In the realm of stereotypes, it has long been supposed that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but that notion has always accompanied by the popularity of feline friends. The difference between diamonds and cats, however, is that the cat is thought to be the best friend of the lonely or “lesser” women – spinsters, widows, faux-witches, anti-social elderly women, Bridget Jones tropes, lesbians, and of course, feminists. Thankfully, the year is 2016, and the kind of people who find the listed women as lesser are swiftly having their behinds handed to them by the rising presence and achievements of said women. With that in mind, this is the recent story of how I learned to stop worrying and love the cat-cliché with the help of a feline best friend.
In terms of image, I truly was one cat away from becoming the ultimate cliché; I was already rocking my queer sexuality, feminist beliefs, socialist political activism, and aside from the cat, the only things missing were a Morrissey tattoo and a vegan slogan t-shirt. So as much as I loved cats (they’re just so damn fluffy), I was hardly in a rush to get one.
The cat in question came to me by chance one night, when my mother went outside to have a cigarette at about half ten, and a scrawny, damp kitten came running inside to escape the awful weather. We fed her and gave her somewhere to stay the night, and after a few days of the same routine (we put her back outside to return to her owner in the morning, she would come back as soon as I got in from university, and stay until we put her back out again the next morning), we came to accept that the cat was going to stay. She wasn’t chipped, she had no collar, and after extensive searching in lost and found pages as well as posting about the cat, it became clear that the previous owner(s) were really not bothered about the wellbeing of the kitten.
The impact she has since had has been surprisingly extensive considering the fact that my life only had to alter a small amount to accommodate her. Suddenly, waking up at all hours from insomnia was a lot less frustrating, because I was no longer awake without reason. Instead of simply awaiting sleep again, I could get up and cuddle this tiny kitten that would purr in approval. I could also do routine tasks like making sure she had a clean litter box and fresh water. I could force myself to revise properly whenever the cat was sleeping, because I knew that when she woke up she would want to play. Generally, having an adorable presence about the house to interact with was a great help in staving off depressive bouts.
The argument has already been made many times that cats are better than humans, but these theorists really are onto something. My cat (Mononoke) is a never-ending source of entertainment with her tendencies to attack her own tail and her battles with her arch-nemesis Henry Hoover. She’s a source of cuddly comfort, she acts as motivation for me to get work done without even trying, and contrary to what the Cats and Dogs film franchise may tell you, she really is very loyal. Humans are fallible and changeable by nature, and we’ve all had friends who grow into people we no longer recognise – they get into relationships and forget you exist, they move away and you no longer have anything in common, they get caught up in social drama and gossip, and suddenly the person you were friends with doesn’t exist any more. One of the pros of a cat friend is that there’s no chance of you coming home one day to find that Mister Tibbles has converted to the BNP and his new favourite hobby is ghost hunting.
Of course, it isn’t recommended that all human interaction is replaced with cat socialisation, because as cute as that would be, there would probably be some side effects like forgetting how to speak and losing all of your human friends. Thankfully, cats also improve your friendships with other people, because you can bond over the love of adorable animals. There are few conversations as fun as those that include circulating pictures of your friends’ puppies, gerbils, rats, fish, birds, snakes, other kittens, and just generally gushing over the loveliness of animal companions. If you happen to encounter someone who finds this prospect sickening, then your cat has assisted you, because nobody needs that kind of negativity in their life.
So, even now, as Mononoke clambers over my keyboard in an attempt to claim the laptop fan as her bed, I defend the idea that cats make the perfect best friends for humans. That’s not a statement of loneliness, or a sign that indicates a woman has no life, but a fabulous secret that the world needs to know. Ancient Egypt had the right idea.
Ultimately, unless you hate fun and happiness, I recommend that a rescue cat is the friend you’ve been waiting for all your life.