and other animals
Cats are prolific in cozies, and if it's not a cat, there's often a dog. Sometimes there are even both, or some other animal. Maybe Carolyn Hart started the cat craze in cozies. I'm not sure, but I know it was years ago when I started reading her books. Her character, Annie Darling, had a cat named Agatha in her mystery bookstore. Amanda Flower's character, India Hayes, has a cat in her series; Lorna Barrett's character, Tricia, has a cat in her Booktown series; while Krista Davis's character,Sophie, has both a cat and a dog in her Diva mysteries. And then there were the Cat Who . . . series. I'll admit I tired of them after a while. There are only so many times I could read about a cat licking its private parts. I didn't think the plots were strong enough to endure that.
Although pets aren't just in cozies, by any means, they are more likely to appear there. Maybe it's because readers of this genre are looking for something a little less threatening than a police procedural or thriller. And maybe it's because writers of this genre have cats or dogs. I know most, if not all, of the authors I mentioned have cats, dogs or both.
In my opinion, there are several reasons why authors include animals in their books:
One: Writing is a solitary life. The writer needs to isolate themselves as much as possible to write, and unless the writer has another job with social interactions, or an active family living with them, it could be a lonely life. A pet can alleviate some of that loneliness. Enter the cat or dog. They're a companion, and they sleep a lot, giving writers their needed solitude. From following the Guppy list serve (a subgroup of Sisters in Crime), cats seem to be the more popular pet among the writers who post there. Maybe it's because cats don't need to be taken out for walks. Also, if a writer has a cat or dog, they can write realistically about the animal's behaviors.
Two: Pets humanize the protagonist, show a tender side to them, and because both cats and dogs are popular pets, many readers can relate to them. Of course, children can soften a protagonist, too, but children create problems. It's hard for a sleuth, especially an amateur sleuth, to take off sleuthing on a whim when they have children to consider. Not that it's impossible, but it's much easier to leave a cat or dog at home than a child.
In my series, my protagonist, Catherine, has a cat. At the end of the second book, she also acquires a dog. Her romantic interest, the police chief of her small town, has a cat and ends up with the dog of a murder victim at the end of the first book. Because I've had cats and dogs for years, I find them easy and natural to write about. Do I enjoy reading books without animals? Absolutely. Do I like books with cats and dogs in them? Yes, but only if the book is well written with a good plot. I have a lot of favorite authors, who don't include animals. Cats and dogs are not as important as a protagonist I like and a well written book with a good plot.
Do you include cats or dogs in your work? Do you have a cat or dog?