Cats are the best, so great that TS Eliot wrote a whole poem about them. And then Andrew Lloyd Weber made a show about it that lasted forever. You will never be able to convince me that cats aren’t basically superior to humans. They’re cute, they’re entertaining, and they’re far more discriminating than the average person. Seriously, who’s more finicky than a cat? I can respect an animal who doesn’t like anything and everyone. And what’s better than a cat crashing a Zoom meeting, especially when they show you a butthole? The internet agrees with me, or at least Facebook does, which is why cat groups are the perfect thing for these pandemic times.
Full disclosure: I run a cat group, started last year when I realized that my cat didn’t really want me at home all of the time, and that she wasn’t shy about showing me her feelings. She didn’t poop in my shoes or anything, but she definitely gave me a hella Resting Bitch Face whenever I was doing anything other than feeding her. That’s when I realized that everyone else was working from home and trying to handle a spicy kitty, and that everyone needed to post pictures about it. That’s the thing about cat people: we take all the pictures. And pictures are the best things in the world for a Facebook group. So I started the group, and I adore it.
My Facebook group isn’t that popular, but there are groups with tens of thousands of members. I’m sure it’s the same 25,000 people joining all the groups, but there’s more than enough content to go around. All the content is entertaining, because cats are just weird. Plus they’re small and agile, so they can get into the craziest situations. Look at this sweet gremlin. No other pet could approach this devil may care position. This cat is also pregnant, more than you can see in the picture, so her arrangement on the sofa is even more impressive. I can look at this and laugh all day long.
If lewd cats are your thing, there’s a whole group for you, where you get to see male cats’ troublepuffs (balls, for the uninitiated) and plenty of felines posing like they want to be drawn like one of Leo DiCaprio’s French girls. It’s never not funny, and humor is the first reason cat groups are perfect for these times. We’ve had a crappy year, and we’re looking at uncertainty for the foreseeable future. Plus, we’ve been looking at the same people and the same four walls for 14 months. We need all the laughter we can get.
But cats don’t just give us a chuckle. They’re our role models. Cats are entitled AF and they do whatever they want. Any cat owner can tell you that their kitty is unbothered, all day, every day. All cats sit on your laptop when you’re working, and they don’t even care about you and what you’re doing. All cats walk all over you, actually over any part of your body. Face, leg, stomach…cats will walk over it, stand on it or sit on it. Then they get mad at you when you want to move them to a more convenient location like, say, the floor.
We tolerate all of this egregious behavior because we want to be cats. We want to do whatever we want instead of following the rules. We’d rather spend 16 hours asleep than be awakened by adult deadlines and responsibilities. Most importantly, we want not to care what other people think. All cat people understand this, which is why we like to congregate in Facebook groups to share stories of what our adorable pets have done lately. “He sat down in the middle of my kid’s birthday cake.” “My precious walked across my waxed floor. Her face says she’d do it again.” Sometimes we’re bragging, sometimes we’re complaining, but we’re always sharing what outrageous things our cats have done. And sharing makes everything better.
Laughs and commiseration are important, but the best things that cat groups offer is community. I will admit to joining cat groups before I know what they’re all about. I joined a black cat appreciation group called “This cat is Butler” sight unseen. It was cross-posted in another group I frequent, and I just assumed that I would like it. It turned out to be based on a private joke by some other Facebook group denizens about a case of mistaken cat identity. A cat pic was stolen and the thief posted the cat as their own, a cutie named Butler. The original poster, and owner, of the cat found out, and a group identifying all black cats as Butler became a thing. There’s also an offshoot group for tuxedo cats called “This Fancy Cat is Butler.” Yes, I’m in that one too, because I have a tuxedo cat. Now, I’m in on the joke with the rest of the people in the group, and we can bond over our shared love of black and white felines. In-groups — groups of people sharing a characteristic unlike other people — create a sense of belonging and camaraderie. In-groups about cats are more light-hearted than political, social or religious in-groups, and they give us a chance to find what we have in common in a low-stakes environment.
Community also forms in activist ways in Facebook cat groups. I, and several thousand other cat people, met a female kitty named Milkshake on a cat group last week. She was cranky because, in congruence with her appearance, she was very pregnant. Her foster mom got such a big response to Milkshake’s picture that she started a new group just for the cat’s new followers, and the group grew to several thousand within hours. We were all anxiously awaiting Milkshake’s beans (newborn kittens, naturally), until foster mom Danielle informed us that Milkshake wasn’t pregnant, but suffering from a rare uterine infection called pyometra. Milkshake had to be rushed into surgery to save her life, and to spay her.
While Milkshake was at the vet’s office, the members of her Facebook group raised over $3,000 to cover the costs of Milkshake’s medical care. There are also t-shirts to raise funds from the cat rescue that first had Milkshake. Strangers who didn’t know Danielle, or the cat, donated happily to take care of another living thing because they liked her pictures. Fortunately, Milkshake is recovering quickly, and Danielle has officially adopted her. Milkshake even has a suitor in one of Danielle’s other cats, so Milkshake’s fans are now awaiting pictures of her with her new boyfriend. We still joke about Milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard, per the Kelis song. And I’m buying a t-shirt for the possibility that I will run into someone else wearing one and have instant kinship with a stranger. Because cat people are just cool like that. And we’re always going to be somewhere in the virtual cat park, loving on someone else’s fur baby and feeling very at home.
And when we do all have to leave our entitled little house tigers home alone again, the world has provided content to keep them company so they don’t poop in our shoes. Because cat people know.
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Header photo courtesy of Malek Dridi on Unsplash