In a conversation with some of my gal friends ages ago, I remember casually mentioning that I avoid men who love dogs but hate cats, because I think it’s a red flag. I’m convinced (fairly or otherwise) these men feel entitled to unearned obedience and unconditional love, and they probably have some internalised issues with women. Plus, I don’t trust their understandings of consent.
Turns out, this is actually a ~controversial~ opinion that you can’t just casually drop in conversation. Apparently I shouldn’t go around accusing people of misogyny because they don’t like cats (oops). But since I will die on this hill, I figured why not make it productive and do a deep dive so y’all can also be safe from cat-hating men? So, friends, let’s get into it.
Remember being a kid and thinking cats are girls and dogs are boys? Makes sense since it’s pretty common for cats to be feminine and dogs to be masculine in all kinds of cartoons. But actually, the world has been associating cats with women/femininity for yonks (literally, there are studies on this), and it comes up everywhere from marketing to witch hunts.
Even our language groups women with cats – think the word ‘pussy’or even ‘catty’, which we only use for mean or spiteful women.
And don’t even get me started on the term ‘crazy cat lady’ and the sexist hatred society has for women who have cats but not children – because felines symbolise a deviance from child bearing roles, which must be evil and witchy, right? There literally isn’t a male equivalent, nor is there an equivalent for dogs, which are just “man’s best friend.” Yeah, okay.
You may be wondering, what has this got to do with men and red flags? Well, it’s important to note that a lot of people already have underlying preconceived biases that feminise cats – and then, when they hate cats, my personal (and maybe chaotic) view is that they’re actually projecting an internalised hatred for femininity instead. Which for a man is obvs a red flag.
Cats get negatively stereotyped in suspiciously similar ways to women
Why do people hate cats? From asking around in my own circles (and reading way too many Facebook threads in pet groups online), cat haters usually complain that cats are unpredictable, crazy, sneaky, scheming, evil, mean, manipulative and that their behaviour makes no sense… which sounds a lot like the negative stereotypes we associate with women.
The thing is…cats are very independent and protect their bodies/space. You don't get to touch them or play with them just cuz u feel like it. They have to consent. They have to trust you and also be in the mood. People don't like that.
— KITTENS (@iamKITTENS) June 16, 2020
Let me give you an IRL example: a dog wagging its tail is typically a sign of happiness or excitement. Pretty much everyone knows that regardless of if they have a dog because the patriarchy is a man’s/dog’s world (wow, never though I’d say that).
For cats, tail-wagging is actually a sign of overstimulation or annoyance, and it basically means “stop whatever the fuck you are doing and back off.”
The thing is, people don’t bother learning about cats, and just assume they are like dogs, which means they take the tail wagging to be encouragement. The kitty lashes out, gives a scratch to defend itself, cat haters take this as irrational behaviour that couldn’t possibly have been predicted, and now all cats are evil little monsters that get joy out of hurting people.
May I take this moment to remind you that society also likes to tell us that women are ‘complicated’ creatures, and that men will never really know what’s going on in their heads? That women’s responses to violation are confusing, and that it’s not men’s fault for violating women’s boundaries because women just give mixed signals? When actually, maybe if you just took the time to talk to women and get to know them as individuals, we wouldn’t have this issue?
This is a huge part of why men who hate cats are a red flag for me – because their dislike is steeped in a refusal to actually listen, learn and empathise with the creature, and if someone isn’t going to bother understanding why a cat is hissing at them, they sure as hell aren’t going to listen to me explain why I’m mad at them either.
A lot of y’all sound like incels, and it’s weird
A lot of hatred towards felines is venomous and cruel in ways that we not only accept but normalise, which we would never tolerate for dogs. When someone hates dogs, there’s mass outrage, and we see it as some kind of irrational or defective behaviour. When someone hates cats, that’s fair and their preference, I guess?
I’ve noticed a pattern where some people who love cats over dogs have stances like: “yeah dogs are cool, I like cats more though”. But people who love dogs and dislike cats tend to say things like: “I love dogs, they’re the best. Felines are evil BEASTS and should be eradicated.”
I think it’s important to note how fucking rabid some people are in their quest to let the whole world know they hate cats, like it’s some kind of personality trait. Often cat hate is vitriolic and violent – which checks out not just socially but historically. Cats have been sacrificed, killed or tortured over centuries in ways dogs haven’t (like the witchcraft thing earlier), and are statistically more abused than dogs.
The amount of people who I've allowed in my space to meet my cats who have this preconceived notion that all cats are evil and gonna attack them, just needed a lesson on how to understand the way cats show their consent. No one has been attacked/injured/scratched
— KITTENS (@iamKITTENS) June 16, 2020
Cat-haters will take a negative experience with a cat and use it to frame the entire species as cold/cruel/mean. Does that sound familiar? Because if you are a woman that dates men, you have 100% heard that before.
There’s a really weird, visceral violence to some cat hate that parallels the talking-points we see from incel types about women, and that shit is a red flag I refuse to be associated with.
Basically, don’t date men who hate cats
So there you go besties, your guide to avoiding misogynists based on their hatred of the wee kitty. If he can’t be bothered learning to read a cat’s behaviour, then he won’t bother learning yours. If he hates cats AND love dogs, just likes obedience and doesn’t have a single critical thought behind those pretty eyes. Dump him xoxo.