We have all heard the stereotype of the single woman who has many cats and showers her love on them in lieu of seeking a relationship with a man. But is there any truth to this stereotype?
Statistically, it is not true that more single women raise cats. Households of parents with children are twice as likely to own a cat! The cat population in the United States is rising in general, and the NY Times claims there is an increase in cat ownership amongst single males.
So, why does this myth persist? Probably because it makes sense that single women would shower their affection on their cats. Cats are independent, affectionate and loyal. Womens’ nurturing instincts can be put into good use taking care of cats, especially rescue and injured ones. Cats are easier to take care of then dogs, and as many single women have demanding jobs they are likely to choose a cat as a companion. Elderly women will also find caring for a cat a satisfying and not too difficult task. Due to the difference in lifespans between men and women, there are more widowed women out there than men.
The negative stereotype of women and cats is also reflected in etymology. It is interesting to note that many words related to cats are negative ways of referring to women: kitten (a sexy girl), cougar (an older woman who likes young men), catty (being spiteful and malicious–generally used to describe women) and, of course, pussy.
The “crazy cat lady” stereotype is damaging both to women and to cats and should be abolished. Both men and women enjoy sharing their lives with cats and can maintain healthy human relationships in addition to loving their pets.