Don’t Call Me a Crazy Cat Lady

crazy cat lady

I really dislike the term “crazy cat lady.”  It diminishes those of us who love cats for the unique and wonderful creatures that they are by assigning a label that usually has a somewhat derogatory connotation, even if it’s used with humorous self-deprecation. I don’t really care for the term “cat guy,” either, which has recently become popular. But notice how there’s never a “crazy” put in front of “cat guy?”

According to Wikipedia, a cat lady is defined as “a single woman who dotes upon her cat, or multiple cats. The term is considered pejorative.” Wikipedia adds “In the West, single women who own cats have long been associated with the concept of  spinsterhood. In more recent decades, the concept of a cat lady has been associated with “romance-challenged (often career-oriented) women who can’t find a man.” Is there anything in this definition that is not insulting to women? So why do we keep using this term, even in jest?

It’s a stereotype. Stereotypes are oversimplified definitions, and they’re based on assumptions, not facts. They’re rarely accurate. I know a lot of “cat ladies,” and none of them are crazy. They just simply love cats as much, and sometimes maybe even more, than I do.

Yes, I love cats. Allegra and Ruby are my family. I put their needs ahead of just about everything else in my life. Let me rephrase that: their needs come first. I don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

My house is decorated with lots of cat things. I have a gorgeous original cat painting in my living room. I have an equally beautiful limited edition cat print in my bedroom. I have photos of my cats in just about every room of my house. I derive constant pleasure from looking at cats, whether it’s cat art, cat figurines, cat photos, or the real thing. I don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

I delight in looking at cat themed merchandise in stores and online. Well, at most of it, anyway –  let’s face it, some cat-related merchandise is awful. I buy my fair share of cat themed products. I don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

I write about cats. I’m passionate about educating others about cat health, cat nutrition, and everything else cat. I really don’t think that makes me a crazy cat lady.

I’d like to see the term “crazy cat lady” disappear from being used altogether. It doesn’t tell us anything about the woman it’s being applied to. The next time you’re getting ready to call someone a crazy cat lady, or us the term, even jokingly, to describe yourself, I’d encourage you to think twice.

I would especially like to encourage cat writers and cat bloggers to think twice before using the term. I think we have an opportunity, and maybe even an obligation, to stop perpetuating the stereotype by ceasing to use this disparaging term altogether.

So don’t call me a crazy cat lady. And don’t call anyone else a crazy cat lady, either. Let’s just all be who we really are: people who love cats.

39 Comments on Don’t Call Me a Crazy Cat Lady

  1. Jennifer
    June 8, 2019 at 3:14 am (1 month ago)

    Really agree with what you have said. My family always had cats. But haven’t had one for many years now. Just have a little dog.
    Someone I know…..ex friend now…..would always bang on about us being crazy old cats ladies. I found it very offensive but never said anything. I found it very passive aggressive. Which is why she is an ex friend. If I had a problem of any tintype eg someone bothering me, council problems etc she would say, oh just be a crazy old cat lady! A few time I did ask her what the hell did she think would be accomplished by being in that way. Besides how do these mythical crazy old cat ladies act?
    Anyway I still love cats and they are the most loving little fur babies.
    Thanks for the post

    Reply
  2. Maria
    February 5, 2018 at 9:37 am (1 year ago)

    I love everything cat. If some people consider me crazy, it’s definitely not for that reason!

    Reply
  3. Katherine
    April 12, 2016 at 10:52 pm (3 years ago)

    As the proud caretaker of 15 precious felines I enjoyed your blog post.

    Reply
  4. ann ledesma
    October 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm (4 years ago)

    Hello Ingrid – I love this blog and agree with everything you said, also with Catherine that it is really more about spinsterhood and a preferred childfree existence. I have had cats for many years and can tell you that I have never known such pure love as the love they give. It seems so often that human love is always corrupted by selfishness or conditionalism, cats just give. Their purr is the sweetest sound I can imagine. As to other language equivalents of Cat Lady, Polish has a word for a real cat lover but it is not necessarily pejorative: Kociarz (for a man) and Lociarka (for a gal.

    Reply
    • ann ledesma
      October 12, 2015 at 5:56 pm (4 years ago)

      OOPS – i should have edited my post. The female Polish equivalent of cat lover is Kociarka, and not Lociarka as I goofed with. thanks!

