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The virtues and stigmas associated with cat ownership have polarized America for years. Here are two shining examples representing the divide.

Today in the New York Times, there is a Styles piece about the nascent glamor of cat ownership, especially among women. Cat chic has firmly entered the mainstream thanks to the likes of Taylor Swift, Girls character Marnie Michaels, and a slew of the internet's who's who. In other words, the Cat Lady has been rebranded:

The cat ladies of yore may have been sad sacks (think of the infamous scenes in “Grey Gardens”), but this new breed is young, sociable and ambitious. And cats for them (us) are not signs of spinsterhood, but of independence. Dogs need walks and near-constant attention, but cats need hardly anything at all. They sleep while you’re at work, eat food out of a can and jump on your lap while you watch Netflix: the perfect pet for the so-called millennial.

But for the old guard, skepticism still carries the day. For every thousand tales, tails, tweets, or Instagrams of an adorable kitten in a household full of love, there is at least one story of the total and complete opposite. Like this dispatch from Texas, where authorities raided a house belonging to two 60-year-old twin sisters, which had as many as 100 cats living on the premises.

Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen said cat feces in the garage of the house was piled 4 feet high and some of the cats had burrowed into the feces. It took investigators five hours to rescue all the cats."

So long as there are two very specific classifications of cat ownership—the healthy and the unhealthy—a national consensus on cats (like the one afforded to dogs) seems elusive. In the meantime, to help the discourse along, perhaps someone should open a mewseum. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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