Everyone has heard that the dog is “man’s best friend.” Everyone has also heard about “crazy cat ladies.” Those are the stereotypes, that men prefer dogs and women prefer cats. And yet I know men who love cats, and I’m sure many of you do too. For that reason, and because every time I have solicited stories from pet owners only women have responded, I recently put out a call specifically to men who own cats. I wanted to know why men like cats, how they came to own their cats, and so forth. The response was astounding! What follows are the heartfelt and quirky tales that I received about men and their cats.
Erik Waiss grew up with cats. When he left college, he specifically searched for rentals that allowed them. Now 40, Erik has two cats. One is a twelve-year-old Lilac Point (also called Lavender Point) Siamese named Clive. The other is an estimated three-year-old orange tabby named Lucky. Eric says the cats not only keep him “sane”, but they also but also routine tasks such as feeding and grooming them help keep him focused. Eric describes himself as his cats’ “walking heating pad”; the cats find a way to be near or on Eric, and “it’s impossible to poop alone….” Eric sometimes builds cardboard forts for them.
I recently lost another orange tabby named Schrodinger. After his death, I realized that through my relationships, family, work, and so on, that I had spent more of my time with this cat than any other living thing. It really hit hard.
What does Erik like best about cats? They’re convenient. While he doesn’t often leave town, it’s a relief to know that he can be gone for a few days without the cats will getting overly anxious or destroying the house. They show the right amount of affection. The cats don’t need him around every second, and so won’t slobber and jump upon his return, but they do like to play and hang out with him.
Doug Bedell has also owned cats most of his life. When he married, he and his wife started out with an orange tabby named Maxwell. One of Maxwell’s favorite activities was harassing the neighbor’s beagle, which Doug says the neighbors thought was hilarious. Since Maxwell’s death, the Bedells have adopted many other cats, mostly from The Cat House. One cat was an orphaned tabby; Hallam wasn’t weened when his mother was killed in the Hallam tornado, and the Bedells had to quickly learn how to bottle feed a kitten.
This past summer, Jude died. He was black except for a splotch of white fur by his privates. I dearly miss him. Whenever I came home, he’d be waiting at the door. At bedtime he’d climb on my chest to be scratched. After about five minutes, he’d go curl up by my shoulder and fall asleep.
Currently, the Bedells have two cats. One is Penny. She is playful but loves to curl up on a lap and take a snooze. The other is Bourbon, who was rescued from a domestic violence situation. Doug described Bourbon’s previous home life as “was so bad that he doesn’t trust the two-footed varieties.” He added, “He does love his ice cream and bedtime treats though! We love him just the way he is.”
What does Doug like best about cats? That they’re independent. Like many owners, Doug appreciates that cats can be left alone with food and water if he and his wife take a weekend trip. He also likes that they have attitude. “Dogs are here to serve us. We are here to serve cats.”
Roger Simonsen also grew up in a family that owned cats and currently has two cats. One is a twenty-year-old Himalayan mix named Patty and the other is an eleven-year-old male Russian Blue/Maine Coon named Fez. Roger spends time with his two cats through daily routines such as feeding them, petting them, dancing with them (where he holds them and swings them to the music), and having them sleep on him more nights than not. He also goes outside with them.
His current cats are proof that feline personalities are complex. Roger’s 20-year-old cat jumped on the hot open oven door when she was a kitten–and has never repeated that mistake again. Once or twice a year, Patty gets a ‘lion cut’ to help keep matts out of her coat, and invariably it turns her into a “much chipper kitten-like cat and boosts her energy”. Patty is generally “all business” but has become a little more vulnerable and in need of nurturing in her senior years. She also likes laying by the air ducts in the winter to “get a shot of warm air on her back”.
In the summer of 2014, my cat Patty woke me up around 4 a.m. I noticed I was having a little trouble breathing and then some tingling in my left arm and slight chest pressure. After a little while I decided to drive myself to the hospital and sure enough I was having a major heart attack. Because I got to the hospital quickly I had very little consequences from the heart attack which was 100% blockage of the widow maker artery. I credit Patty with getting me up and perhaps saving my life or at least [saving me from] much worse consequences from the incident.
In contrast to Patty, Roger describes eleven-year-old Fez as “a bit like a dog in that he’s bulky and will push his way into my lap”. An outdoor cat, when Fez wants to come inside he stands up against one of the porch windows and “paws like a bear” to get Roger’s attention. Fez also likes to visit a neighbor’s cat and is considered the “Fonz” in his area; all the other cats always want to be around him.
What does Roger like best about cats? They require modest maintenance. Yes, they have some needs, but they can handle being left alone too. When Roger has tasks to take care of at home, his cats don’t interfere with his work. He also likes that cats “have an inward quality in terms of their demeanor”.
