In a thoughtful article over at Slate today, Katie Arnold-Ratliff writes about how a new trend in female-written memoirs plays off the notion that women who own dogs are outgoing, happy and somehow successful, whereas women who own cats are doomed to be miserable spinsters for all eternity. She says:
In these memoirs, dog women have it all (or at least they get it all by the end of the book, as in Klam’s case). For both Klam and Abramson, a dog (or several) is what completes an idyllic life—certainly not a cat, with its time-honored connotations of isolation and neurosis. Just as movies and TV shows never tire of telling us that cats are the purview of the sad-sack single girl, these books reiterate the notion that dogs go with family. Dogs are the sweet surprise you put under the tree for your kids. They’re friendly, sociable, fun-loving—not so different from what our culture seems to want of its women.
As a dog owner myself, I know that what Arnold-Ratliff says is true — we are superior. But even so, how awesome would it be if someone wrote a memoir about their cat?
Very awesome, that’s how.
And here’s why. Like Aronld-Ratliff later notes, cats are tempermental, unpredictable and moody. They will scratch you for no reason at all. Dogs, on the other hand — at least, the dogs that make it into memoirs — are happy, playful and well-adjusted. Cats exemplify the unpredictability of nature, the things we can’t control that make us uncomfortable. Dogs exemplify the good that we like to see in everything.
In other words, dogs make for good Disney movies, whereas cats make for a good film adaptation of a Hunter S. Thompson novel.
And that’s exactly why someone should write a cat memoir. For instance, I would greatly enjoy reading about the first time your new boyfriend came to your house and you were petting your cat (literally, get your mind out of the gutter), trying to demonstrate your spot-on maternal instincts, when suddenly she decided she was done with the petting so she scratched you across the eyeball.
That’s fucking hilarious. As an added bonus, going into a cat memoir, the reader doesn’t have to worry about the point in the book where their heart gets broken, because cats keep their emotions close to the vest. They’re the WASPs of the domesticated animal kingdom. They would sooner die alone with a gin martini than in any sort of public venue that would cause real emotions to occur. I respoect that about cats, I really do.
In short, I love your cat, so do you, and so you should write a book about her.