Here’s the thing about trash-talking your roommates: Humans are fair game. We’ve all lived with that friend who lets the dishes pile up in the sink, thinks the bathroom floor is an ideal receptacle for dirty underwear, and always has mysterious "extra expenses" around the time rent is due. In fact, since everyone is broke, commiserating about crappy shared living situations is basically a national pastime.
But these days, my roommates are cats, and I’ll probably get pissed if you pick on them. Here are nine things not to say to someone whose roommates are of the four-legged, purring, bewhiskered variety.
1. "Aren’t you afraid you’ll die and they’ll eat you?"
Yes, the thought has crossed my mind. In fact, I used to have a well-crafted fear of dying alone in the bathtub and remaining undiscovered for days, during which time my beloved kitties, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix, would, um, basically devour my flesh. Okay — I’ve thought about it quite a bit. And here’s the deal: I’m strangely kind of fine with it. Next question.
2. "You have cats? I wouldn’t have guessed it."
Would you say this to someone who has human children? Okay, maybe you would if you were trying to convey some sort of pseudosexist awe for how conventionally attractive a woman still is despite having GROWN ANOTHER HUMAN BEING IN HER BODY, but that is fodder for another article.
Basically, this statement implies that I should somehow try to hide the fact that I have cats, maybe? I can’t figure it out, because most days I wear my fur-covered sweater like a badge of honor: "Look how much damn love I have in my life."
3. "Do you want my cat? What’s one more?"
I get this one a lot, and I understand that the people who raise this question mean well. Honestly, I might ask me too — Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix are some lucky beasts, and due to an acute sense of guilt coupled with reverence that borders on worship, any feline who is lucky enough to finagle his way into my home will have a home for life.
But just because I already have two cats does not mean I’m ready for another. It’s not like adding another cat to my home will be a small change that I will barely notice. It takes time, money, and emotional investment, and right now I’m short on all three.
4. "You’re a crazy cat lady in training!"
One time someone I didn’t know very well called me a crazy cat lady, and she might as well have hidden a piece of rotting meat in the corner of my apartment. At first I shrugged it off — "No, it’s cool," I thought. "I am pretty crazy about my cats." But a couple of days later, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Was I doomed to pace my empty apartment alone for eternity, a ratty-haired spinster wearing tattered robes with cat treats in the pockets? WOULD I NEVER FIND LOVE?
Unless it is coming from a well-meaning friend and/or someone who also shares her life with cats, the term "crazy cat lady" is actually pretty offensive. Instead of calling someone a crazy cat lady, here’s another option: STFU.
5. "They’re just cats."
People who think cats are "just cats" have clearly never lived with cats. Either that, or they’re sociopaths. Cats are complex, emotional creatures who have wants and needs and fears. They’re loving and expressive. They’re strange and funny and unique. They’re communicative and gentle and ferocious, the dark and the light all rolled up into one fabulously cute, furry being. They’re also my best friends. They aren’t "just" anything.
6. "Oh, cats are easy."
I hear this statement frequently when people are debating cats vs. dogs. Apparently traditional wisdom dictates that caring for dogs requires actual effort and the expenditure of human emotion, whereas with cats, "you can just leave out a bowl of food and water and they’ll be fine."
Oh really, fool? I wish someone would tell Phoenix that all she needs to be happy is a bowl of kibble and some filmy water, and she does not, in fact, need to be all up in my face when I’m trying to sleep, nor does she need to watch me in the bathroom or roll around on my keyboard while I’m trying to type. SHE CLEARLY DID NOT GET THE MEMO.
7. "Have you heard of toxoplasmosis?"
Toxoplasmosis, aka the parasite in your cat’s poop that is allegedly making you batshit crazy, has been blown way out of proportion. Not only is toxoplasmosis typically only found in feral cats, it’s also not really a problem if you just wash your damn hands after cleaning the litter box — something I’d hope everyone does anyway.
But on the off chance that I am ever exposed, I’m not worried. The symptoms in women are a heightened interest in personal appearance and a tendency to be more outgoing and trusting, so I could actually benefit from infection.
8. "Have you seen the cat lady on Hoarders?"
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: STFU.
9. "Cats are gross."
It all depends on how you define "gross." My cats poop in a box that I keep in my home, yes, and they walk on the furniture and sometimes track kitty litter in places kitty litter does not belong. But your dog eats his own poop — and your cat’s poop, too. And remember that time you got drunk, cooked a pizza, and dropped it cheesy-side down on the kitchen floor? Remember how you scraped it onto a plate and ate it anyway? Or is that just me? Anyway, point is — we’re all gross. Get over it.
About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.
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