The first page of the Peterborough Chronicle, ca. CE 1150. (Paw prints courtesy of Steve Halls, clker.com)
Cats walking across keyboards at inconvenient moments feels like such a modern annoyance. But the history of cats disrupting people’s writing is a long and storied one, with documented cases dating as far back as the 15th Century,
when some elegant feline in Dubrovnik, Croatia dipped its paws in ink and then delicately trod across a just-completed manuscript page. Since at the time everything still had to be written by hand, it was too costly to start over and the scribe had to press on to the next page, leaving the paw prints perfectly preserved for 500 years.
It’s little anecdotes like this that can be fun to sprinkle through stories, as they make the world messier, more alive, and closer to our lived experiences. Which in turn draws us closer to the characters. Because every cat co-habitant has felt that poor scribe’s distress.
I’m looking forward to slipping this detail into a story as soon as the opportunity arises.