If you ever get a chance to be a single 20-something in an exciting city, I highly recommend it. I plan my days around the idea that I can more or less do whatever my cold little heart desires. While I am forever an extrovert who occasionally finds herself in a relationship, I’ve been happily “not-tied-down” for the majority of my life. Being single works for me — and most of the time, the people around me don’t have much to say about it.
That is, until I mention that I have a cat.
I’m always surprised when a well-meaning friend or stranger comments on the fact that I’m minus one significant other and plus one significant pet. It seems there are certain, shall we say, preconceived notions attached to being Single Woman With A Cat. If you’ve ever been this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the way folks tiptoe around you as if you were some mom-jeans-toting Susan Boyle extra the second they find out that you are (gasp!) unmarried, and (gasp!) the owner of a cat.
Let me be clear. By all accounts, I’m a totally “normal” human being. I’m not a recluse who spends my days alone at home with my jars of pee as I crochet voodoo dolls out of the hairs of people who have wronged me. Still, I get the occasional inappropriate question or comment about my life — usually from some dummy who doesn’t know what they are missing. Here are six of the best — er, worst.
“You practically have a baby; you have a cat”
This might be shocking coming from me, a person who once confused soap for butter and used my tongue to clean it off of my cell phone, but even I can tell the difference between a pet cat and a human baby. I like to buy my nephew manga books and take him to museum exhibitions. I like spoon my cat at night and use my fingers to pick things out of her mouth that shouldn’t be there. The activities are not interchangeable.
Also, I’m pretty sure that equating a cat to a baby is like looking a mother in the eyes and lighting her on fire. Look, I love my cat, but no way am I about to pretend that the pet I adopted by sitting around until my friend dropped her off one day is anywhere close to the same thing as being pregnant, pushing a baby out of my body, and raising a child.
“Do you worry that people won’t want to date you because of your cat?”
Well, now I do! This, by the way, is a real question that a real human really once asked me. I think it’s pretty self explanatory as to why this question is the emotional equivalent to shoving your finger into your pal’s eye, but in case you’re unclear: Don’t voluntarily point out what you might believe to be “reasons a friend is single.” Like, ever. And if the reason happens to drag in a greatly beloved pet? Double don’t point it out.
There are 1 million reasons that someone should hesitate to go out with me: I never, ever text back, I use my fingers to do basic math, and my crotch region is literally covered in a shark-like series of jagged teeth. Being a cat owner is pretty low on the list.
Here’s one that’s even worse.
“You don’t need a partner, you’ve got a cat”
If you are fuzzy about where the boundaries between a romantic partner and a pet are, I suggest you try to escape from the weird religious cult you are in, and find a kindly old grandmother to gently stroke your head and lay down some knowledge about the birds and the bees.
My cat makes me very happy. But does she buy me flowers and tell me I look fine in my too-tight jeans I insist on sausage-ing myself into? No. (Haha, neither do the people I date, but, hey.) Do I wrestle my romantic interests to the floor of a tightly locked bathroom and stuff them full of cookies until they stop crying long enough for me to cut their toenails? Again, nope. Not interchangeable, folks.
“So, you could never date someone who likes dogs?”
There’s a special section of hell reserved for people who pronounce every letter in the word “ointment” and for people who phrase questions in a manner that immediately puts the questionee on the defensive. Assuming that a cat-owner hates dogs is strange because: A) The person has already proved that she likes animals, B) It’s possible to like more than one thing, obviously, and C) What? What are we even talking about here?
“You’re a crazy cat lady!”
Ho-boy. All right. I know lots of people who embrace this one, and that’s totally cool. You want to call yourself Crazy Cat Lady, call yourself Crazy Cat Lady. Hell, call yourself Drunk Driver the Baby Eater, for all I care. But don’t go into a conversation with a nice woman who owns a cat thinking that she’s going to think you’re some great jokester for calling her the ol’ CCL. Bonus you-are-a-jerk points for using an insult that works only on women. In general, offensive nicknames are between you, yourself, and sometimes a sibling — which is why I will forever be referred to as “Laura Whore-a” around my sister’s house.
I’m not sure where this charming “crazy cat lady” thing came from, and I don’t really care to spend my time researching it. Instead, let’s focus on a personal favor you can do for me if you ever hear me utter this phrase to another person: Take me out into the woods, smack me over the head, and leave. I’m giving you permission.
Here, in my humble opinion, are some things you can say to single women (and people in general) who have cats:
“What’s your cat’s name?”
“What kind of cat?”