Saddleback College student Chloe Konoske and her kitty Meiko posing for the purrfect photo. | Chloe Konoske
Why do cats get a bad wrap?
Cats used to be worshiped in Ancient Egypt, and cats are still worshiped in the households they reside in. Yet, there is a debate that has yet to run its course about which is better: cats or dogs?
As an owner of four, I find it hard to believe that anyone would genuinely have a disdain for cats. The only people I can find a disliking for cats justifiable for would be people who are allergic to them, and even then, my friends who are allergic to cats, still love mine.
I will admit, the temperament of a cat depends on how they are raised, but the same goes for dogs. People are often much more forgiving of dogs than they are of cats, why is that?
According to Mazow & McCullough: Attorneys at Law, “Every year 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs, and tragically, about 20 people die from these attacks every year.”
I bring this statistic up, not to slander dogs, but to compare it to the stats of cat violent incidents. After looking up several varying questions in hopes of finding something for comparison, I found no statistics relating to cats causing fatal harm to humans.
The most I found was a Reddit page dedicated to cat related accidents, in which most of the posts were about people tripping over their cats on the stairs. As a cat owner I can verify that being a legit and common thing to happen, more often than I’m willing to admit, but I’ve never been hurt badly enough to want to get rid of said cat.
Now, this could be because domestic dogs are built very differently from domestic cats, but that goes without saying. The fact of the matter is that puppies/dogs love humans unconditionally, whereas kittens/cats require a strong foundation of trust and an emotional bond.
“I wouldn’t have gotten cats if not for my daughters,” said Trabuco Canyon resident Terri Lamonte. “One day, my daughter just brought the little guy home and said ‘This is Yoshi.’ And now both of my daughter’s have moved out, I still have Yoshi and a new cat named Belle, who was my choice. Yoshi was a great influence on that decision, and I wouldn’t want him anywhere else.”
Yoshi, beyond the fact that he cannot see at all out of his right eye, is a special and sweet cat. Yoshi is a black cat and the segue into what makes him and other cats like him a potential victim to violence.
History for black cats is not the best, as they are heavily associated with Halloween and bad luck. For centuries this stereotype has followed black cats, similar to the stereotype that claims all pit bulls are viscous. This bad luck goes as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece when they were perceived as mythical creatures, according to History.
Although there is no data to support these rumors, there are a ton surrounding instances in which black cats have been adopted, either on Halloween or not, and used as “sacrifices.” In other words, are brutally murdered by sick people. Over the years though, this concern has become less centralized on fur color and more so on desperation of people with ill intentions.
According to Alley Cat Allies, “black cats are in no more danger on Halloween than any other time of the year. The chilling reality is countless cats are killed every day in animal shelters, regardless of the color of their fur.”
Even though we cannot ensure all our furry friends safety within the homes they find themselves in, we can take it upon ourselves every day to spread the word about adoption and destigmatize the notions that accompany owning a cat within our own circles. What reasons are there against owning a cat that aren’t outdated?
Cats are extremely intuitive and affectionate creatures. They are so intuitive there have been several instances in which a cat has detected a pregnancy within their owner before their owner has. Not only that, but cats have also been scientifically proven to lower stress and anxiety.
“My cats are literally the only things that keep me sane,” says CSUF student Kellie Petrosian. “They mean the world to me and are just these little fluff balls of happiness. Yes, they can be sassy at times, but that honestly just adds to their personality as a whole.”
Never once have I looked at a dog’s relationship with a human and said “that’s not cute because dogs are bred to love humans,” but I do appreciate the bond between humans and cats just a little bit more.
Long-time cat owners understand the emotional dedication it takes to raise a cat. I could honestly talk about my own cats for hours, because each of them have such unique personalities, so when I hear people say cats are boring I can’t help but laugh at that blatant excuse for a lack of emotional motivation and maturity.
It’s often said that men who own cats are green-flags. This isn’t to say that a man who only owns a dog is a red-flag, because hello, Chris Evans exists, but this is more so in reference to the “dog owner” mentality.
Memes have been made about the difference between cat owners and dog owners, but there is some truth that shines through. Dog owners are usually very against the thought of owning cats, whereas cat owners are open to both cats and dogs. This plays right into the “dog owner” mentality I mentioned previously.
“As someone who’s had both cats and dogs, there’s something so special about when a cat trusts you,” says Saddleback student, and owner of five cats, Chloe Konoske. “Because of the time that it takes to build trust with cats, it’s incredibly rewarding and sweet once the cat shows you affection. I like to say that cats choose their humans.”
I find it very funny when people say cats are a lot of work because that’s simply not true. With dogs, they eat more, they need to be walked, they need a backyard big enough for them to do their business, which should be picked up, they need to be groomed regularly, and they often have way more health problems than cats do.
