10 ways in which fictional romantic heroes are like my cats

#1 They both sometimes have other priorities. Romantic heroes tend to prioritize important things that really need doing, like saving the ranch, putting out that fire, saving the galaxy, or finding the murderer before he kills again. Cats prioritize themselves. (Cat people can cope with that. The rest of the world prefers dogs.)

#2 They both love the chase. Romantic heroes happily chase the heroine, often exhibiting super-human persistence in the face of discouragement, competition, and other plot complications. Kitties will chase anything that moves, dangles, rolls, or looks like it wouldn’t ever think of turning around and eating a cat.

#3. They both practice good hygiene. Yes, there are women who enjoy a sweaty man reeking of testosterone. I think these women mostly exist in books and fantasies. In real life, most of us appreciate a man who bathes regularly. And nobody wants a smelly cat.

#4. They both appreciate your cooking. It’s sexy if the romantic hero helps himself to something while a woman is cooking. (It’s even sexier if he’s the one cooking.) It’s not sexy at all when your cat helps himself. At least, not to me. (Fancy Feast commercials suggest that there is a subset of women out there who might disagree.)

#5. They both like to share a glass with you now and then. This is why I can never drink a glass of water I’ve left unsupervised in my house.


#6. Neither will stay where you put them. Where’s the suspense in that? Your typical romantic hero won’t be contained. (Romantic heroines aren’t big on it, either.) Your typical cat usually doesn’t want to stay where you put him, either, unless it’s in a new box. A new box is to cats as the heroine’s ultimate warm embrace is to the romantic hero.

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#7. Both will fight for the right to get close to you. Your basic romantic plot requires a bit of competition or conflict between suitors, or perhaps between hero and heroine, slowly and reluctantly realizing It. Was. Meant. To. Be. Cats are also willing to fight each other for your favor. At least mine do. Who will get to sit on my lap? The answer is how I know which cat is currently winning the ongoing struggle for dominance in my house.

Bo was the winner that day.

Bo was the winner that day.

#8 They have ways of letting you know when they need a little attention. Gilbert Blythe pulled Anne of Green Gable’s pigtail. Older romantic heroes give their love objects a smoldering glance, a warm touch, a good laugh, the odd rescue from certain death. My cats jump on my lap, walk across my the keyboard, jump on the dinner table, and stick their butts in my face. When things really get bad, they vomit. I’m going to give men points for more subtlety on this one.

Bo 003

#9. They want in on some of your most intimate moments.  Though if there’s no sex involved, I’d say the cats are often way more interested than the men. How many men secretly wish they could go back to the good old days of waiting in another room for the baby to be born? How many would just as soon never see a single box of tampons in their entire life? You don’t have a lot of romantic heroes coping with a woman’s pooping or cramps. (No doubt women who read romantic fiction would just as soon forget about those things, too.) But cats, like children, just love catching you in the bathroom.

002#10. They really want to share your bed. Yes, they’re waiting and hoping. I often let Penny stay because she’ll sleep through the night, curled up next to me. Bo, however, snores, licks himself loudly, and pounces on my feet under the sheets, so he’s usually shoved outside my door for the night. In real life, quite a few men and women are turning to the good sleep that comes with separate bedrooms. In romantic fiction, however, heroes and heroines spoon soundly through the night and wake up refreshed and free of resentment. That’s why my favorite scene in Train Wreck has Amy Schumer laying waste to that particular cliché. Judging from this tweet and the reaction to it, I’m not the only one who enjoyed watching that.

Ah, romance. Ah, kitties. I love them both, even if I’d just as soon that litter box in the corner could find a way to take care of itself. As for guys? Thank goodness for indoor plumbing. I just wish all men had perfect aim. Because when romantic heroes have to pee — which they almost never do — they never, ever miss the toilet.