If you are looking for the perfect pet, one that will give you endless hours of delight and a lifetime of love, keep looking. Cats are not those pets. But cats are okay, so lay off them, man.
Earlier today, my opinionated and usually right-minded colleague Albert Burneko declared that cats are bad. While offering a well-reasoned argument, Mr. Burneko was selective with his facts, omitting any evidence that would have blown his conclusion out of the water. Cats, you see, are not bad. They’re fine.
I am the semi-proud owner of a perfectly competent cat. She’s cool enough. She doesn’t bother me. She sleeps a lot and occasionally does things and doesn’t actively hinder my life. She is a furry creature that I keep locked inside my apartment, and sometimes we acknowledge each other’s existence, but mostly we don’t. Sometimes she’s nice to me. She’s decent.
Some people let their cats outside. Some of those cats kill birds and rodents, and others run away or get hit by cars. Outdoor cats, much like indoor cats, are whatever.
I cannot for the life of me see how this satisfactory, mostly domesticated animal can inspire impassioned arguments from anyone. So a cat’s not going to tell you when Timmy’s trapped in the well, or scare off burglars. Maybe your expectations are unrealistic. That cat’s also not going to force you to take it for a walk in a hailstorm, or maul your baby. A cat is not a dog. It does not promise the highs or lows of dog ownership, but a pleasant middle ground of tolerable co-existence.
A cat poops in a box on your floor.
Before I adopted my own cat, I too bought into all the stereotypes of cat ownership. I thought they were smelly, snobby, worthless little hairball machines, and would spend their lives leaving tiny corpses in your shoes and sitting on your chest while you sleep and stealing your breath. I was only partially correct.
They also do lots of respectably amusing things, like look chagrined when they fall off of something, or make a funny little trill-meow when you touch them when they’re not expecting it. And sometimes they rub their little faces against your face, which is acceptably adorable, only they’ll never do it when anyone else is around and no one will ever believe you. Because the cat isn’t worried about impressing you. The cat really isn’t worried about much. The cat’s chill. And if you feel strongly about cats, on either side, you’re being way less chill about all this than the cat would be if it could be bothered, which it can’t. It has other stuff going on.
Cats aren’t dumb, like most other pets. They’re also not particularly smart, at least not as smart as some other pets. They’ll figure out where their food comes from, and how to get affection in the instances they want it, but, you know, they’re not exactly doing advanced algebra out here. Their brains are sufficient, just like the rest of them.
Sometimes cats barf for no reason. Also, some look like Hitler, but that’s not really their fault.
Cats are not bad. They’re not wonderful, either, because c’mon, cats. On the Dungeons & Dragons alignment grid, cats are True Neutral. But it’s okay to just exist. Look at you! You’re no great shakes yourself. You’d probably be more tolerable if you slept 20 hours a day.
This is something you need to understand: Your cat doesn’t need you. It was fine before you came along, it’ll be fine if you leave, and even when you’re around, it’s got other stuff going on. You’ll never be the center of your cat’s life, and you shouldn’t expect it to be the center of yours. (Have some self-respect, jeez. You’re embarrassing yourself in front of the cat.)
Cat hate, like its equally visceral cousin, cat love, is inherently illogical. It’s like arguing over whether beige is the worst color or the best color—it’s performative and pointless and just makes you look like the weird one. Cats are independent little beasts with cute faces and murder thoughts, and they make the internet go, and that’s good enough. Cats are good enough.