(Lurker, first post, throwaway, etc etc)
Back when I was a lot more accommodating, I found myself dating – or just socially having to be in the gross houses of – men who owned cats. Yeah the internet is for cat memes, lots of people own cats, lots of people love cats, but I've found that there's a particular subset of "nerdy/geeky" grown men who LoOoOoOvE the idea of cats. It took me a few years, but FDSers, let me tell you about how a man's cat(s) can be great for vetting.
Vetting the man, I mean, cuz the problem is the cats are almost always not getting taken to any kind of vet. We hear all this nonsense about “crazy cat ladies” but at least cat ladies know how to take care of their damn animals. Let me introduce you to the Mediocre Cat Guy.
Look y'all, LVM Cat Guys are the direct reason I am no longer a 'cat person". Keep in mind, I ain't a cat expert and I'm really happy for HV folks who love their feline friends. I'm going to skip the horror show stories but here's a field guide for the cat-lovers and the cat-curious who might miss some hidden red flags.
Cat food: What's that cat eating/drinking and on what kind of schedule? Obviously not everyone can afford premium fancy stuff, but if your man has a pet that he lOvEs, he should have put some thought into its nutritional needs and routine feeding. PS – a lot of cats struggle with drinking still water so it's the dude's job to have already been thinking about and noticing whether or not his cat is actually staying hydrated. Letting his cat become a giant amorphous blob isn't love, that's laziness and it is hurting the animal through overfeeding and understimulation. LVM will get like, weirdly offended if you call them out on this directly. If you try to talk about it indirectly, they'll dismiss it and make jokes.
Cat socialization and playtime: Cats aren't dogs, but they still need stimulation and enrichment like lions or tigers in the zoo. Does this dude have cat toys? Places for the cat to hide/nap/climb/scratch? Does his cat enjoy those toys? Do they play together? Or is this cat left alone 24/7 to be bored? Note: If your man thinks it's okay for him to use his own hands and feet as “toys”, where the cat attacks his bare flesh, he has taught the cat that it's okay to use teeth and claws on anyone else's body too. Nah. Cat mouths and cat claws are full of germs that are legitimately dangerous to humans.
Training and manners: Again, cats aren't dogs, but they can still develop really bad unnecessary habits and separation anxiety. Cats be trained on how to be good in the house. Does this cat, every single time, use the litter box for pee and poop or is this man okay with finding shit and piss on laundry or on the floor? Do his cats get up on the table and try to eat your human food? Is this man alone for so long so often that his cat is possessive of him or aggressive toward strangers (like you)? What happens if you tell this man that you want to close the cat out of the bedroom to have sex or even just for some sleep? If he refuses or makes excuses, or he lets the cat scream and scratch and shake the door, he's showing you that he's both okay with making you uncomfortable and letting his cat be uncomfortable with its life full of separation anxiety.
Cleaning and smell: LVM apartments always low-key smell like damp litter or straight-up cat piss. If he "can't smell it", he's going to expect you to be okay with living with that smell at all times. How often does he clean the litter box? Does he scoop it out as soon as he knows the cat's used it or does he let the smell build up? How often has he forgotten to buy a new bag of litter? Just like with the food, is he using litter and a litterbox that's appropriate for his cat – or the appropriate number of boxes for the number of cats he owns?
Ownership and care: People like to joke about how children want a pet and swear to take care of it, but the mother ends up being the on with all the responsibility and with LVM who have cats, this isn't a joke. If you get involved with them – even if you like their cat – make it clear you will not be “helping” at any time. LVM will start sneaking it in by asking you to refill the dry food or get out of bed to shoo the stupid thing away from trying to lick plastic or whatever and it's not even your animal or your house. Especially if they already never take their animal to get shots or checkups at the vet.
LVM who behave like this and say cats are “low maintenance” don't want a pet, they want an entertainment object they can pick up and put down when they want that loves them unconditionally. If they're willing to underperform this bad they take care of a dependent furry creature, imagine how they plan on treating you.