White cat laying on the ground with its hand over its mouth.

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Why everyone’s talking about ‘Cat Person,’ the most relatable short story of 2017

The fictional short story was relatable to many women.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Dec 11, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 8:24 am CDT

Cat Person, a short story by Kristen Roupenian that appears in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, exploded on the internet over the weekend. People linked to it with a fervor rarely expressed when discussing new fictional stories.

Many tweets mentioned the words “cat person” without additional context, and the reference was obvious to all who had read the story. So why was it so popular? Cat Person is an instantly relatable story about dating and building up a fantasy of a person you don’t really know yet. We see everything unfold through the perspective of the main character, a 20-year-old woman named Margot. Her experience dating a 34-year-old man named Robert is cringe-worthy—especially the moments that describe how she consciously works around his insecurities.

Short stories in the New Yorker are usually not this popular and are rarely discussed in-depth on Twitter. But Cat Person arrived at the right time. It was published after weeks of stories in the news that detailed accounts of sexual harassment, assault, and rape, and the ‘Me Too’ movement that followed. The story served as a commentary about women’s interactions with men who find them attractive. Also, it was simply a well-written short story.

People (mostly women) talked about how relatable the story was on Twitter.






Some men supported the story.


Once Cat Person hit peak popularity, it turned into an internet joke.

As with anything that becomes popular on the internet, there’s already a backlash against Cat Person. On Twitter, some people criticized the short story for mentioning Robert’s size several times.




There are also men who just don’t understand why the story became so popular, and their responses are being collected in a new account called Men React To Cat Person.


Yep, some people thought that Robert, who (SPOILER) calls Margot a “whore” for not responding to text messages, was the victim in Cat Person. The author said in an interview that she hopes that “most people lose sympathy” for Robert after that text.

But all of the reactions to the story, both positive and negative, show that we’re possibly heading to a new way of reading and sharing fiction on the internet. We’ve already seen the rise of the Instagram poet. Maybe Cat Person will herald in a wave of people writing and sharing short stories specifically for an online audience. Even if that doesn’t happen right away, it was amazing to see a short story trending on Twitter for an entire weekend.

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*First Published: Dec 11, 2017, 12:15 pm CST