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I want to write a short story from the perspective of a cat who wants to kill a bird that extremely annoys her. Just like Tom is trying every time to kill Jerry or do something to him. However, I don't know where to start and how do I make it look like a cat's perspective.

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    Remember that cats assume they are gods. I'm also kind of reminded of the fable of the wolf and the lamb, with the moral that tyrants need no excuse. – Michael Aug 21 '17 at 14:10
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    @Michael, how do you 'know' that cats assume they are gods? From the way we interpret their behaviour? From their "lack of intelligence compared to us"? I'm not saying your input is invalid, but you state it as fact, which... well, triggers me. Sorry (: – storbror Aug 22 '17 at 6:19
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    @FraEnrico, I disagree with this question being a duplicate of your mentioned question. Yes it's about portraying a creature without necessarily mentioning its species (or necessarily other species) but it's unique in the way that it aims to portray a perspective we actually do not know. – storbror Aug 22 '17 at 7:41
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    As someone who owns 6 cats, I suggest if you don't have any pet cats, your best bet is to watch videos and do some reading on cats. Particularly how cats hunt and prowl if you are interested to creating a tom and jerry like story. You won't be able to 100% a cat's perspective, but you can infer through research and study the nature of a cat and personify that so that the story can be something humans would enjoy to read. Remember, humans took one of the most deadly hunters on earth, and domesticated them into cute little fluff balls. That doesn't change the fact of what they were though. – ggiaquin16 Aug 22 '17 at 16:14
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    @storbror I keep my jokes to comments for that reason! :) – Michael Aug 22 '17 at 21:10
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Adding to @MarkBaker's and @Liquid's answers.

I would start out with a kind of overview of the writing project.

The more questions you can answer about your story and its contents, the more sure of its purpose you'll be. The more likely you probably also are to finish it.

Story elements

  • What is the main story you want to tell - what goals and feelings do you want to portray/activate?

  • What makes a cat's perspective interesting compared to a human's? I find the idea interesting, but others might not.

  • What challenges does the character come across?

  • What advantages and disadvantages do cats have to obtaining the goal?

Species aside, we want to relate to the "personality" of any creature that we read a story about.

Then, assuming you still think the project makes sense, focus on how YOU want to portray the perspective of another animal, even though we understand everything in the story from a human perspective/perception of the world.

Are we supposed to hear it's "thoughts"?

  • if so, how does a cat think?

The bird (or what you think the cat would call it) "lives" here. I must see it soon.

The bird (or what you think the cat would call it) "lives" here. I must see it soon.

  • Is that too primitive? Is it too advanced?

Edit 1: Repetition was on purpose. If a mind is very focused, it's likely to repeat the goals and the logic surrounding that goal - does a cat do that?

Also, perhaps "We must see it soon" could be another depiction of how a cat "sees itself", if you want to portray it as elevated from other forms of life - like we refer to royals.

Play around with different forms of internal and external communication and see how they feel.

Cat vs human: Ideologies and ideals.

Cats, and the 'personalities' we assign them, are based on how we would classify a human, if that human acted the way the cat does. Perhaps study/research 'social' patterns of cats in general. Is there a hierarchy among cats? Is it clear what that hierarchy is based on?

Bonus: Make your story more unique

If you're up for the challenge and feel sufficiently creative; make up your own socials dilemmas that a cat could be facing:

  • Am I truly the great hunter I'm expected to be?
  • Is my territory attractive to potential partners/mates?

Making up your own in-world dilemmas can add to the immersion, and also make your story more unique and well-rounded. The more human you make the cat, the better we'll relate to it and its challenges. Giving your main character 'flaws' could make her the underdog of the (cat-)society she's placed in.

Trick:

Give the cat a name, and do not let it refer to itself as a cat - We rarely refer to ourselves as humans in our thoughts, and the cat is unlikely to speak. That way, we (the audience) will focus on how the story itself works. Some readers might even think "This character reminds me of my cat". Most probably won't, but this is about a story, not about a cat.

Perhaps have a few beta-readers who read part of it before being told that it's about a cat.

Regarding @Liquid's comment on this answer: Naming could work differently in the cat-world. Perhaps she knows the name her owner has given her - if she has an owner.

You could also make your own system which cats use to identify themselves and others. It COULD be based on a hierarchy (or similar) that you create. Again; just an idea.

Warning:

Once you give your character a name, it will very quickly become difficult for you to change. That name will BE that character.

Note:

I find this sort of writing challenge very interesting and will edit this answer if/when I think of more question that could help guide you in portraying your character(s) the way you desire.

Good luck!

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    Good answer, you pointed out some project/story building tips that I had left out. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Aug 22 '17 at 8:18
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    Also, you reminded me of a quote from Coraline, by Neil Gaiman: “What's your name,' Coraline asked the cat. 'Look, I'm Coraline. Okay?' 'Cats don't have names,' it said. 'No?' said Coraline. 'No,' said the cat. 'Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names.” – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Aug 22 '17 at 8:19
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    That's a nice reference. I'm adding something in my answer now! – storbror Aug 22 '17 at 8:37
  • @Liquid Wow, this answer is getting long. wipes forehead with back of hand. – storbror Aug 22 '17 at 9:05
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    Let's hope Irene finds it useful, lol. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Aug 22 '17 at 9:25
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Study a bit how cats (supposedly) see the world, how they behave, and so on.