      Reply
      • Lisa
        June 8, 2019 at 3:09 pm (1 month ago)

        Thank mew! I have and love them all…all of my life and certain I always will…i can not for the life of me understand anyone whose heart wouldn’t be touched by a starving innocent kitten lost somewhere ,which is where I’ve found most all my babies =^··^= <3

        Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 13, 2015 at 6:04 am (4 years ago)

      I love that there’s a word for a real cat lover in the Polish language that is not a pejorative!

      Reply
  5. Catherine
    July 19, 2015 at 1:34 pm (4 years ago)

    It’s really about the “spinster” part of the stereotype, not about loving cats. I know a lot ladies with big families and a lot of grandchildren who can’t stop bringing(rescue) cats home–but nobody is making a stereotype about grandmother cat ladies. It’s the spinster cat lady that people look down upon. Actually it’s just the spinster period, I think. Why? I think many young women are afraid of not finding the right man and of being alone the rest of their lives. So they look at spinster cat ladies as something they don’t want to be. And then society is threatened by the idea of a nurturing woman not having kids. If a woman is single without kids AND without cats, then maybe she would have made a horrible mother anyway. But the cat lady obviously has a lot of love to give to the helpless, so society tries to discourage it for whatever stupid reason and to put a womans energies in the “right” direction. Young women need to realize that cat ladies are alone because men are realistically not always preferable to cats(sorry guys). And society need to realize that the earth has too many of two things, kids and cats. The cat lady is just not making a bad situation worse or/and trying to help. There is NOTHING wrong with being a cat lady or cat man, or cat couple, but I do strongly suggest that if you are going to become one, you should also become involved with a good rescue agency.

    Reply
  6. ariana
    June 17, 2015 at 1:07 pm (4 years ago)

    I hate that term, which i consider deeply sexist too. When i have been called it i tried to gather my wits and respond something like this: “why, because i care deeply about another species? in a world in which we are taught from a very young age that humans are the supreme being and rule the planet and decide the fate of all other animals? i have a different view, that i believe is more compassionate and respectful of this planet and ALL its inhabitants…” Of course, they’re probably long gone by then….Sigh.

    Reply
    • Cathryn
      February 3, 2018 at 12:25 pm (1 year ago)

      I realize this is an old post but I just wanted to say that I agree with Ariana 100%!! As a woman who has been married to the same man for 30+ years I find it disheartening when family or friends make derogatory comments about me (and sometimes my husband) when they find out how many cats we have. I can’t count all of the times I have been called a crazy cat lady. All of our kitties have been rescues. My husband and I have no children together (he has a daughter and grandchildren from a previous marriage). No one would ever think of saying to someone that they were crazy for having 4 or 5 children but think nothing of making nasty comments when they find out that we have 5 cats.

      I totally agree with your comment about humans being the supreme beings that decide the fate of all other animals on the planet. We have a different view as well. We became vegetarians for moral reasons about 10 years ago as we could no longer live with being hypocrites. Unfortunately, you are also correct when you say that people, for the most part, don’t want to listen to any view that does not agree with their own….. Sigh.

      Reply
  7. Helen Chapman
    September 20, 2011 at 8:06 am (8 years ago)

    Ingrid,

    I am also a rescuer, and a writer of things feline. However, I figure since they’re going to call me that anyway, I may as well embrace the term.

    In I Love Cats magazine, you will see my byline as Helen Chapman, the Crazy Cat Lady. After years of objecting to the term, I figured out that maybe it’s not a bad thing. Sure we may be crazy to everyone else, but we do no harm, and we can make a difference in the lives of these precious little furballs. After working for a divorce lawyer for 15 years, I definitely prefer my cats to a lot of people.

    So, yeah. I am a crazy cat lady. And proud of it. >^.^<

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 20, 2011 at 8:47 am (8 years ago)

      I agree that cats are preferable to a lot of people, Helen. That still doesn’t make me a crazy cat lady :-).

      Reply
  8. Pam
    July 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm (8 years ago)

    I have 4 dogs and 1 cat. Yes, I have been called a “crazy dog lady.” Thank you for this great post, Ingrid. It does apply to both dog lovers and cat lovers.

    I love your blog, Ingrid. I have learned so many wonderful things to help me care for my beloved cat better and better! (And yes, he is the king of the house, above all the dogs! He does not let them forget it, either!)

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm (8 years ago)

      I’m so glad you love my blog, Pam! And I’m happy to hear that your cat is making sure the dogs know their places in your household :-).

