We’ve all been there. You bring out your little kitty to meet party guests, only to have some fat, hairy, obnoxious frat-person who’s gender you’re not sure of refer to your precious cat as “she” and “her” without even asking first. In that moment, the look of horror on your cat’s face says it all.
The fact is, most people have horrible etiquette when it comes to assuming the gender of new cats they meet. Stereotypes of cats being prissy and girlish are making life more difficult for these non-gender conforming creatures. So the next time you see someone at a party just ASSUMING a cat’s gender without asking it first, here is a quick guide to educating that person about their blind, harmful, patriarchal-reinforcing words.
The first major misstep most people make is to assume that human gender expression must be a giveaway for a cat’s gender. Wrong! Yes, my white fluffy cat, Pat, may seem delicate and dainty like a female, but to just outright assume that all cats are girls (just like assuming all dogs are boys) is ignorant, rude and an insult to female kitties that routinely lick their own butthole everyday day. Be sure to remind that person of all the gross, “man-like” indignities shared by ALL cats, not sure the males.
What about when folks ask about your cat’s genitalia? That’s none of their business! Whether my proud little Pat has been spayed, neutered, or received a feline sex change operation is the concern of Pat, and Pat alone. I personally let my cat make its own decisions whether to have balls, ovaries, both, or neither, and I’m not so impolite to ask what it decided! Be sure to shut down that line of questioning pronto.
What else can we do to correct this appalling behavior and stand in solidarity with our feline brethren or sistren? Only use gendered pronouns to refer to your cat if and when you know what words the cat him or herself uses. Buy your kitty only gender-neutral yarn colors (no pinks or blues!) so as to not reinforce stereotypes. And be sure to mark your litter boxes as “Gender Neutral” so guests will know that you don’t discriminate against cats going pee-pee in your household.
Finally, be sure to give any privileged asshole who makes an egregious assumption about your cat’s gender an earful, preferably in social settings so others will know you and your cat won’t tolerate offensive behavior. You may lose party guests who call you self-righteous, but your kitty will love you even more for protecting it against harmful gender stereotypes.