Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The "crazy cat lady" bias

Two cats snuggled together in one chair
The benefits of a multi-cat household are clear to see...
On Valentine's Day, I've come to expect the barrage of "crazy cat lady" jokes to appear. Cartoons pop up on Facebook. Single women with cats make disparaging remarks about how they need to get more cats. Single women with no cats are encouraged to get some.

I know. I know. It's all done in fun. But still, I'm a little sick of it.

Not every single woman has cats. In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, many single MEN are now unabashed cat lovers. (People wax poetic about why this is the case, including some crazy guy who claims that men love living with another predator. This is yet another case of sexism playing out via companion pets, but that's a topic for another day.) In any case, no matter how many men may own their own cats, I have yet to see anyone report on a "crazy cat man" joke circulating.

I don't disagree that people who own cats have more than one. I, in fact, have three cats (and I married into a family with three cats, bringing the total to six ... for the math-impaired out there). Far be it for me to say that no single woman has multiple cats.

But those of us who have cats know that felines do better in pairs. Multiple cat experts suggest that cats prefer to live in pairs. They engage in less destructive behaviors, and they tend to keep one another company, so they spend less time harassing their owners.

So next year, let's stop with the single woman = crazy cat lady bias. Let's remember that men also love cats. And let's remember that having more than one cat is probably good for the cat, and results in LESS work for the owner, therefore less obsessive behavior on the part of the owner and the cat.

In other words, give it a break, will ya'?