Thursday 14 March 2013

Why do so many single women love cats?

            I'm pretty sure my minor in psychology makes me uniquely qualified to delve into the female psyche and tackle one of the most puzzling questions about young women. We're not talking about jeggings, why we choose such horribly wrong partners, or Channing Tatum (I'm sorry, ladies, but I just don't see it!). I want to talk about why so many single women choose cats as pets. You may want to challenge me on this and say, "Katie, not every single girl has a cat." Well, there are enough of us that "crazy cat lady" is a phrase and phenomenon we are all familiar with. Why is this? 

A friend of mine identified this photo as the moment I became a crazy cat lady- for the record, I'm in my Cheshire Cat costume

            I wasn't single when I adopted Sweet Pea. I was in a nearly three-year-long relationship, but I was living alone, going to school full-time, and working full-time hours. I went to the SPCA more than a couple of times before finding Sweet Pea. Two months later, I ended my relationship and became a single woman with a cat. Sweet Pea has outlasted two relationships now and a cross-country move, so it's pretty clear that we're inseparable. But why? Is it the unconditional love? The emotional support? The non-judgmental company?
            Not bloody likely.
But Katie, my cat is so loving!
            I have used this very same justification to excuse the scratch and bite marks on my forearms. "She just likes to play!" I've also told people that my cat prefers to adore me from a distance. It can feel like you're trying to justify a less-than-perfect romantic relationship when you explain this to friends and family. "I know s/he loves me- s/he doesn't have to say it! I can just tell!" I'm not saying your cat doesn't love you. I'm sure mine does. She just has a terrible way of showing it. But we single women accept this. We've likely dealt with it in relationships and been unsatisfied. We might have ended relationships with people who don't love us the way we need to be loved. I have. Love is about compromise, but in a single woman/cat relationship, it's all one-sided. 

            Single Woman: Cat, let's snuggle. Come here and curl up on my lap.

         Cat: *walks over towards you, stops three feet in front of woman, and flings self onto ground, just out of reach* Nope.
            There's only so much of that we'd take in a relationship before giving a partner his or her walking papers. Somehow, cats get a free pass here and are free to love us as they choose- and when they choose. This leads nicely to the next protest from single women cat lovers.
But Katie, my cat is always there for me!
            Nope. Your cat is always there for him or herself. In general, I'd say that cats are some of the least supportive pets. I had dwarf rabbits in high school that were more sensitive to my feelings. When I'm feeling sad, Sweet Pea watches from a chair across the room, looking at me as if to say, "I could care less, sugar. Is it time for breakfast yet?" In general, cats don't go out of their way to cheer you up. You know when my cat wants to snuggle? Around 3am. She'll wake me up to curl up on my arm try to suckle on my earlobe (I know, weird right?). Cats are not terribly considerate- of anything. At the last brunch I prepared, Sweet Pea sat next to the table and licked her butthole in front of the company. Yes, my cat is always in my apartment but I'm fairly certain that's only because she can't open the front door on her own yet. Cats are like the completely self-absorbed friend you love, but who makes everything about themselves when you really need a shoulder to cry on. They're not the ideal company.

Yes cat, your flexibility is impressive, but this is just impolite.

But Katie, my cat is great company!
            Are you sure about that? Living with a cat can be like living with a terribly inconsiderate roommate. I was lucky because I had pretty amazing roommates in college but I lived in residence long enough to see the potential pitfalls.
            Cats don't hesitate to wake you up for food, creeping into your room like drunken frat guys wanting you to drive them to McDonald's at 4am before they start serving breakfast. Sure, cats may put a little flourish on things with cute meows and little nuzzles, but the result is the same. You're in the dead of sleep, dreaming about David Duchovny in "The X-Files" (or Channing Tatum, whatever!) and you're woken up by your furry roommate for some kibble. I never feed the cat at this point because I know all about positive reinforcement: if I feed her when she wakes me up, she'll keep waking me up. The only problem with this? She wakes me up anyhow, two years later, psychology minor be damned.
            Cats rarely contribute anything to the household. They can't hold jobs or clean up after themselves, but it would be nice if they could do something. Dogs often act as a deterrent to burglars. Cats only act as a deterrent to potential boyfriends. They get hair everywhere and kick litter all over the place. My cat doesn't even kill the occasional bugs she finds. She corners them and meows, indicating like a drug dog, until I come and take care of them. Like a bad relationship, the bar is set low. Couldn't s/he just do the dishes once?
            Thankfully I have never experienced this one because Sweet Pea is an indoor cat, but how about those weird gifts that outdoor cats bring home, like dead animals? It's like waking up in the morning to find the strange dude your roommate brought home from the bar the night before and having that odd morning interaction outside the bathroom. You're wondering, "Why the hell would you bring that home?" in both instances. To be fair to the cat, it has got to be easier to clean up after the dead animal than deal with an awkward morning encounter, not to mention that the cat brought that dead animal home for you. I've never had a roommate bring home a strange dude for me. Thank you for that, old roomies.
            I can only conclude that single women subconsciously choose cats as furry roommates to prepare them for the compromise of relationships. They are willing to overlook the slightly asshole-ish qualities of cats in favour of their great qualities. This is great practice for remembering to have reasonable expectations of your future partner. Your cat might not come when you call his or her name, but they are fairly independent and can stay alone for a weekend without blowing up your phone with, "Where u at?" texts. Your future partner may dress terribly, but he or she may watch cheesy horror movies with you even though they hate them. Cats aren't perfect and neither are people. You bring home a cat knowing it is going to shit in a box in your home, but you accept that because it's way more convenient than 6am dog walks. Why would you meet a future partner and expect that he or she would never pee with the door open or clog your shower drain with hair? We're all assholes sometimes. Cats, better than any other domesticated animals, remind us of this. If you really love someone, you have to love them for their eccentricities- not in spite of them. I'm a single woman and I love my cat.

* I truly love my cat. Please don't send me hate mail for bashing cats. They're awesome- but they're assholes, too. But since she loves me for all my eccentricities, like taking hundreds of pictures of her, bothering her during her naptimes, and decorating her e-collar with a mustache, so we're good.

© Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, written or visual, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Jolicoeur and Blackhearts & Raspberry Tarts with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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