I don't hate cats. I just want to put that out there before the hate-mail comes flooding in. Myself, I love cats. Cats are just swell. Yes sir. But not everybody loves cats. Some people feel like they were born disliking cats. Others started to realise in early puberty that they didn't feel comfortable as cat-lovers. That they identified as dog people, or were just not that fussed with the feline.
I know many of us find that hard to understand. A lot of us may not agree with it. And sure, none of us wants to be forced to perform a cat-free wedding. But surely, out of Christian grace if nothing else, we can agree that it's time to think about trying to love the people who don't love cats.
I thought the internet would be the perfect place to address this.
So here goes. We can go back to discussing safe, un-emotive subjects like homosexuality, feminism and Islam soon, but first: can we all just be brave, take a deep breath and examine the question every Christian needs to face up to, pray about and work out for themselves... Is it okay to hate cats? (Asking for a friend.)
1. There are no cats in the Bible
All I'm saying is that there are not. I'm a Baptist, so far be it from me to force my theology on anyone, but I'm pretty sure that this is irrefutable proof that cats are of the devil. Yes, I know, they're in the Apocrypha. And the Quran. But they were also worshipped as gods in ancient Egypt. So, really, having one in your house is sort of idolatry.
2. Cats are politically unsound
Two words for you: Chairman Miaow. One other word: Commewnism. You see where I'm going with this.
3. They actually, seriously, drive you insane
And not in a cute 'oh, kitty, you're so naughty, you've left another badger carcass in my slipper' kind of way. Like, actually. Like, science and stuff. Cats carry a parasite in their poo that can drive you insane. It's a real thing, called toxoplasma gondii and it may just be engaging in quiet mind control that causes people to walk into traffic and no, I'm not kidding. Rats infected with it stop being scared of cats. At least one scientist says it's responsible for more deaths than Malaria.
So, no, actually, I'm not alright with Tiddles hopping up on my lap.
Everywhere. Walk into the house of a cat owner and approximately seven seconds later you are covered in enough cat hair to knit your very own cat. Cat hair is like glitter. It covers everything, gets everywhere and it NEVER GOES AWAY. Sit on a sofa where a cat has lain and you might as well get down on all fours, climb up on a stranger's lap and put your bum in their face, because you are basically 80 per cent cat in total weight and DNA terms.
5. They are much, much less lovable than dogs
I know what you're going to say. Dogs get short shrift in the Bible. They're pretty much ancient Greek/Aramaic/Hebrew for 'scumbags'. But you know what dogs are? Loyal. Loving. Stupid. Why would you want the opposite of that in a pet? Why would you applaud in an animal what you would never allow in a robot butler?
Cat owners often talk about cats' disdain for their owners as if it's a good thing.
"Tiddles makes it very clear he doesn't need me at all."
"Mittens doesn't have an owner, he has staff."
"Mr Snufflepockets tried to kill me in my sleep."
You realise that if you were talking about a human like that, your friends would be staging an intervention for you and preparing to change your locks, right? Animals may or may not have souls, but cats definitely have original sin.
6. Cats deliberately target people that don't like them
Don't want a cat on your lap? Here: have two. Wearing a nice new suit and don't want to have to dry-clean or burn it? How about a little bit of this rubbing up against your trouser leg, as if it's unintentional, so that if you complain to the owner it looks like you're unreasonable? Don't even want to touch a cat? CAT TSUNAMI.
Cats are basically those embarrassing street-preachers with megaphones. Or creepy guys in bars who don't care if you're interested or not.
7. WAY too many people like cats
Sure, popularity doesn't always equal appallingness – though Ed Sheeran makes a powerful case. But the monolithic, cult-like love of cats that dominates western culture means that even voicing a slight aversion to the narcoleptic bird-botherers can land you in deep social water.
Pick a group of people with open minds and tolerant natures. People who are open to your love of the accordion. Folks who love John Piper but think your reading Rob Bell is just fine. Pretty much any group of liberal-minded, sweet natured people. Tell them you don't like cats, and they will shun you like you just expressed a grudging admiration for Fred and Rose West. Express a stronger dislike for their furry friends and they will actually attack you with scratching posts.
8. They poo in boxes. In the living room. In front of people.
Are we allowed to do that? No.
Am I allowed to lick my own skin and hair instead of washing? Also no.
It's double-standards and I'm not having it.
9. I'm allergic
This is a lie. Well, it's not. It's just not that important. I can get over my allergies. I can take an anti-histamine. But it gets cat fanatics to leave you alone. "Oh, you're allergic? Well, that explains it." No it doesn't! Don't you trivialise my rational dislike for genuinely annoying creatures by pathologising it. I'm not a naughty child on Ritalin.
That said, the allergy thing is useful. Even if I wasn't allergic, I'd say I was allergic. In fact, I might not actually be allergic. YOU'LL NEVER KNOW.
10. They're not kittens
Kittens, I think we'll all agree, are amazing. Cuteness rivalling baby sloths and lemurs (and vastly outstripping that of baby humans), without most of the horrors of cat-dom. They are fun, sweet, beautiful, warm and, as has been astutely observed by many before me, SO FLUFFY.
What kind of monster doesn't love kittens?
Jonathan Langley is a freelance writer and works for a Christian mission and development agency.