Editor defies male stereotypes as proud owner of fluffy kitty

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

I am a man.

I have a cat.

And I’m proud of it!

While this may not seem to be a huge declaration to most of you, for some, it may come as a shock. Men are supposed to own dogs, not cats. Cats are apparently more feminine animals (I’m not sure why … perhaps it’s the constant grooming). Dogs are masculine with their love of tossed balls, pooping on the lawn and raw meat (all things I also enjoy). Last year, when I wrote a short story about a man who loved cats for a creative writing class, the main character was derided as unrealistic. Why? Because men don’t love cats! Men are dog people!

Well, I love dogs, but I also love cats. My cat is a fun-loving party animal! She’ll eat and eat and eat and eat and then sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep. This sounds like the ideal daily schedule to me! I’m sure some of you will agree.

I’m not anti-dog; I just have a small apartment. If I had a golden retriever or something, it would run around and knock over all the furniture. Then, my wife would be very angry, since most of our furniture is breakable (her idea-she apparently had never seen how much trouble I have walking; now I live in constant fear of falling through our glass coffee table). Plus, our upstairs neighbors own a dog. If we had a dog, the two would smell each other and we’d never hear the end of it.

I do plan on getting a dog someday, probably when I have kids. To my mind, dogs are not more masculine animals-they are good animals for kids. Don’t get me wrong. I would love to take my dog to the park and toss Frisbees and such, but why not have kids to do it for me so I can sleep? Cats keep to my schedule a little better. If I want to sleep all day, my cat has no problem with this. She thinks it’s the best idea she’s ever heard.

As a child, I grew up on a farm where I became acquainted with both species (as well as parakeets, horses, pigs, cattle and various other animals, though that’s a story for another time). However, most of the dogs we had ended up having to be “dealt with” because of their love of biting and/or otherwise maiming human beings. I can kind of see where they were coming from. After all, we wanted the dogs to be good watch dogs who would bite intruders. It’s not exactly like dogs are great intellectuals who can distinguish between intruders and everybody else. “If I’m biting that guy, why can’t I bite the whiny kid?” thought many of my dogs, I’m sure.

When I was a child, we also had many cats. Unfortunately, these cats all descended from two cats my parents had taken in in the ’70s. If you don’t understand why this is a problem, I understand courses in genetics are offered on this campus somewhere. Go on and take one!

At any rate, the constant inbreeding resulted in cats that all developed a debilitating illness which caused them to stop eating and covered their eyes, noses and mouths in mucus. Oftentimes, a visit to the cat shed would reveal as many as 15 cats, curled up in old, musty hay, wheezing and hacking and trying to breathe. We tried to treat their disease (which I lovingly called “the scat,” though it’s really known as distemper), but it never really worked out and our farm was sans cats for a while. Recently, my parents have taken in more kittens and had another go at it. This version of Cat Farm seems to have gone much better.

I, however, have learned that cats don’t always sneeze on you and they are great for sleeping at the end of the bed. This is why I am happy to announce that I am a cat man and will stay this way until I get a.) kids, b.) a dog or c.) a camel.

Todd VanDerWerff is the editor-in-chief of this rinky-dink publication. Talk to him about his favoritest cat at [email protected].