring sounds he made when he was happy. Her favorite was his meow. It reminded her more of a rusty gate than a proper meow. Instead of “meow” or “rowr,” the cat said something sounding more like “meh-eh.” She thought it was adorable, and Solaris knew it, too. It begged the question of who exactly was in charge here; who owned who? Tierra preferred not to ponder that question for too long.
Read more about Practically Dreaming tomorrow when I write about what dogs think! And for more about the book, you can check it out here.