The term “cat lady” has gotten a bad reputation. It brings up images of a lonely old spinster living a secluded life, with only her cats for companionship. Worse yet, it makes you think of news stories about hoarders who live in squalid conditions with hundreds of cats. Often combined with the word “crazy,” the pejorative nature of the label leaves a bad taste, even when used with humorous self-deprecation.
The term “cat lady” is a stereotype, whether it’s used in conjunction with the word “crazy” or on its own, and like all stereotypes, it is overly simplified and based on assumptions. I consider myself a cat lady, and I’m far from crazy. Many of my friends are cat ladies, and they aren’t crazy, either.
So what does being a cat lady really mean?
It means loving cats, and appreciating them for the unique and fascinating creatures they are.
It means educating yourself and others about cat health and nutrition to ensure a happy, healthy life for the cats in your care. Cats don’t require much, but they do require us to be their advocated when it comes to their health and well-being.
It means understanding feline behavior. Behavioral problems are the main reason why cats are returned to shelters, and many of these issues are easily corrected when life is viewed from the cat’s point of view. Thinking like a cat isn’t all that difficult, and understanding a cat’s behavior, enhances the bond between cat and human.
It means caring for cats – and this doesn’t just mean caring for our own pet cats, but caring for cats in our communities. It means supporting local shelters and rescue groups. This can be done through volunteering: fostering, visiting shelter cats and socializing them, assisting at adoption events, and more. This can also be done through donating money or supplies.
It means understanding and supporting TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs and policies, and educating others about the plight of free roaming cats.
Cat ladies are as varied as the cats they love. They’re single or married. They’re grandmothers, mothers and daughters. They’re writers, lawyers, doctors, waitresses, retail sales clerks, and secretaries. They’re wealthy, comfortably off or barely scraping by. They may not have much in common, but they will recognize each other when they meet. What unites them is their unabiding and unapologetic love for cats.
And that’s what being a cat lady really means.
This article was originally published on Answers.com and is republished with permission.