A (wo)man’s purrfect friend

Maria Rovito
Assoc. Opinion Editor

My Saturday evening consisted of the usual relaxation methods: curled up on my sofa watching whatever the television set had to offer. My ten-year-old Maine Coon cat, Oreo, is purring at my side while I rub his cheekbones.
Suddenly, my mom walks into the room and asks me, “Are you going to hang out with anyone this weekend?” I simply respond by shaking my head “no.” She sighs, and tells me, “You are going to get old and become one of those crazy, lonely, desperate cat ladies!”
To be called a “cat lady” by my own mother didn’t seem to faze me at the time. I assumed she implied that I will always have a cat as a pet instead of a dog, which is true.
Look up the phrase “cat lady” on Wikipedia, however, and the label isn’t so genial. According to Wikipedia, a “cat lady” is “a single woman who dotes upon her cat or cats, linked with romantically-challenged (often career-oriented) women who can’t find a man, related to the concept of spinsterhood.”
Reading this, I felt almost insulted by my computer. To label a woman who enjoys owning cats as pets as a “spinster” who can’t find a man is nothing short of pejorative.
According to Urban Dictionary, the term “cat lady” refers to “an old woman who lives alone with multiple cats and smells of cat urine. The cats’ names will often be similar to ‘FooFoo’ or ‘Mr. Snookums.’”
Eleanor_AbernathyEven in the popular show, “The Simpsons”, Eleanor Abernathy is the character who is always surrounded by stray cats, her clothes are always covered in dirt, and she speaks gibberish instead of complete sentences. On the Simpsons’ Wiki page, however, Eleanor Abernathy was a lawyer and doctor who studied at Harvard and Yale, and who never married.
In general, the phrases that relate to a woman who owns cats is defined as “single”, “romantically-challenged”, “career-oriented”, “spinster”, “old”, and “lives alone.” Is this our society’s way of putting down single women who have pets?
Simply put, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman being single. It is truly an important ability to be comfortable by your lonesome, although our culture might think otherwise.
The idea that being “career-oriented” isn’t a positive thing was a concept that civilization created for women. In fact, calling a man “career-oriented” is a compliment; it implies that he has responsibility, determination, and the drive to earn a good paycheck. Call a woman “career-oriented”, however, and it implies that she doesn’t want to stay home to take care of her kids or family.
Using the terms “single”, and “career-oriented” to describe these “cat ladies” is our society’s way of making successful women seem desperate, lonely, and isolated. Girls, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being single, or focusing on your college career instead of getting married.

Maria Rovito and her cat, Oreo.
Maria Rovito and her cat, Oreo.

This label of “cat ladies” then, is nothing but a method to stereotype women who would rather focus on a career than raising a family, while also owning cats as pets. If society is so uncomfortable with a woman being successful at her job than a successful wife or mother, then our society needs a complete overhaul on how we view single women.
Focusing on my classes, my future career plans, and my part-time job are more important for me than finding a boyfriend or having kids. And yes, I would rather spend my free time with a cat who would love me unconditionally rather than a boyfriend who will eventually break up with me.
If that makes me a “cat lady” then so be it. Truthfully, there is nothing I look forward to more after a long day of class or a nine-hour shift than coming home to a quiet peaceful house with my cat waiting for me at the door.