1. First of all, define "cat lady."
Does one cat = cat lady? Two cats = cat lady? Does joking about being a cat lady à la sparkling, outgoing multimillionaire Taylor Swift automatically make one a cat lady? It is my personal belief that most female cat owners below the age of 40 fall into the "not a cat girl, not yet a cat lady" category.
2. Cat ladies mostly look like...normal ladies.
You know. Like regular women.
3. If you liked her before you knew she had a cat, there's no reason to assume anything about her once you've learned she has one.
On the bright side, if you do, she will learn early that you are a regulation schmuck and won't want you around her cat.
4. She takes pride in being called a cat lady.
The relationship between a girl and her cat is like the one between a man and his dog in a Jack London story. Only instead of leaning on each other to survive the vast Alaskan wilderness, they're sitting on the couch together on Saturday night watching Law & Order: SVU.
5. Just remember that the bond between a girl and her cat is a special and unique bond.
An "I got home and told my cat about my day" bond.
6. Because, let's face it, cats are often more emotionally intelligent than men.
They also don't send idiotic text messages.
7. And they have personalities like any other smart animal does.
So don't act like her cat is just some lump of fur that lies on the futon all day.
8. Never, ever comment on how she spends too much money on the "fancy" cat food.
Um, how come nobody rips on dog lovers for buying the fancy stuff? I sense a bias here.
9. And don't ever try to minimize a medical problem that her cat is having.
Even if the cat is wearing a doofy cone. A good rule of thumb is usually: If she laughs, you can laugh. (The girl, I mean. Not the cat.)
10. There's a pretty good chance she comes from a family of cat people.
Or at least cat ladies who didn't allow the men to have an opinion, which is really the best kind of cat lady.
11. So if you have a dog, well...it might be a little much for her.
I flinch whenever a dog runs at me or jumps on me. It's kind of overwhelming!
12. She may be a little more antisocial than other women you've dated.
It's a stereotype, but definitely true for some women! For instance, me.
13. She knows there are guys who are allergic to cats and other guys who are "allergic to cats," so if you're just "allergic to cats," she's onto you.
In other words, don't pretend you're allergic if you just don't like when the girl you're dating has a cat.
14. She's not afraid to call you out on it.
THEN WHY AREN'T YOU SNEEZING? SHOW ME YOUR HIVES, BEN. SHOW THEM TO ME.
15. Cats aren't "ungrateful" or "mean" just because they don't bolt up to you when you walk in the door and act all needy.
Cats just prize sleeping over most other activities, which is perfectly respectable.
16. If you like her cat, it's an instant gateway to her heart/soul/vagina.
Seeing the guy you're dating pick up and cuddle your cat gives you the same (or more intense) feeling as when you see him hold a baby.
17. The cat is permanent; you're replaceable.
Sorry, that's just the way it is.
18. All that said: She might be a witch.
Her cat might be a witch too. But I can't tell you because we cat ladies all sign a nondisclosure agreement.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.