by Kim Boatman
It's not uncommon these days to meet a significant other online. A 2010 survey conducted by online dating company Match.com found that 1 in 6 marriages is now between people who met via online dating. Increasingly, our pets play significant roles in choosing potential dates or mates. When you're looking for love, it's important that your loved ones at the very least get along with your new boyfriend or girlfriend. For many of us, that means potential boyfriends or girlfriends must pass the "cat test."
"When I was single, I always let my cat choose my mates," says Layla Morgan Wilde, who met her husband online 10 years ago. "If my cat, Merlin, didn't like a date, he'd pace back and forth in front of the person, giving me the hairy eyeball. He was like a magic date-o-meter. If he did that, there was never a second date."
The Cat Lover's Profile
When it comes to dating online, cat owners frequently mention their cats, include cats in profile photos or require that potential dates love cats too. "Anecdotally, I've seen a lot of JDate profiles that mention pets being important parts of people's lives," says Arielle Schechtman, a spokeswoman for JDate.com, an online dating community for Jewish singles. "It's definitely a common interest and love that people share."
Pet ownership isn't factored in to online dating site eHarmony's compatibility system, but users are able to select up to five pets they have or like in a section called "Something to Talk About." Forty-five percent of eHarmony users select dogs and cats, says spokeswoman Whitney Standring-Trueblood.
A mutual affection for cats plays such an important role for many singles that a number of online dating communities now target cat-lovers or pet owners. Sites such as DateMyPet.com focus on the connections owners have with their animals and help them try to find similar dates or mates.
Why Your Cat Matters in Relationships
Wilde first noticed cat/dating issues when she fielded rescue calls for a cat rescue organization she founded in the late 1990s. "The saddest cases were women who wanted to get rid of their cat because of a boyfriend or a fiance," says Wilde, who works as a life coach and cat behaviorist. "A relationship between a cat-lover and non-cat-lover has the odds stacked against it. Occasionally, it's possible to turn someone who doesn't like cats into a cat person. It depends on the person's past experience with cats, their cultural background, any negative association or whether they are allergic to cats."
For cat owners, it is indeed best to know upfront where a potential spouse stands on a beloved pet. Advises Wilde: "Don't wait until you're ready to walk down the aisle before asking, ‘Do you like cats?'"
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