      Reply
  9. Harry
    July 20, 2011 at 9:07 am (8 years ago)

    Actually, Ingrid, I have been called a “crazy cat guy.” I volunteer for a rescue, coordinate volunteers, counsel adoptions, and have seven cats (well, four and three spares). So yes, even guys do sometimes get tarred with the epithet. I have just come to embrace it – my reply is always “yes, I am – and what do you do to make the world a better place?”

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm (8 years ago)

      What a great response to people who call you crazy, Harry! And I love the “four and three spares” explanation.

      Reply
  10. maru
    July 20, 2011 at 8:49 am (8 years ago)

    “Stereotypes are oversimplified definitions…” is the core of it, sometimes people who like cats -and pets in general- are ‘out of limits’ -I’m talking about excess- but most of us just share our lives with cats and love the experience… love them.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm (8 years ago)

      Maru, I agree.

      Reply
  11. Anna
    July 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm (8 years ago)

    Well said, Ingrid! Thank you for making us think!!!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 5:19 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks, Anna. I’m curious: is there an equivalent to the term “crazy cat lady” in Germany and/or Greece?

      Reply
  12. Vicki Cook
    July 19, 2011 at 11:47 am (8 years ago)

    I guess my question is what phrase should we use to describe ourselves? Sane single female cat fanciers? You know I’m kidding, but I do think we need to offer an alternative phrase.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm (8 years ago)

      Vicki, how about just calling ourselves cat lovers? After all, that’s what unites us: our love for cats.

      Reply
  13. Bernadette
    July 19, 2011 at 11:36 am (8 years ago)

    I’ve lived with at least seven cats for nearly 30 years, I run around rescuing them, I photograph them, I paint them, I talk about them, etc, etc, and when someone says, “You really are the crazy cat lady,” it’s all I can do to keep from spitting in their face, and I don’t do things like that. I love to live with cats, and I help homeless cats whenever I can which sometimes means I’ve got plenty more than seven. I am the reference person for many friends who need to make decisions for their cats or understand what they veterinarian is trying to explain. I give an enhanced level of care for my own cats. That makes me crazy?

    Is there a crazy dog lady? There are plenty of “spinsters” who seem to be “romance challenged” who live with a herd of dogs. Where is the stigma for them?

    The way we refer to ourselves, or the way we let others refer to us, is the way we are identified. Defy stereotypes. Don’t use them on yourself or anyone else. Don’t laugh when someone uses a derogatory reference. Don’t call me a crazy cat lady! If you do, I’ll send either my Tortie Girls, the enforcers, or the Fantastic Four, big, strong black cats after you, and you can see how wonderful cats are and become a cat person yourself!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm (8 years ago)

      Bravo, Bernadette. With tortie power and the power of four on your side, I seriously doubt anyone would dare call you a crazy cat lady.

      Seriously, though – thank you for your thoughtful response. I wholeheartedly agree.

      Reply
    • Harry
      July 20, 2011 at 9:08 am (8 years ago)

      Bernadette – isn’t it the Fantastic Five?

      Reply
  14. Caroline
    July 19, 2011 at 10:54 am (8 years ago)

    Well said, Ingrid!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks, Caroline!

      Reply
  15. Ann
    July 19, 2011 at 9:47 am (8 years ago)

    You never hear anyone referred to as the crazy dog lady. Why is that?
    Ann

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm (8 years ago)

      You’re right Ann. I wonder why that is? Probably for the same reason that cat guys aren’t referred to as “crazy,” either. In other words: no rational reason!

      Reply
  16. Deborah Julian
    July 19, 2011 at 9:16 am (8 years ago)

    Ingrid, you are absolutely right! Thanks for such a great post. My cats are endlessly fascinating and wonderful companions.

    Deborah Julian
    http://www.DeborahJulian.etsy.com

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks, Debbie.

      Reply
  17. Max the Quilt Cat
    July 19, 2011 at 9:09 am (8 years ago)

    Yep… nothing crazy about loving cats. Love the drawing.

    pawhugs, Max

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm (8 years ago)

      Glad you like the drawing, Max – wish I could claim credit, but I can’t draw anything beyond stick figures…

      Reply
  18. Gracey, The Tiniest Tiger
    July 19, 2011 at 8:42 am (8 years ago)

    Super Hurrah! Well said Ingrid. Congratulations on your nominations for the two Petties!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks, Gracey – and congratulations on your nomination!

      Reply

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