This is, in most part, a response to Brian Donovan, the man who made confessions about being a male cat owner over at Thought Catalog. Let me start by saying, Brian, you sound like an incredibly kind and thoughtful guy. I’m glad you had the courage to come out of the closet as a male cat owner. I respect you and your honesty. But I must unburden myself.
I am one of the girls you speak of, the kind who cocks her head sideways and looks at you as if you’ve just revealed that you were a fat kid (so was I!) when you tell me you have a cat. You’re right, I do see male cat ownership as a “preexisting condition.” One not conducive to me dating you. But not exactly for the reasons you’re thinking. I don’t find you creepy or feminine (or, I’m sure I wouldn’t if we met in person). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you whatsoever. It’s not you, it’s ME.
My friends seem to find my dislike of cats humorous. They joke that I will end up marrying a man with tons of cats and proudly scoop litter for all eternity. Let the record stand: That will never happen. Here. We. Go. Deep breath. The reasons why I am thoroughly incompatible with male cat owners …
1. I grew up with a dog and I loved her fiercely. Her name was Mandy, and she was a fluffy, white Bischon Frise. She was my best (and at times only) friend. I made up a song for her whenever I would give her treats. Mandy! You want a yuuummmy yummmmyyy? If we ever meet, I will sing it for you. Mandy and I only got into one fight in our years together. My parents got me a stuffed animal, it was a dog, and Mandy was jealous. She usually slept with me and when she spotted the stuffed animal, she went into a jealous fit, refusing to make eye contact with me, refusing to lick my hand. It was bad. I literally had to throw the stuffed animal in the garbage can before Mandy would acknowledge me again. It was awful. But I am getting off track here. I am still not over Mandy’s death. My dad decided to have her put down when I was a freshman in college. I never got to say goodbye. The truth is: I’m not ready to get attached to another animal — dog or cat. It’s just too painful.
2. Sometimes I don’t even like dogs. I am what you would traditionally consider a dog person. I have dated a few guys with dogs. Sometimes I like their dogs, and sometimes I only pretend to like them. I only like dogs who meet the following criteria: A) Have non-smelly breath, B) Don’t shed and C) Don’t bark too much. I prefer small to medium dogs with a high fluff to face ratio, but not those toy dogs or ones that look like mini ponies. The only thing that overrides my canine preferences is if I feel like I have a spiritual connection to a dog. This happens to me a lot, where I feel like the dog and I “get” each other.
3. I am averse to having pet hair of any kind on my clothing. It’s a pet peeve for me. Chances are, if I can’t leave your apartment without looking like I rolled around in a pile of pet hair, I’m not going to want to frequent your place.
4. Ditto for the smell of litter. I have a nose like a wolf. I can smell the litter box even if you have it hidden away. And the smell makes me feel ill.
5. My first boyfriend had a cat. We spent our fair share of time rolling around on his bed. And I spent a fair share of time visiting the eye doctor with chronic pink eye. After my third visit, the doctor asked if I had been sharing a pillow with a cat. Yes, I had. I was deemed severely allergic. I had to stop going over to my boyfriend’s house, which was fine because I was leaving for college and wanted to break up with him anyway. The takeaway here is that forever in my psyche, pink eye-like symptoms, cat allergies and a boyfriend I need to dump are all rolled together into one neat pellet of associative discomfort.
6. As if to reinforce my discomfort, a few years ago, I went on a series of dates with guys that all had cats. I was trying to be really open minded but it was a disaster. The worst being the guy who told me that the only reason he would want a relationship is to have someone to watch TV with at the end of a long day. Then he followed that up with, “But that’s what my cat is for.” There were other terribly unsettling things he did, but I am focusing on cat ownership for now. So I will stay on topic. Another one of the cat guys displayed affection to his cat way too soon in the relationship. After a few dates, I agreed to go to his place for a drink. He mentioned he had a cat, but only once. I knew that the cat would be there logically, but I wasn’t prepared for it emotionally. When the cat jumped on his lap and he started kissing and stroking and purring at his kitty, I couldn’t handle it. I had to bolt. I’m sorry. I’m just being honest here.
7. Sometimes (rarely, but SOMETIMES) I think cats are cute. More honesty here. My co-worker Julie has a very fat cat named Colonel Mustard and I kind of like him. I won’t touch Colonel. But I occasionally enjoy his existence. Do with that what you will.
8. I am terrified of being a crazy cat lady. I am not going to get into too much detail, but my grandmother was mentally ill. I don’t think she had cats, but that’s irrelevant. To me, owning a cat would put me one step closer to being crazy. I realize this is completely illogical. But I am giving it to you straight. Also, there was that Atlantic article that came out recently about how cat poop actually makes you insane. Dear God. I’m sure you can only imagine what kind of spiral that sent me into.