Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of cat-parody poetry by Susan C. Willett of the blog Life With Dogs and Cats. It’s our most recent addition to other cat humor features such as Angie Bailey’s Texts From Mittens. We hope it’s also the beginning of a long relationship between Susan and Catster.
Cats are natural poets. And the haiku form is a natural fit for them. Consider:
They say a lot with a little. A flick of the ear, a squinty eye, and a slight tail twitch are all that is needed to inform you of their extreme displeasure at the slow meal service in your establishment. That or several dozen plaintive meows.
They are enigmatic and deep. With paws tucked underneath, tail wrapped around a compact body, and eyes closed, you know they are meditating on the most profound and mystical secrets of the universe — like how to open the cat food tins without thumbs and how to capture once and for all that elusive red dot.
They are ancient souls with tales to tell. Ancient Egyptians revered cats; perhaps our feline friends and family are trying to recapture their rightful places among humans — or maybe they already have.
Based on a type of ancient Japanese verse, haiku in English is written in just three lines, with a pattern based on syllables: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third and final line.
The challenge is to capture a feeling, a moment, a thought, in those three short lines. Kind of like Twitter, only deeper.
The form is perfect for cats, who like the multi-layered hidden meanings within the haiku form — and want to finish a poem quickly so they can go take another nap.
Dawn is one of four poet cats, who live with three poet dogs (see their work on our sister site Dogster), who write haiku. Here are a few of her poems.
Like many cats, Dawn likes to keep her humans guessing. It’s part of the deal between people and kitties; life would be boring if you always knew what your cat wanted. Unless it’s food. But not that kind, the other kind. Or maybe not.
Sometimes Dawn likes to hide under the dresser. Other times, she attains new heights and is quite proud of her achievement. Until she realizes there’s a downside to her accomplishment.
When I have displeased her, when my mere presence is more than can be borne, Dawn will turn her back on me. But she’ll keep at least one ear tuned toward the possibility of the snack drawer opening. Because you never know.
Check back on Catster for more Haiku by Cat in the coming weeks, featuring Athena, her dilute tortoiseshell littermate, and the black-and-white sibling kitties of the house: Calvin and Elsa Clair. Expect new poetry by cats every other Tuesday. You also can read Haiku by Dog over on Dogster.
If your cat could write haiku, what would it be? Go ahead, give it a shot in the comments.
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About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with three dogs and four cats (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans — all of whom provide inspiration for her work. Refusing to take sides in the interweb’s dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home — like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Lilah, Jasper, and Tucker (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by DogÔäó, Haiku by CatÔäó, and Dogs and Cats Texting.