I’m a cat person in a dog person’s world. If you’re not a cat lover, you probably aren’t bothered by the amount of hate that cats get from, well, everywhere. But let me tell you, there are few things that get me fired up faster than someone saying that all cats are mean jerks who couldn’t care less about the humans around them.
(Picture steam coming from my nostrils and ears even as I’m just thinking about this).
Why don’t cat haters realize how reductionist they are when they say these things? Sure, it’s a stereotype that cats can be aloof or aggressive. And there are two reasons for those stereotypes that I will explain later. But what about the stereotype that certain dogs are dangerous? Or the idea that some dogs make you look prissy? Why don’t dogs get as much general hate as cats?
The world is afraid to love cats because cats are less likely to universally love the world back.
Cats Aren’t Aloof, They’re Choosy
It should be obvious, but I feel I should state that every cat has a different personality. Some cats are more outgoing than others, just like some people are more outgoing than others. If you meet a cat who seems aloof, he or she may just be more inclined to enjoy alone time.
“What’s the point of a pet who doesn’t like spending time with you?” If you don’t like that kind of pet, it doesn’t mean that others won’t. Aloof cats can feel like great protectors of the house. They proudly walk around and spectate while doing their own thing. It may seem like they don’t care what’s going on, but cats always care what’s happening around them. It’s in their instincts. An aloof cat is simply a very confident and self-sufficient cat.
Cats Aren’t Aggressive, They’re Communicating with You
My two cats tend to be friendly, but every once in a while, they’ll take a swipe at someone. If the person isn’t familiar with cats, they’ll probably interpret this action as an aggressive one and blame the “demon cat” for lashing out irrationally.
Cats aren’t always simple. Just like when you interact with a person, you need to pay attention to their body language to understand if they’re comfortable or not. And you also need to keep in mind that they can get overstimulated. If someone was scratching your entire body for several minutes, you’d probably have to do something to make them stop too.
So when a person tries to tell me that I have a mean cat, I laugh. I laugh because I have never seen an instance in which a cat has swiped at a human unprovoked. If a cat seems like he or she “doesn’t like you,” it could be because you just don’t know how to interact with cats. They’re just as confused by you as you are by them, and they’re letting you know that they aren’t comfortable.
Understanding Cats is a Commitment Not Everyone Wants to Make
“You shouldn’t have to know a secret way to interact with a pet for it to be friendly to you.” Should anyone be able to pick up a snake at the pet store and take it home with no preparation? Or how about birds, even? Should I not know the proper, safe way to interact with a bird so we both are comfortable?
Just because cats are popular, it doesn’t mean that interacting with them should be second nature to us. I know some people think that because dogs are “man’s best friend” that they’re easy for everyone to get along with, but ask anyone who has had little interaction with dogs and there’s a good chance that they’ll tell you this is not true.
I don’t mind dogs on the whole. Of course, there are some dogs I have met that I did not care for. But overall, I just don’t understand dogs. I don’t know how to interact with them. Do I then proclaim that all dogs are mean and terrible? No. I just assume that dogs weren’t meant to be my favorite animal and I move on.
Why Not Everyone Should Own Cats
Some cats require more understanding than others in order to get along with you. I call this understanding “advanced catting.” Both of my cats are for advanced catters only. They’re friendly, but if you want to win them over, you have to be aware of the nuances in cat body language and really think about how your interactions are making them feel. I don’t mean to hold my cats up as special snowflakes who are more delicate than others. Honestly, I think most cats require some good cat know-how to feel comfortable.
Why I’m a Cat Person
As a result, cats just aren’t meant to be friends with everyone. And that’s part of why I like them so much. I can relate. I am the kind of person who likes to have very few very close friends. I don’t quickly open up to people and look for opportunities to go out and do things with them. I want to slowly get to know you and probably spend some time with you in quieter settings before I can say we’re friends. Anyone how knows me knows that when I say I’m a cat person, you can take that phrase more literally than you first think.
So cats aren’t for everyone, but they are great for people who like forging relationships like that. They’re great for people with patience and curiosity about how other beings think. And they’re great for people who want a little smarty pants walking around their house.