Debunking The Cat Stigma / Why Cats Aren’t “Cool”

nerdy cat

 

Don’t be offended—we’re all cat lovers here. In fact, in some circles (ok, among literally every single one of my friends), I’m known as the “crazy cat lady.” I’m sure many of you can relate. However, I don’t take issue with this label; I embrace it.

But I can’t help but wonder, why isn’t there such a thing as a “crazy dog lady” or a “crazy hamster man?” Why is the designation of “crazy” reserved only for those devoted to furry companions of the house cat variety?

After all, is it really such a strange (or abnormal) thing to love an animal that seems to inspire universal, rabid devotion among those who truly know them?

 

 

Fundamental differences

Pippin-yawn

Naps with your cat are not cool. But damned it they aren’t adorable!

I mean, I kind of get it.

Dogs are active and outdoorsy. Cats are skittish and weird (and typically confined to a house). Dogs are social, love to be around people, and you can take them with you on adventures. Cats (tend to be) antisocial, generally dislike strangers, and would rather sleep in a puddle next to the toilet than do anything remotely resembling strenuous activity.

When you picture a dog lover, you see a tanned, athletic, granola-eating surfer with a bucketful of barbecue sauce-covered friends. Cat lovers, on the other hand, are likewise stereotyped as anemic shut-ins who knit a lot, and venture out into the sunlight only occasionally to air out their bedsores.

Ok, I’m exaggerating. But you get it.

 

 

The .cat boom

Until very recently, cats were not cool. I would argue that they’re still not cool. Sure, if you were judging by their online presence, you’d think that cat videos could cure cancer—but there’s still some stigma attached to being a “cat lover.”

Why is that?

One thing’s for sure: not being a cat lover has always been cooler than being one.

 

hipster catIf you ask me, cats are the original hipsters. They were once misunderstood, niche, and completely deviant from the mainstream. Black cats were bad omens. Feral cats were pests. Cat lovers made you uncomfortable. They wore sweatshirts emblazoned with their cats’ faces and talked in a baby voice. If you had too many cats, you were definitely a little “off.”

Suddenly, the internet arrived and revealed something that few (non cat owners) had previously known: cats are actually hilarious. And incredibly endearing.

 

So then came the cat craze—keyboard cat, lolcats, nian-cat, grumpy cat, and my personal favorite—Maru, the adorable Japanese butterball (this is by no means a comprehensive list, by the way). Suddenly cats were everywhere. They were almost even cool. No matter where you went, you couldn’t escape seeing a cat video, or a cat photo, or hearing about some new cat shenanigans. It was exhausting. Like the much-reviled hipsters with their beards, knit caps and skinny pants, cats were no longer
alternative. They had become pervasively, annoyingly mainstream.grumpy cat

And just like in the case of the poor, maligned hipster, there was a backlash. Because the only thing cooler than being a hipster? Hating on hipsters. And likewise, the one thing (well, one among many things) cooler than liking cats—is not liking them. And being vocal about it.

 

 

 

The Aftermath

I’ve had people warn me not to get another cat, because then I’d be crossing an unspoken threshold into “crazy-cat-lady-condemned-to-spend-a-bleak-existence-knitting-cat-socks” territory. I’ve read that cat hair is glitter for lonely people. Ok, that’s kind of hilarious, and cats do make excellent companions for the less socially-inclined.
But it reveals a lot about the prevailing attitude towards cats and their guardians.

And on some level, this perception is actually quite understandable.

 

 

People who love cats, really love cats. There’s practically no eleanor abernathymiddle ground. I myself went from completely indifferent to hopelessly enamored in about the span of a week (you can read more about my cat-acquiring adventure on my About page). Fledgling cat lovers will adopt their first cat, and then acquire 3 more before the year is up.  We’ll talk enthusiastically, and at length, about our fur babies if you let us. Pictures will be produced from wallets and phones. We’ll smile expectantly at you, not unlike a mother gleefully sharing photos of her newborn—who, let’s face it, resembles little more than an oversized raisin.

The zeal of a cat lover is palpable, and it can be off-putting. Being this fanatical about something is, by definition, not cool. Cool is effortless. Cool is nonchalant.

 

cat lover comic

 

 

Making the case for all cat-kind

Maybe cats will never be cool. And they really don’t need to be. Cat lovers generally don’t mind being looked upon as offbeat and overzealous, because deep down, we know it’s true. I never predicted that I’d stray from a lifetime of blissful dog ownership into the life of a fanatical cat lady. For the record, I have always loved dogs (and all animals), and still very enthusiastically do.

cat in a cornerBecause to someone who’s never lived with a cat, cats are assholes. They’re standoffish, unpredictable, and moody. When you meet a cat for the first time, chances are she’ll run and hide. Who would be drawn to such antisocial behavior? If you’ve only known a cat a short while, she can come across as demanding or unfriendly. Very few cats are precocious and immediately affectionate with strangers.

But when you get to know a cat, really get to know them, you get to see their weird little nuances. You begin to understand their complexity, playfulness, and incredible capacity for love and devotion—that, despite the common misconception, is not contingent on your ability to provide them with food.

 

kittens climbing human

I’m not implying that all the nonbelievers (ha!) of this world should immediately run off and adopt the first cat they see. But, to them I say this: just try to keep an open mind. The next time you meet your weird friend’s four cats, Mittens, Fluffy, Snowball, and Mr. Pickles, don’t just roll your eyes and keep your distance. (I mean, you’re perfectly entitled to do so, but that will just make them like you more.)

 

Toss them a cat toy or two. Lots of cats like to play fetch. Isn’t that kind of badass?

Finally, something we can all agree on!

 

 

 

 

 

Have a burning cat question you’d like to see answered? Just have a burning cat?

Leave me a comment below!

(Unless you really do have a burning cat. Should probably see to that first.)

4 comments on “Debunking The Cat Stigma / Why Cats Aren’t “Cool””

  1. Sabina says:

    I have three cats and life is never dull!!!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Three’s a great number! I’m going for three myself as soon as we migrate to a slightly bigger apartment. :]

  2. Cire says:

    This is great!!

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