Citing a report in The Seattle Times that shows the City of Roses a mere .6 percent ahead of Seattle in the number of "single women who live alone with one cat," Burbank launched a campaign of fear against her city's "northern rival," calling the prospect of losing this PNW feline battle "terrifying."
Burbank's article gave me paws. Portland's in the lead, cat-lady-wise—so why this call to action? And why ply scare tactics in aid of the cause? Purrhaps it's because Burbank knows the numbers can't be right.
Before I get going here, I have to say that I don't get the connection between a woman's marital status and her relationship with cats. To define one's relationship with cats against one's relationship with a romantic partner seems like some kind of perpetuation of the patriarchy.
There's much hemming and hawing about why roughly 1 in 10 women in Seattle live alone with a cat. I assume women like cats because cats are fascinating. The animal understands and rightly resents the weird master/slave dynamic of pethood. They administer affection on their own terms. You can stare at them for half an hour and nothing of consequence is likely to occur.
Moreover, cats are the most popular thing on the internet. More popular even than dogs. Why? Because. You can project any emotion onto a cat. A dog knows only elation or shame. Cats project the complete range of human emotions: disdain, feeling too full, and ironic detachment.
But, alas, the cliche of the cat lady exists, and so it has become an idenity. Though I am curious—which came first, the cat lady or the cat lady meme?
Anyway, as I was saying, the numbers. They seem off. The Times reports that Nielsen Scarborough surveyed 4,582 households in King and Snohomish counties to come to their conclusion, but there are over 800,000 households in King County alone. So they're working with a sample size of .6 percent, which is just as small as Portland's "cat lady" lead over us. Coincidence? Yes. But it sounds fishy.
There's just no way Portland has a higher percentage of women who share their home with a cat than Seattle. Over the years we have created a culture of cats. Does the city hall in Portland become Kitty Hall, as it does every summer here? And does Portland have a Seattle Meowtropolitan on the way, a cafe for cats? And is every used bookstore in Portland littered with kitties? The answer to all of those questions is purrobably not. (Editor's note: Actually, Portland beat us on the cat cafe, Rich. Do your homework!)
And let's not furget that the city of Seattle is a major urban environment, not a sprawling suburb like Portland. This means we're more likely to live in dense apartment complexes run by landlords who impose astronomical pet fees on tenants. I must confess that this charge is the reason why I, a lover of cats, do not have a cat. Another reason for my catlessness is that I'm a walking misery incapable of true love and affection, even for an animate pillow that, as Hemingway said, will purr with two broken legs. In any case, many women may have responded in the negative to the survey, fearing that it may have been part of a landlord's sting operation designed to discover secret cats on their property.
The point is: No matter how much I love cats, I am not a woman and so cannot meaningfully contribute to the Neilson numbers. Given this reality, I humbly bow before you, single women of Seattle, and encourage you to consider adopting a feline friend from one of the many fine and reputable agencies around town.
If you've been on the fence for the last few days, now's the time to hop on over to the cat side of life, especially now that the monocloud has completely capped our skies.