Tony Slupe, unlike Erik and Roger, grew up as a “dog guy”. In fact, he didn’t even like cats when he rescued Spooker three years ago. Then, a year and a half ago, he rescued a pregnant cat. He found homes for the two kittens, but he kept the mama and named her Boo. While Tony contends that he only has cats because right now he doesn’t have time for a dog, his two cats have grown on him. He plays with them all the time when he’s home. And they monopolize his bed when he sleeps. For Tony, saving them has given him a purpose.
Josh Grondin not only grew up with dogs but he even trained them. Eleanor Ginger Miriam changed all this, when she was rescued from a parking garage and brought into the vet office where Josh works. Josh couldn’t say no to her after she fell asleep on his shoulder. Ellie asks for attention from Josh not just for food but also for cuddles. One of her favorite things is “being a parrot” and riding around on Josh’s shoulders while he does dishes, laundry, and other household tasks.
Ellie is creepy in that when I shower, she just stares at me. While on the toilet, she lays in the sink…
Josh affectionately describes Ellie as a “little brat who picks on her older brother, a nine-year-old German Shepherd”. Ellie joins Jackson and Josh for walks a couple of times a week. “She loves to pounce on Jackson and then scurry away. It’s how she plays chase.” Josh also refers to Ellie as the most stubborn “dog” that he’s trying to train.
One of the reasons Josh kept Ellie was to be a companion for Jackson, who has terrible separation anxiety: “I go through a doorknob a month because of it.” Ellie and Jackson are perfect for each other. “They love each other, sleep together, and it is the best paring for me. He has company, she gets a big fluffy heater to sleep on.” Ironically, Ellie is now the one suffering from separation anxiety, but not from Josh: “When Jackson goes out to the bathroom, she’s at the back door screaming her head off because she’s separate from him. Never thought that’d happen. It’s cute, adorable, and sometimes annoying when it’s five a.m. and I’m trying to get ready for work.”
What does Josh like best about cats? It’s a lengthy list! “Their mannerism, feistiness, vocalization, longevity, etc. Each one is different and it’s about finding a bond with them, especially if they are young. They are mysterious beings who do what they want.”
Cats have a completely different dynamic than dogs. Their life is meant to please themselves while dogs please their owner. It’s a new adventure and I’ve enjoyed every moment….
Jake Kucera and his wife have three cats, but he hadn’t started out as a cat guy. That all changed when Marley came into his life. Marley had been found under a bush by a previous girlfriend. When Jake and Marley met, they instantly bonded. After Jake and his girlfriend split up, she offered Marley to Jake. “After the whole move out was over, Marley was so stressed out that he got sick. He needed me then; just like I needed him. He helped me through one of the toughest times in my life and I don’t know what I’d have done without him waiting for me at home every day after work.”
Marley is a one-of-a-kind kitty. He’s the greatest and there will never be another like him.
Marley is now nine-years-old, but Jake says he’s still just as devoted as he was as a kitten. The first thing Jake does when he gets home is pick Marley up, bury his ear into Marley’s chest, and listen to Marley’s purrs. Later, wherever Jake is sitting, Marley likes to jump into his lap and fall asleep. He also likes to curl above Jake’s head on the pillow at night.
My wife wants me to point out that I now live in a house with cats, a dog, chinchillas, and skunks. She’s an animal person and says Marley helped make me more of an animal person as well!
Russ Herstein and his wife have three cats. Chloee is a calico that had been adopted by his wife before their marriage, Claude is an orange tabby born with syndactyly of the front paws that was an adopted from a friend who fostered for Nebraska Humane Society, and Zoee is a gray tabby that came from his wife’s great-uncle’s barn. The cats enjoy cuddling with the couple, tossing toys around, and chasing a laser pointer. Each have their own quirks. Chloee loves to visit people in the bathroom, Zoee will eat almost any human food, and Claude is fearless, “even with his deformed paws”.
I find them soothing to be around, unless they are running up and down the hallway at 2 a.m. It’s a real thing!
Brandon Langlois has four cats: Little, Olivia, Thatch, and Rowan. When Brandon started dating, his fiancée had already adopted Little and Olivia from The Cat House. Then the couple fell in love with Rowan, one of many kittens up for adoption at a local pet store, and decided to adopt him too. Around the same time, the Nebraska Humane Society was waiving adoption fees for older cats, and the couple went there to see which cats were available. When Thatch was brought to them, the one-eyed cat immediately started to purr and meow and knead the floor with his paws. It was instant love!
Thatch used to be an alley cat, so he is always looking for more food and is very persistent when he wants to get it. One time, we had left a pizza box where he was able to get to it, and he had made it his mission to steal some. At a moment when we were looking away, he ran over, popped the box lid up, and grabbed a slice in his mouth. Unfortunately, the pizza place hadn’t cut it very well and he wound up yanking the entire thing, box and all, to the ground. He still tried taking the slice with him but had to give up and hide under the bed for the rest of the night.
