Sometimes a cynical woman who has been unlucky in love will remark, “Forget men! Get a cat!” In her poem “Advice to Women,” Eunice de Souza also suggests that women have cats, but her reasoning is bit different. Cats, she explains, will teach women how “to cope with / the otherness of lovers” (lines 2–3). Cats are certainly independent sorts who prefer to do their own thing, which is usually the exact opposite of what anyone wants them to do.
Yet, the poet continues, cats do not always neglect a person. Instead, they “return to their litter trays / when they need to.” In other words, the poet claims that cats come around when they need something. Lovers, she implies, do the same, and the result is not always pleasant.
There is simply no help for it, the poet indicates. There is no need to be upset. One must simply accept the fact that cats will always look with surprise, perhaps having forgotten that a person is even present and perhaps wondering why they should care. Lovers, apparently, do the same, leaving one alone until the end.
In terms of form and style, the poem is in free verse with no regular rhyme or meter. It is basically prose sculpted into poetic lines. The lines are highly enjambed, meaning that sentences flow through from one line to the next. The entire poem, of course, is one metaphor comparing cats and lovers, but otherwise there is little in the way of enhanced poetic diction. However, the images of the “stare of perpetual surprise” and “great green eyes” are appealing and vivid.