Though keeping cats as pets began in the earliest of times, it became increasingly popular in the 19th century. Animals in general became status symbols and symbols of the ability to control the uncontrollable.
In particular, cats and women became closely related. No matter what the sex, cats and women were compared because of the understanding that both were domestic and indoor creatures. In general, men compared women to cats in a largely negative manner: “An animal so keen on maintaining her appearance, so silky, so tiny, so eager for caresses, so ardent and responsive, so graceful and supple….; an animal that makes the night her day, and who shocks decent people with the noise of her orgies, can have only one single analogy in this world, and that analogy is of the feminine kind” (Toussenel, Zoologies Passionelle). The two were often thought to have dispositions of prostitutes, signaling a hard and fast belief that women were either chaste or promiscuous, domesticated or wild.
Because of their perceived devious femininity and sexuality, women were often compared to cats and vice versa. Both were said to be eager to escape domesticity and likely to be seduced by immoral nature.
Like Victorian women, cats were described to be “the embodiment of elegance, grace and agility… Very little, in fact, is needed to make the Cat stray from the paths of domesticity and return again to the happier hunting-grounds of its remote ancestors.”
Besides stereotyping women, cats became a new mascot of advertising. Most fittingly cats were seen in a large amount of soap advertisements and became synonymous with cleanliness.