Cats, on the other paw, need to be fed and cleaned up after too, but in a way less extreme sense. Unless you have a long hair cat, they do most of the grooming themselves, and generally keep to themselves unless you want to put in the emotional work that is required with a cat.
Now, I love my dog more than anything, but he is a handful. Whereas, my four cats have basically taken care of themselves and choose to act like the humans in the house provide anything for them other than cuddles and entertainment.
“When I first adopted my cat, he was the most frightened skittish little thing ever,” says Saddleback College student Sierra Sutphin. “I loved him so much and I was just hoping he would come around to know that he was in a safe place and in good hands. Little did I know that he would come to understand that and so much more.”
Cats are some of the most emotionally intelligent domesticated creatures out there. “Domesticated” being the keyword there as some of the most emotionally intelligent animals are not ones you would want in your living room: Elephants, dolphins, or chimpanzees.
“Cats are much more emotionally connected in a way that dogs are not,” Sutphin said. “They carry much more human-like features in their attitude, behavior, and self-expression.”
If cats have so much to offer, why put them in a gender-stereotyped box. The term “crazy-cat man” is not one you hear nearly as often as “crazy-cat lady.” Although this term can be good natured and fun, it does highlight a societal issue.
“At first owning a cat was a little difficult as it is with taking care of any creature,” said Saddlback college student and cat lover Symeon Jordan. “But it got easy pretty fast, and I do feel an emotional connection to her. We cuddle a lot and she has different roles in the family, like I am the one she goes to when she wants to play. Owning cats is not and should not be limited to one gender.”
Many people associate cats with women and dogs with men. Some argue that cats are a symbol of femininity, but I would not go as far to argue that dogs are a symbol of masculinity, as there are plenty of dogs that are just as beautiful as cats. But there is this aspect of divinity and grace that comes with cats, that some like to pretend is untouchable.
This quality is not so much untouchable as much as it is respectable, and that might just be where people with closed-mindsets miss out on the opportunity to make a deep connection with a cat, or a woman, if we’re really going to get into the semantics of it all.
Why should the relationship between a cat and a woman be chafed at? It’s not a woman’s fault that they more often understand the emotional maturity it takes to own a cat. Once again, that’s not to say that dogs are incapable of forming emotional connections.
“Bailey is more than a pet, she’s a true companion,” said Saddleback student and dog owner Alexa Parvaneh. “She responds to rigorous training, but she also has sensitive and emotional needs. And when I need support, Bailey is there for me. Bailey is not a man’s best friend, she is my best friend.”
The relationship between dog and human should not be limited to dog and man, just as the relationship between cat and human should not be limited to cat and woman. The term “man’s best friend” has turned into a frame of reference when looking at human and domesticated animal connections.
It’s only upon doing away with the concept of toxic masculinity as well as feminine nature, which stems from a heteronormative society, that a man can too find a friend within a cat.
“I have 3 kitties and I love them very much,” said Saddleback student Konner Clarson. “They provide support when I need them and, occasionally, they sit in my lap and participate in relaxing if they aren’t being spazzes. They tend to reflect my actions and personality traits often, so I do feel quite an emotional connection to them and if they die, then I will die with them.”
Losing a pet is never easy, but losing a friend, arguably even a family member, is an indescribable feeling. Cats are stubborn, so they can live a long time, meaning you’ve got quite some time to get attached before the end.
“The last one dying was one of the saddest experiences I’ve had to go through,” said Clarson. “And I don’t want to go through that again, because, yeah, I love them and I am deeply connected to them. They are my babies.”
Arguably the same reason that getting pets is a bad investment is the same reason it’s a good investment: they will eventually die. This concept goes beyond whether or not you have a cat or a dog, as it forces you to live your own life to the fullest, and ultimately make life enjoyable for yourself and those around you, especially the furry friends.
Let’s destigmatize the gender constructs that surround owning cats versus owning dogs and prioritize finding homes for these fluffballs. Because, at the end of the day, if the opportunity to take in an animal presents itself to you, the only reason you should ever say “no” is if your building doesn’t allow pets… But if it were a cat you wouldn’t have to worry about sneaking them through the hallways for a walk every day!
Author’s note: Upon first sitting down to write this, I did have four cats. Upon finishing this, I have three. I didn’t have the heart to change it, I hope you understand. My sassy Cosmo wouldn’t have appreciated being excluded. It was through experiencing the last 16 years of life with this guy that I realized what it meant to have a friend. Adopt a pet if you can, you won’t regret it.
Cosmo wrapped up in a blanket burrito. | Jacquelyn Sharga