Cat Person

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Cat Person” (2017) by Kristen Roupenian. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Kristen Roupenian is an American writer. She is best known for the short story “Cat Person”, which was published in 2017 on the website of The New Yorker. “Cat Person” became one of the most read short stories published in The New Yorker and was widely shared online as readers believed it presented a very realistic portrayal of millennial dating culture. 

Extract

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Social setting

The story’s social setting looks at gender roles in the 21st century, especially at how young women define themselves. In his relationship with Margot, Robert comes across as mature, superior, and protective. He calls Margot “sweetheart” and “honey”, and she feels excited to be seen as “something precious”. 

Margot does not really like Robert but feels the need to be considered a polite, nice girl. She constantly tries to make Robert feel good about himself, and she tries her best not to offend him: “she felt as if she were petting a large, skittish animal, like a horse or a bear, skillfully coaxing it to eat from her hand”. Moreover, her behavior reminds readers of the culture that encourages women to put men’s needs above their own.

The social setting also looks at dating in the 21st century. Most of Robert and Margot’s relationship develops over text messages instead of face-to-face interaction, which makes it harder for both of them to get to know each other on a deep, personal level. While texting, Margot and Robert are comfortable with each other. In person, however, they are awkward, tense, and seem to misinterpret each other’s signals.

The last part of the story looks at the issue of consent and makes the readers question whether Margot was fully able to consent or not when she had sex with Robert. Margot is the one to initiate sex, but it only happens after she drinks three beers: “By her third beer, she was thinking about what it would be like to have sex with Robert”. Robert is aware that she is drunk, yet he does not take her to the dorms but to his house. 

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Cat Person

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