On cats and the Y chromosome
Women are bad with directions and men hate cats. Or so they say. Though, culturally speaking, we readily buy into these not-so-truisms, we also understand them to be misogynstic generalizations.
After all, I can find my way out of a mangrove maze without a compass or a GPS and navigate any city with near-perfect aplomb. My boyfriend shows a similar ability to buck these sex-linked traits by keeping two wonderful cats he’s had since vet school. He’s just a cat kind of a guy.
But the stats really are kind of sexist (in the broad sense of the word). In my personal practice, female feline owners outnumber male custodians by at least ten to one. Probably more. And most women I know couldn’t point out the northeast corner of an intersection without thinking about it for a few seconds. Probably more.
Let’s stick to the cat thing, though. Because this blog is about animals and this post is about cats...and their men (or would-be men).
So let’s investigate: Why do men––in general, now––gravitate to dogs more than to cats? Why do some actually harbor an unnecessary hatred of the species? I mean, you never hear a woman say things like, “damned cats fester like mangy rats.” You never hear about female “Cat Killers” like the one who recently terrorized my city.
Even when it’s not aimed at individual cats, men tend to dislike cats as a species. For example, they’re more likely to hold feral and free-roaming cats in high disregard while women more often hold that cats are the victims of human-kind and therefore worthy of special considerations.
Is it, as conventional wisdom goes, that women are more cat-like and men more dog-like? Is it an issue of gender/species identification?
Hmmm...I’m not so sure...
In any case, it definitely seems as if men might more readily buy into the results of a recent study on feline genetics and domestication:
Cats are more attached to places than they are to people. Cats don’t perform “directed tasks.” Feline “utility” in the human world is “debatable, even as mousers.”
Authored by a man, of course. (But criticized by at least one, too.) The upshot on this study as for many others related to felines and male/female gender disparities tend to point to more of the same: Men and women are different. On this we agree. But why?
And, more to the point, what is it about felines that mines these disparities so fruitfully?