I admit it. I’m a “cat lady” through and through. I love and admire cats for their independence, their resourcefulness and their grace. Nothing makes me feel more at peace than spending a few minutes just sitting quietly with a cat. And while many people would think this is odd, most of my closest friends are cats. I enjoy their company and love the time I spend with them.I realize not everyone feels the way I do, but I was still surprised and sad to read this news. Cat ladies are going to the dogs!
Between 2005 and 2015, 7.7 million women became dog owners, while just 0.9 million added cats to their families, Packaged Facts publisher and research director David Sprinkle writes on Petfoodindustry.com. During the same period, 6.2 million additional households with an income of $100,000 or more became dog owners, he says, while just 2.4 million of these higher-earning families adopted or bought cats.
So why are cat ladies becoming a dying breed? No one knows for sure, but I have some theories.
At the height of their popularity, cats were thought of as “easy” pets. But it turns out they’re not that easy, especially when they live strictly indoors. And cat ladies have gotten a bad rap for always looking disheveled and bringing to life the slogan, “Cat Hair Completes the Outfit.”
Okay, so cat hair usually does complete my outfit. But I’m a cat sitter, so I guess I have a good excuse.
Cats Rule, But Not In ‘Shelters’
Another of my favorite slogans is, “Cats Rule, Dogs Drool.” But in open access “shelters,” cats do anything but rule. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, about 7.6 million companion animals enter our nation’s animal shelters every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats, and the cats are less likely to come out alive.Each year, those “shelters” kill about 1.4 million cats and 1.2 million dogs.
It’s up to the cat ladies to stop the killing, not just by adopting but by becoming advocates for cats.
Purrfecting The Talking Points
When was the last time you went to a party and heard people laughing about how their dogs chew everything, use the rugs instead of waiting to go outside and shed all over everywhere? We all know dogs do that, but it’s rarely a hot topic. So why are our conversations about cats so different? Why do we joke about our cats shredding the furniture, using the toaster as a litter box (yes, I had a cat who did that!) and leaving a trail of fur behind them wherever they go? Would you want to live with someone like that?We need to change the conversation. We need to stop laughing about the “bad” things cats do and discuss all the things about them that we love.
Have I told you that I love to just look at my cats because they’re all so beautiful and graceful? Even my huge Sizzle can leap with the grace of a ballet dancer when he spots a bowl of dry food that’s supposed to be out of reach for him on a table.
Petting a cat can lower our blood pressure. Our cats know when we’re sick or unhappy and comfort us. They make us laugh when they play or squeeze into a teeny, tiny space for a nap. And, like dogs, they do come when they’re called, if they’re in the mood. But their independence is one of the things I like best about them. To me, cats are always interesting.
We also need to spread the word that there are easy ways to keep cats from being destructive family members. It’s not hard to keep them from scratching the furniture, develop good litter box habits and shed less, much less. Cats don’t have to be as much work as people think they are. And they don’t have to be walked two or three times a day. That’s a real selling point to me, especially when there are two feet of snow on the ground!
This Crazy Cat Lady
A few weeks ago, a young cashier at a convenience store said he used to live in my neighborhood and remembered seeing me walk with my cats. “At first, I thought you were a crazy cat lady,” he said, “but then I decided you’re really cool.”I like being the cool cat lady, and I’m going to try to get the word out wherever I go. My cats walk with me, not because they’re like dogs, but because cats enjoy walking with their people, too. They usually come when I call them, again not because they’re like dogs but because they’re my friends, and they’re glad to see me. They don’t shed all over my condo because they eat mostly wet food, and I brush them often — that’s an activity we all enjoy. They use their litter boxes, not the rugs or the toaster ( I have to admit I did not appreciate PK doing that), because I have enough boxes that are comfortable and easy for them to use, and they’re in the right places. And they don’t shred my furniture because they have scratching posts and pads they like. Those, too, are in the right places. Scooping boxes isn’t so great, but neither is picking up after a dog.
Living with cats can be even easier and more fun than living with dogs is. We just have to let people know. We cat ladies need to speak up for our feline friends. Oh, and we need to keep those lint brushes handy so we never have cat hair on our clothes!