What does Brandon like best about cats? They are affectionate! Usually one or two of the cats will snuggle regularly with Brandon when he’s playing a game or watching a show. Little will climb on the couch behind Brandon with his paw on Brandon’s shoulder, or purr and knead his fiancée’s stomach. Thatch will follow Brandon around the house like a dog. He also likes to sleep on Brandon’s head at night.
I really encourage people to try to adopt older cats. They don’t get nearly as much attention at the shelter as kittens, but people who skip them are missing out. For one thing, a kitten’s personality can be a bit of a mystery, but you know what you’re getting with an adult cat.
Jason Levine also has four cats. Inika is the oldest, Sinta and Chauncey are Torties, and Zoe is a gray tabby. The bond that Jason shares with each is unique to their personality. For example, Jason created an album that shows the adventures he’s shared with Inika. Inika even had a cat camera at one point and took some photos of Jason. The two Torties keep more to themselves, but there are times when they want attention and affection too. As the youngest and newest arrival, Zoe’s still adjusting to the pecking order in the house and constantly underfoot.
Yes, I do talk to them as if they can talk back.
Cats in the Levine household receive lots of playtime and enrichment. Jason plays hide-and-seek with them and chase-the-laser. He bought a kid’s fishing pole with a toy mouse at the end, built a cat castle, and grows catnip for them. He’s also attached platforms to the wall for Zoe. Recently, the cats have been enjoying some supervised outside time too.
What does Jason like best about cats? Their independence! “Cats can take care of themselves; it’s nice that I don’t have to treat them as kids, unlike dogs who need someone to take care of them.”
Stuart Long has six cats. Ash and Toast are Lynx Point Siamese, ages six and four. Ash loves to cuddle with everyone. Toast is always waiting for someone to turn the faucet on for her because she doesn’t like to drink standing water. Then there’s Olive, a brown patch tabby that loves to jump on Stuart’s back when he gets home and flops in front of him when she wants him to pet her. She also enjoys roughhousing and getting pushed across the hardwood floors on her belly. Next up is Meatball, a tuxedo cat that Stuart describes as “the most loving cuddle kitty ever”. Meatball is quick to jump into bed when it’s time to sleep and makes himself comfortable wherever he fits in. Last are Bacardi and Saki, outdoor kittens that kept coming back whenever the Longs put out food on their porch for the neighborhood cats. When the two kittens warmed up to the Longs, the couple took them to a vet with the idea of getting them vaccinated and finding them a forever home. Along the way, the other cats took to the two kittens, and so the Longs decided “they wouldn’t have a better home than with us”.
The Longs look forward to spending time with their six cats at the end of their work days. Just like the cats in the previous stories, their cats are pampered. They’ve many toys to play with, two cat trees, and catnip—all in one room.
What does Stuart like best about cats? He didn’t used to be a cat person, but spending hours with the cats every day has changed his perception. Like the other male cat owners featured in this article, Stuart appreciates that cats are both independent and affectionate.
I can’t imagine life without them. They bring a lot of laughs and happiness even when they’re misbehaving. They’re like my children and best friends all in one!
Tom Heldreth and I first became acquainted through the Friends of Husker Cats Facebook page. Tom and I share a love for my home province of Newfoundland and for community cats. Tom experienced some major health problems in 2007 that necessitated a move from his house (with stairs) to a ground-floor apartment. One late evening while sitting outside, Tom noticed several stray cats scavenging for food. He bought some cat food and started to feed them. Eventually, he gained their trust and some even let him pet them. The cats gave Tom “something to look forward to, to live for”. He built them shelter for the winter months, and in severe weather he lets them into his apartment.
I am most proud of nursing several sick cats back to health (despite a limited vet budget). They fought back, and I helped as I was able. I love their purring and when they sleep on top of me.
Today Tom still cares for what he now considers his colony. Very few are feral anymore. Instead his cats follow him everywhere. He says they make him feel loved. Tom’s named each one. He revels in their antics. His favorite times are when the cats show up for meals. “They sing and are exuberant.” Tom finds that spending time with them after sunset calms him.
Why does Tom like best about cats? He considers them the best match for introverts. “Dogs tend to be better companions for active extroverts. Don’t get me wrong…. I love dogs, too, but I prefer cats. They’re so intelligent and can be cuddly too…on their own terms.
Writing this article, I realized that in my three years as a blogger for Lincoln Animal Ambassadors I haven’t made enough effort to include men. My thanks to the eleven men who shared their passion for cats with me–I wish I could have used more of their photos. I promise that this will be just the first article of several to recognize male pet owners.