I love my cat, Sugar, and I know that in her own way she loves me. However, the other day I reached to pet her when she was lying next to me and her response was to try to bite me. I realize it would’ve been an instructive nip, trying to teach me to let a sleeping cat lie, but nevertheless, I started lecturing her: “You better watch yourself, sister. I’m the one who nurtures and feeds you. You don’t do shit in this relationship.”
As the words left my mouth, I was struck with how many relationships in my life that statement applied to. I realized how much living with a cat is like living with some of the men in my past. I won’t name names, but as I reviewed what it’s like living with Sugar, I can’t help but see a lot of similarities.
The cat knocks things over and makes messes all over the house. I clean them up while she watches, probably plotting the next mess she’s going to make. There is an assumption on her part that no matter how big of a mess she makes I will clean up her messes. I have known men who make this same assumption, whether the mess is literal or figurative. They make the messes; I clean them up.
When the cat is hungry, she follows me around the house, mewing to advise me it’s time to feed her. When I present her with her food, she knocks me out of the way to snarf it down as quickly as possible. When she’s done, she walks away and leaves me to clean her food dish and wipe up any spills that may have occurred. I have known men who assume that their meals appear and clean themselves up by magic.
She gives and receives attention on her terms only. Recently, she curled up next to me and I absent-mindedly reached over to stroke her fur. My hand and arm were immediately surrounded by four paws, claws extended, and teeth dug into my skin. God forbid I try to reach out to her for comfort. When I have tried to cuddle when I’m sad, she moves away as quickly as possible, often voicing her displeasure as she slinks away. I have experienced this same behavior with a number of men in the past.
When the cat is sick, I am the one that takes care of her and administers whatever care she needs. If I am sick, she acts like nothing’s going on. If she spoke words, they would be, “Nothing to see there.” Unfortunately, there are men in this world who behave the same way. They just don’t seem to comprehend that they’re not the only ones that get sick.
Cats are relatively amoral; they don’t really care who they sleep with and when they do. The act of sleeping with someone has nothing to do with the rest of her life; she feels no guilt or remorse. To her credit, she doesn’t seem to care who I sleep with either. I am convinced that human cheaters have the same ability to separate sex from emotion and do not see what outside sex has to do with a relationship.
If another cat appears interested in Sugar’s territory, there is a great hissing and carrying on. I have never let it get to the point of actual contact, but she has made it quite clear she has no intention of sharing her space. I have to acknowledge that no one likes to share the person or territory they have special feelings for. However, I have known plenty of men who could care less about their relationship until someone else shows a little interest.
If I have the audacity to try and focus on anything other than the cat, she objects immediately. If I try to write, she has her nose pressed up against the screen of my laptop; if I try to read, her head is placed on the page; if I try to sketch, she tries to grab the pencils and if she is able to get one, she runs away with it. The “don’t pay attention to anything but me,” phenomenon has definitely been a common denominator in men I have known.
But, when Sugar jumps up on the couch, curls up next to me, and reaches her paw out to rest it on my thigh; I melt. She, much like the men I have dated, has found that a little affection means a lot to me. A few moments of cuddling goes a long way towards motivating me to continue to be the caregiver and problem solver in our relationship.
I have talked to a few friends about my cat/man theory and while most have laughed, a few have said that they date dogs. In their theory, dogs are dumb but happy; cats are smart but fickle. Personally, I prefer a little independence in my pets and my men. I really don’t want someone who wants to be with me 24/7 like dogs do. I like a little fickleness.
I realize that there are people who have spent decades happily coupled with another person. It’s not anything I’ve been able to achieve and it’s really not anything I am interested in pursuing at this time in my life, but I admire how they are able to have that kind of a commitment. I also realize that all of the traits I have enumerated above and pertain to women as often as they do to men. I am relating my experiences, not condemning one sex or another.
I love my cat, much like I have loved the men in my past. I can’t imagine not having her to come home to. For me though, right now, living with a cat is enough of a commitment for this woman.