One persistent cliché in television shows and films is that the possession of pets – particularly cats – is indicative of loneliness and eccentricity. Yet there is no evidence to sustain the stereotype that somebody with a preference for cats is a sad loner.
In fact, research in Australia shows that "cat men" – those who own cats but not dogs – earn more than average and are more likely than other men to read books. And almost 70 per cent of them are married or in a permanent relationship. On the internet, where images of cats and kittens have long been popular, there has been a big increase in the number of cat men who are keen to demonstrate their manliness. According to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation report, being seen with a cat is an antidote to the kind of "toxic masculinity" that can lead to violence.
It seems that the James Bond films, where supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld would inevitably stroke the white cat on his lap before ordering a murder, got it very wrong.