“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” —Jean Cocteau
It’s official, I’m a full-on cat lady. As I write this, my little Matilda is curled up on my legs quietly purring on this rainy winter day. Nothing warms my heart more than her greeting me when I walk though my front door. When I travel, I miss not having her by my side. I’ve tuned into all her behavior quirks and she has mine; we’re now highly in sync with each other’s schedules and habits. She’s become my family.
How did these elegant feline creatures find their way into our homes and what do they have to offer us once entering?
A History of Domestication
It’s believed that humans started domesticating cats 12,000 years ago in West Africa and the Middle East. Cats were handy for keeping away vermin, so proved useful companions, but so were other small mammals like badgers and foxes. Why did humans domesticate cats and not other wild mammals?
It may have come down to looks. With a small nose and big round eyes on the front of their faces, cats actually look like human babies. In particular, their physical features may trigger affection from women, who are biologically primed to care for babies (or creatures who look like them). Basically, cats were the cutest mouse-hunting option for humans, so into our homes they came.
Cats, while independent enough to be left home alone over a weekend get-away, still require a level of responsibility and commitment.
In my case, for years I had been telling everyone that I wanted to adopt a kitten, but something always got in my way; my roommate was allergic, landlord wouldn’t let me get one, I was traveling too much. Finally, when I relocated to LA, everything lined up perfectly to adopt one and within weeks I found the perfect little baby. I was in love. However, for the first few nights I lived with her, a surprising feeling came over me, a feeling of panic. Panic about the commitment I had made, the responsibility to have this creature in my life for upwards of the next 15 years.
Fortunately, as I fell increasingly in love with Matilda in the weeks and months that followed, any fear of commitment promptly faded and I was happily willing to invest time, energy and finances into taking good care of her.
Responsibility is good for us. It helps keeps us grounded. Cats, who can be both independent but also thrive when given affection, can be the perfect commitment option for an independent working woman.
Benefits of Nurturing
In exchange for the free food and cozy lounge furniture I offer my cat, she offers incredible companionship, stress relief and a calming presence.
Cats offer both psychological and biological health benefits. Psychologically, they can help lower stress, increase feelings of love and trust, and help reduce loneliness. More biological benefits include lowering risk of stroke, heart disease and heart attacks. They can lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol, while also helping to boost immunity.
Cats, who can be both independent but also thrive when given affection, can be the perfect commitment option for an independent working woman.
Making Cats Cool Again
“Crazy cat lady,” was once a slur, but long gone are the days of stigmatized cat ownership. Recently, cats surpassed dogs for pet ownership with somewhere between 70-96 million cats living as pets in America.
Instagram famous cats like Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub are headlining superstars at events like SXSW, CatCon and Cat Camp. Celeb cat owners like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Macklemore proudly declare their love for their feline family members for all the world to see. Youtube’s success was basically built on a foundation of kittens being adorable, Maru hopping into boxes and Keyboard Cat playing us off.
Face it, cats are on-trend.
Should I Adopt a Cat?
If you’re considering adopting a cat, and you’re ready to commit to creating a nurturing home for another creature, this may be one of the best decisions of your life. Consider adopting a rescue and make sure to spay or neuter it. Have a meaningful conversation with the employees at the shelter/rescue about your personality and the ideal personality and breed of a cat you’d like to bring into your home. They should be very helpful in guiding your decision. Feel free to take your time choosing, waiting to feel the “click.” You’ll know it when you feel it.
If already have a cat and also are a proud cat lady, shout it from the rooftops. There’s no shame in being wildly in love with your furry family member. Meowmaste.
Are you a cat person?
Images via Linda Hosmer