Women with cats are cool.
In fact, nothing beats Kim Novak’s performance as Gillian the witch in “Bell, Book and Candle.”
The way she moves, the jewel-like glow of her eyes as she casts her love spell on Jimmy Stewart’s Shep … all these things make her the embodiment of “Cat.” Even Pywacket, her Siamese familiar, comes in 2nd as far as essential “catness” is concerned.
A Long History
Cats and women have been clicking since ancient times. Several goddesses had cat connections and/or the ability to turn into cats:
- Bast (Egypt)
- Freya (Scandinavia)
- Hecate and Artemis (Greece)
- Ceridwen (Wales)
The connection remains a powerful one. “Cats add style to women in a way that men can only envy,” quips Nola Higgs, a longtime Abyssinian lover. “A woman will look into the soulful eyes of a cat and instinctively know how to read the emotions, respond in kind and even keep her distance if the cat needs ‘time out’ from humans. This is something the average man finds perplexing, to say the least.”
Partners in Independence
Cat women — or, as writer Kim Cady calls them, “cat-proud women” — are fiercely independent. Like their feline compatriots, they’re not big on being told what to do.
In the early 1900s, a number of British postcards were released that showed cats wearing “Votes for Women” buttons and suffragette colors (purple, white and green). At first glance, these postcards seem charming, But they were put out by publishers who were violently against the women’s suffrage movement and actually depicted “suffragettes as irrational cats,” explains Rachel Tavernor of the University of Sussex.
She continues, “The gendered representation of cats, and their association to the domestic sphere, was used to ‘portray suffragettes as silly, infantile, incompetent and ill-suited to political engagement. The relative cheapness of the postcard, and the humor used, ensured that the images [were] widely circulated (similar to internet memes).”
During the 2017 Women’s Marches, however, protesters breathed new life — and new meaning — into the woman-feline equation.
Among the many cat posters that appeared in the various marches, 1 in particular stood out: 3 cats are shown standing upright, their front paws linked in solidarity, where 2 are doing power-to-the-paw salutes and 1 is wearing a pink scarf. Over their heads is 1 word: “RESPECT.”
Turning a Stereotype Around
We’re all familiar with the cat lady stereotype.
Well, 2 years ago, photographer BriAnne Wills shot a series called “Girls and Their Cats.” The series included a wide array of New York women — actresses, songwriters, illustrators, copywriters, professionally trained dancers, hypnotherapists, taxidermists — and the cats who had found them.
She also included the adoption stories. “In this photo series I wanted to capture the sweet bond that exists between women and their feline friends,” says Wills. “Also, I wanted to show that cat ladies are not crazy, but cute and stylish.” She wanted “to showcase cat ladies in a positive light.”
The women in the photos are warm, funny, thoughtful, playful and free-spirited. And there’s not a scruffy bathrobe or a set of hair curlers among them.
Women, according to a 2011 study by the University of Vienna, are more apt to interact with their cats. “In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners,” co-author Manuela Wedl maintained at the time. Women, she believed, “have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners.”
This cat really wants to connect with the human way of life:
The Connection Endures
You know, it’s not so much that women with cats are cooler than men with cats. The latter are actually very cool, very intelligent and very sexy in their own right. (Ask the multitudes of women who swooned over George Harrison and John Lennon if you don’t believe me.)
Maybe it’s that women simply identify with something that cats represent. Or, as Higgs puts it, “To paraphrase Jane Austen, a woman with a deep ache in her heart and possessed of a kind and gentle spirit must be in need of a cat. Nothing else will make her heart so joyous and complete.”
And when you’re acting out of a place of joyousness and completeness — when you’re taking back your power — you’re very cool indeed.
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