I have long resisted writing about cats. I fear the backlash, I fear the misinterpretation, I fear being viewed as a soulless animal-hater. But whatever, because, ew, cats.
I don’t know exactly what it is about cats that repels me: the concept of a kitty litter, or that screeching sound (I have never heard a cat make anything near a “meow” sound – so please, spare me), or the way they sneak up on you when you least expect it. All of it, really, just gives me the heebie jeebies.
Until a few years ago, I simply thought of cats as undesirable creatures owned by other people. If a cat-owning friend suggested making plans, I might offer to cook at my place. If someone launched into a conversation about pets, I could avert the conversation from cats and go on about the various dogs I had growing up: the dog tried to attack me, the dog I am convinced committed suicide, and so on. Cats could be avoided.
But thanks to the World Wide Web, I can no longer hide from the cats.
If you are an avid user of the Internet, you should be well aware of the prevalence of cats on web pages. I am assuming, if you are reading this, that you do fit into this category of avid Internet user. Either that, or you are an old spinster who has recently acquired a computer and by some virtue of mis-Googling, you happened upon my anti-cat tirade. In any event, moving on.
Like old people on Facebook, the cats are now a part of every day life on the Internet. In other words, they’re impossible to avoid. Every time one cat-bearing window closes, another one opens. Look here, someone posted a picture of a cat with the caption, “I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER,” or something. Oh, over there, a YouTube video of a cat dressed in miniature, cat-size Victorian clothing. Why, oh why?
I thought for a while that the fixation with cats was merely an Internet meme. I thought “the cat thing” was something that I might only have to be exposed to in the online realm, in which case, when an email or tweet or Facebook link pointed me to a cat, I could simply ignore it. Sure, I thought, you can email me a picture of your cat sunbathing but you can’t make me look at it.
I thought: you can’t go to a cocktail party or a social event and start talking about cats nowadays, right?
Wrong. I’m afraid cats have made the crossover.
Suddenly, cats started appearing all over, in real life. Like last year, for example, there was a nice girl who was in all of my classes. I thought we might become friends, until she started talking lovingly about cats all the time. When she started wearing a denim vest with felt cat cutouts sewed on, I knew our burgeoning friendship was doomed.
I thought at least my family was with me on this one. At dinner with my parents the other night, we ordered a bottle of wine. When the bottle arrived, the waitress wanted to show us that the label had a big picture of a CAT on it, because the vineyard owners had a cat or something. At this point, I turned to my mother and expected some solidarity: “Don’t cats creep you out?” I asked. “Not really!” she said. “When I was in college, I had a cat named Monster.” My mother, a cat owner! I couldn’t believe it. At least it was aptly named Monster.
The worst of it all came when I dated a guy whose roommate had a hairless cat. It was repulsive and sinister, of the Mr. Wrinkles or Mr. Bigglesworth variety. It followed me to the bathroom, it screeched at inopportune times. It was first-rate creepy.
At the same time, I do know others whose disaffection for cats makes mine seem rather acute. A friend of mine, on vacation in Greece, where stray cats roam the streets, recounts having to stand on chairs each time the cats neared her table. My aversion is not so extreme.
Because my distaste for felines is mild enough, I particularly fear the backlash. I have no “reason” for not being down with cats: I am not allergic nor has a cat ever hurt me in any way. Which makes it all the more difficult to wax poetic about why I simply don’t want to see any more tweets or links about cats. But each time I go all anti-cat, I know I run the risk of rejection and leper status in the online realm.
If I am now viewed as a heartless cat-hater, so let it be. At least people will stop sending me their “Happy Caturday” videos.