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According to popular culture being a cat lady is a bad thing. Cat ladies—who are just single older ladies with cats—often represent failure in the eyes of young women. "I'm gonna be a cat lady," wail single young women on their birthdays after too many proseccos. "I'll never find a boyfriend and I'll be a cat lady!"

But what is a cat lady, really? Because a cat lady is essentially just a lady who knows what they do and don't like. They don't need to put up with the needs and expectations of other humans. Instead they've embraced the company of someone fluffy, someone small, and someone who always listens. A little someone whose brain is simple but heart is pure. Someone with a gorgeous coat. Someone who is a cat.

In defence of cat ladies everywhere, we spoke to three cat ladies. We asked them why they'd chosen cats over men, and why cats are the superior beings.

Lisa, 45, Holistic Therapist

cat lady
Lisa with her cat

Vice: Hi Lisa, tell us, why do you prefer cats over men?
Lisa: They are easier for starters. Cats are just easy. You can have unconditional company without the headache and stress and the dramas. Men can be babies when they're sick. And if you want affection, you can have it there, and there’s no expectations of anything else. Quite like when you hit 45 you don’t want any dramas or stress. So, yeah cats are easier.

So, do you go out and date men?
I’ve hit a point in my life where I’m quite happy being single to be honest. I’ve got my little business that I work and that keeps me pretty busy. I also volunteer at Cat People of Melbourne as well, looking after little kittens. I just really don’t have the time for dating. I suppose it’s the energy that you put into another person. Like, it’s pretty full-on so I just find having a cat is less energy output, then restarting a whole relationship and trying the whole dating scene because dating nowadays is full-on. A lot of it is via social apps, and then you go and meet them and they look nothing like their photos. But whereas a cat, you always know what a cat looks like—they're always going to look the same.

What if you found a man that was a cat lover as well?
I actually wrote on a dating profile that I volunteer as a carer for kittens and if you're not a cat person it won't work out. I did try a couple of dates with someone, but they turned out to not like cats. Cats pick up on stuff, they are so intuitive so it was just going to be really uncomfortable. Like if someone comes into your life and they don’t like your pet that you love to pieces, it just wouldn't work. Animals pick up on vibes and you need to have someone in your life that will slide in easily and be okay with who you are.

When you found out the guy wasn’t a cat person, how did you break it off with him?
Well, he had other things that kind of annoyed me as well. I just said "look it’s just not going to work." Even to the point he said well “why can’t we just put the cat in another room?”. And I was like "no." That was like him saying "okay can we just chuck your child in the rubbish bin?" So, I just said "nah it’s not going to work."

Meg, 39, Carpenter

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Meg with her cat

Hey Meg, why are cats better than men?
I don’t think that they are better, just more available. I think for people who have cats, such as single women, it’s more about the fact that you are lonely. You can just go and adopt a cat then you have got a friend. You have got another heartbeat in the house, and you know you always have some company and someone to snuggle with. Someone who is happy to see you when you get home.

What pushed you to adopt your cat?
I actually just separated from my partner of five years, he had a cat. I had not lived with a cat for a long time and I was really in love with his cat. So, breaking up with him was hard, because it was sort of like breaking up with the two of them. One time my son was away at his dad’s place, so I was really lonely and adopted this little guy.

Does the cat satisfy you enough?
Yeah it's fine just having his company. But I’m not sure if even without the cat that I would be going out and looking for a man at the moment. I’ve just come out of a relationship so going back into another one isn’t what I want right now.

How does the cat help you in everyday life, now that you're newly single?
Just knowing that there is someone to come home to. So, when I come home he is just really happy to see me, he gives me smooches, jumps up, you know he is just so happy to see me. Just knowing that there is that to come home to rather than just an empty house is nice.

Rosy, 64, Kindergarten teacher

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Rosy with her cat

Hey Rosy why are cats better than men?
Well I don’t hate men or anything like that. But cats don’t answer back or argue with you. They don’t go down to the pub with their mates and get drunk, and they are easier to look after. They are there to get you through the good times and the bad times and they are devoted to you. They eat less food, and they're cleaner.

Would you say you're more drawn to animals than humans in general?
Well cats are more devoted than some people are. People can be just very nasty and mean, you know—manipulators and all that. Animals, you just give them food and love and they're totally devoted to you.

How did your love for cats begin?
I grew up in a family and we had cats from a young age. My parents liked cats a lot, so we had them around constantly while I was growing up.

How long have you been single for?
I never got married, I never met the right person so it never happened.

If you found someone now and they didn’t like cats, would it be a deal breaker?
Yes definitely. You know my pets are my family. To me, that would be like giving up a child, and some people actually do this. You hear on Facebook of stories of “my partner doesn’t like cats or dogs so I am trying to re-home my pet”. This really infuriates me, and often people start saying things like “you need to get rid of your partner.” I agree with that totally.

Interview and photos by Mirjana Milovanovic. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter