10 November 2007

Here a cat, there a cat, everywhere a Werecat

I love cats. I love their sounds, their touch, the subtle brush of their tail as they stalk past on quiet feet. Beings of quiet mystery, they entertain me and stimulate my creativity just being around them.

Cats are the masters of passive aggresive. When they want attention, they're just as likely to use a cold shoulder and a turned back to get it as to jump in your lap and headbutt you into a cuddle.
Family allergies have made us a dog house, and though I adore dogs as well it is a different love. A more boisterous, in your face, I'll lick you until you pay attention to me sort of love.

When I sat down to write my first shapeshifter story, I didn't even debate what sort of animal my Chimaga would be shifting into for their moonlit runs. The cougar jumped into my mind, and from the first few sentances I knew who these people were. Their animals were a part of them from the beginning.

I need to find a way out─now! The desperate thought chased Nilana through the night.

Behind her, she sensed the pair of cougars drawing closer. The warrior and the shaman hunted her tirelessly, their paws passing without sound over the rock-strewn canyon bottom. *

Different cultures had werecat folklore from before written history. These were fables and stories based on the cats native to a particular land. In Asia, there were tigers - portrayed as a cattle eating sorcerer in India, and a protective spirit in Malasia. European werecats were more often giant housecats, and usually considered witches. And the Americas, long before Columbus, had were-jaguars and were-cougars.

Today werecats have become a thing of fiction. In movies (Sleepwalkers and Night Watch), TV (Manimal), and books (the Anita Blake series, The Southern Vampire series), shapeshifting cats take the center stage. They entertain, they thill, and they appeal to a purely animalistic side of their fans.

And to me, there's nothing like that quiet moment when feline eyes meet your own in an unblinking stare of mysterious communication. I'll never know what is going on behind those beautiful eyes. But they're an endless source of inspiration and wonder.

*Excert from Hunting the Huntress, coming January 8, 2008 from Samhain Publishing
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