Cat Weight and Why Understanding Reality is Important for Writers

When you say “lighter than house cat” what kind of cat do you mean exactly? Because just based on my cats it could be anything from 1kg to 4kg and that kind of makes a difference…

I think I’ve always specified weight before making that comparison in the past. For most domestic cat breeds, 10lbs is the average, healthy, adult weight. Somewhat obviously this will vary, with some breeds being potentially much smaller, and obviously, juveniles will be much smaller (and lighter) than their parents. The extreme edge of this are Siamese, which have some of the smallest kittens among domestic cat breeds, but then grow to be only slightly smaller than most other domestic cats. I’m not sure where you’re finding a 2.2lb adult cat, though that could certainly be an outlier.

The thing is, if we were talking about swords, yeah, that 4kg cat will be heavier than most greatswords. That 1kg cat will be heavier than most sabers, foils, and rapiers, with some other sword variants being slightly heavier.

I feel like a broken record sometimes on this topic. We have a lot of fantasy literature which looks at swords and thinks, “that must be really heavy, so it can hit really hard,” but, that’s not how you use the weapon. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “massive” greatsword or a rapier, swords are precision cutting tools. They are not long axes. They are not sharpened hammers.

Additionally, while a fight will be fairly brief, battles can easily last all day. It’s not a question of whether you can use a weapon once or twice, it’s something you need to be able to do for hours at a time. Swinging around a massive 40lb chunk of steel may be a great workout, but you’re not going to be able to do that for hours without rest, no matter how well conditioned you are.

This gets into another fantasy element. You have fantasy heroes that are outright superhuman swinging around these comically oversized (and more often over weighted) weapons. In some cases, this is technically fine, as the wielder is overtly superhuman, and in others it’s an error by the author.

As I’ve said in the past, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a fictional character having an impractically heavy weapon… if there’s a point to it. If it’s an indication that the character really is superhuman, and we’re supposed to understand that? Cool. If the weapon says something about their personality? That’s fine, it’s a legitimate venue of characterization.

Usually, we prioritize realism, because as the author, you have the choice of when you want to step away from reality to fit your story. However, it is important that you, as the writer, be aware when you’ve done so. You want to make these decisions as informed choices, not something you accidentally stumbled into because you’ve seen it before, and thought, “that’s how it is.” This can become a real problem for writers when they take elements of characterization from a story that inspired them and accidentally graft them into their work.

Another common example is the idea of weapon hyperfocus, where you have characters that only use one specific weapon, and are basically defenseless without it. It doesn’t make any sense from a realistic perspective. It’s not how people are trained. It’s now how these skills work. But, it can be a very significant statement about how your character views the world.

Similarly, in real history, soldiers would carry multiple weapons. That’s the real world, but even in emulating that, you’re informing your audience that your characters are more flexible, and better able to handle a variety of situations.

It’s up to you what you want to do with your characters, but the information is here so you can make that decision. So you don’t think that your character couldn’t wield a sword because they’re not a ‘roided up wall of meat, or don’t accidentally think that all melee weapons are comically heavy and massive, because they weren’t.

-Starke

This blog is supported through Patreon. If you enjoy our content, please consider becoming a Patron. Every contribution helps keep us online, and writing. If you already are a Patron, thank you, and come join us on Discord.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.