Why men and cats clash

Similarity’s at the root of their differences

As a male cat lover, I’ve often wondered why so many men seem disinclined to enjoy the company of cats.

There are many reasons to admire cats, starting with their ability to circumvent certain daily routines. For example, a cat never has to get dressed. True, when summer arrives, some cats do a natural and automatic version of taking off the sweater—we call it shedding—and, come winter, they put the sweater back on. But basically, cats always wear the same built-in outfit. Think of the time saved!

Cats are this efficient at many chores. When a cat takes a lick-bath, for instance, he also does his laundry. Well, technically, if a cat never disrobes, then he never really takes a bath. He only does the laundry. (And people told me getting a philosophy degree was a waste of time and money!)

Folk wisdom has it that guys like dogs and women like cats. Why? A man will tell you with satisfaction how his dog craves his love to the point of desperation. Cats, on the other hand, exhibit aloofness and independence. When they do give you affection, it is likely to be only on their terms.

Does this description of cats sound familiar? It should, because it’s also an apt description of men. Men pride themselves on their independence. And what major complaints about men do women make? Men don’t show enough affection. Men don’t talk about their feelings. Men don’t call back.

Here’s a thought experiment for women: If you went on a date with a cat, do you think he’d call you the next day? I didn’t think so. How about a dog? Riiiight.

Or try this one: If your cat could speak, would he talk to you about his feelings? Or remember your anniversary? What about your dog?

Case closed.

I have an aunt and uncle who always clashed, in part because they were too alike. My grandfather, a scientist, said they were “like two positive ions.” Could it be that men dislike cats because cats are too much like men?

Men complain that cats are lazy. Cats lie around, sleeping their day away. But what about the stereotypical Joe Sixpack? After work, he lies on the couch with his feet on the coffee table, a beer in one hand, remote control in the other, flipping between the NBA playoffs and French Open tennis. Meanwhile, his wife is hounding him to fix the toilet or the shelf or whatever else needs fixing.

But women know that there’s no point in badgering their cats this way. Cats don’t understand English, and even if they did, they would ignore her exhortations. So the cat gets off scot-free (he even enjoys free room and board!) for the same behavior that earns her husband a cacophony of nagging and criticism.

Perhaps this double standard accounts for men’s coolness toward felines. Man envies the cat, and rightly so. He knows who’s getting the sweeter deal.