First of all, you should read a bit about cat vision. After all, you are going to describe the world from a cat point of view. From my first shallow research, it seems that cats are good to see at low light hours, like dawn/nightfall and night (obvious enough); they should have lower sensibility on colors (even if here scientists seem to disagree) and higher periphereal vision.

The other senses are important as well and can help you give the feeling of the point of view of a predatory animal.

Regarding cat behaviour, you can do a similar research. E.g. cats are less active during daytime, they like to sleep on relatively high places (rather than the ground), they have certain cleaning habits, they mark their territory in certain ways ... whatever can help.

Of course you are going to give the cat human-like qualities - since cats aren't supposed to have self-awareness - but that is to be expected. How should you play this, however, is entirely up to you.

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Remember that all stories are told from a human perspective. Cats don't have grammar and they don't have stories. A cat's eye story, therefore, is an act of projection of the human into the cat. It is a human experience of a uniquely human ability: the ability to project themselves imaginatively into others, including animals. This ability is at the root of our capacity for sympathy and our love of stories. For a great example of this kind of projection, read The Once and Future King.

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    @AugustCanaille Animal farm is a allegory. Real pigs do not think like that or see the world like that. You can't tell a story from an animal's perspective because animals don't tell stories. Animals in animal stories stand in for humans. Have you read Watership Down. Do you think rabbits really think like that? Do you think that was the authors intent? – user16226 Aug 21 '17 at 18:19
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    @AugustCanaille You are missing the point. The point is that when you tell a story through the eyes of an animal it is a human mind, not an animal mind, that is looking through those eyes. The point of such stories is not to see the world as an animal mind sees the world, but to create an alternate platform to examine the world as the human sees it, to sharpen focus by changing perspective. Your character may have an animal nose and animal paws, but they have a human mind. – user16226 Aug 22 '17 at 10:25
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    There is no reason one could not try to emulate an animal mind. And, frankly, we don't KNOW how they do or do not think. – Weckar E. Aug 22 '17 at 10:46
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    @WeckarE.If we do not know how they think, then there is every reason not to try to portray how they think. How do you show what you have not seen? But the problem is much more technical than than. It is not just seeing through their eyes, but telling a story through their eyes. And storytelling is uniquely human. Storytelling requires grammar and only humans have grammar. As soon as you start telling a story, therefore, you are doing something only a human mind can do, and therefore not portraying an animal mind. – user16226 Aug 22 '17 at 10:52
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    If we wrote a story about the daily life of a cat, 90% of the dialog would be, sleep sleep sleep, OH MOUSE, CHASE CHASE CHASE, YUMMY, sleep sleep sleep sleep. So we personify animals based on personality traits to create stories that humans can relate to. A book written like the above dialog for 100 pages would get old fast. I also think you are taking the OP too literal. They need to watch videos of how cats hunt, how they interact with the world to be able to understand a cat and how they act. Just because it is a human's brain doesn't mean you can't draw an understanding of action. – ggiaquin16 Aug 22 '17 at 16:08
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To write a cat's perspective of things is indeed interesting. However, how much you empower your cat is in your control. In fictional mode, you can even make the cat to be like Tom or Claw (Game) or the cat from Stuart Little. The first step would ideally be to determine the character specific details, how, what, when, to set a routine of the cat's behaviour. Some questions that you could answer while writing: - does the cat have special powers? - what kind of company the cat likes to keep? - why is the bird annoying the cat? - how did they first meet? What caused the irritation?

Pick up from these hints to build your story. Be as descriptive as possible and while you edit, you could choose to keep what suits best.

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I think I might be rephrasing what @MarkBaker says, but perhaps stating it differently would be helpful, especially since he seems to have attracted some antagonism.

You're telling a story. What is your story about? No, it's not about "a cat chasing a bird". What's it about at its core? Is it about hunter and prey? Is it about the futility of chasing an unattainable goal? What idea(s) do you want to express or explore?

What your story is about defines how you tell it. When Seton Thompson wrote The Pacing Mustang, for example, he wrote a story about freedom. He recognised that freedom and an indomitable spirit in the mustang, and then he focused on it and exaggerated it. A real horse might stop eating, but it won't commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. The story you want to tell is bound up with the character who tells it.

Once you know what your story is about, you know who your character is - what kind of "person" your cat is. (Or vice versa - if you know the "person", you know the story.) From there, you'd need to add decoration to convince us that this "person" is a cat: the smell of things, the sensation of pouncing - all the physical attributes of the experience of being a cat. The senses your character has are those of a cat, and its body is that of a cat. Study cats, so you can transmit that realistically. But its emotions, its thoughts, its experience of concepts like "love", "responsibility", "freedom" etc. - those are human. They are merely wrapped up in a cat's body, presumably for the purpose of making some attribute sharper than it would have been otherwise.

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Watch. A. Cat!

The best way to gain a cat's eye view is to follow one around and watch what they do. Alternatively, cameras.

See how they react to sounds, smells, movement, surprises, interaction with other creatures of all types.

Cats have distinct individual personalities, as well as a racial society. Interestingly enough, house cats have a matriarchal society, unlike the prides of larger cats.


Obviously, anthropomorphism to a degree is unavoidable, unless our until someone manages to crack animal communication or learns telepathy.

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