Those of you who’ve known me for a while know that I really dislike the term “crazy cat lady.” I feel that it diminishes those of us who love cats for the unique and wonderful creatures that they are by assigning a label that has a negative connotation, even if it’s used with humorous self-deprecation. Mayim Bialik and PetSmart Charities agree with me that it’s time to bust the stereotype. Continue Reading
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.
A recent study by the ASPCA looked at how people pick a shelter pet. The Wall Street Journal reports that the research, conducted by the animal-advocacy organization from January through May of 2011, involved five shelters across the country. About 1,500 adopters filled out questionnaires explaining how they knew the cat or dog was “the one.”
According to the study, “physical appearance” is the top reason given for picking a dog. With cats, “behavior with people” was what convinced most adopters to choose a particular adult cat.
You can read more about the study in the Wall Street Journal. Continue Reading
I’d venture that most of us can remember the cat that started it all: the one cat that launched us on the path of loving cats. For some, it may be a childhood cat, for others, it may be a more recent, an unexpected feline who decided that it was time for the human to share her life with a cat, or two or three.
I didn’t get my first cat until I was in my twenties. I was not allowed to have pets as a child; the apartment building I grew up in would not permit them, but I would temporarily adopt cats for the duration of almost every family vacation. I grew up in Germany, and in those days, a typical vacation meant that you went to one place and stayed there for two or three weeks at a time. We stayed at small bed-and-breakfasts or rented a vacation condo, and somehow, at every place we stayed, we would either find a resident cat or two, or there would be a number of stray cats hanging around the property. The times I spent with these cats make up some of my happiest childhood memories.
Feebee was a grey tabby cat who was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to a cat named Blue, Continue Reading
Do you exchange Valentine’s gifts with your friends and family? If you do, there’s bound to be a cat lover or two on your list. Even if you just send cards (and who doesn’t love to receive a real card in the mail in this age of e-cards), you’re probably looking for something that expresses your love for cats. Here are some suggestions that will be sure to delight the kitties or the cat lover in your life.
Deborah Julian offers a number of wonderful cat-themed Valentine’s cards (like the one at the top of the post) in her Etsy shop. I also love this refrigerator magnet – wouldn’t it make the purrfect gift for the cat guy in your life?Continue Reading
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.
I consider myself a reasonably well-adjusted human being. I’m a self-employed professional with a large circle of friends. I’m an introvert, but I enjoy spending time with people and have a varied social life. I love cats, but I don’t think I’m a crazy cat lady. So I have a few cat-themed decorations around my house. Okay, a lot of cat-themed decorations. And yes, I do carry pictures of my cats in my wallet. But really, I’m not a crazy cat lady!
People who love too much are often called codependent. Webster’s defines codependency as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another.” Sounds like a typical human-feline relationship to me — aren’t most cat owners controlled by their cats? In other words, isn’t that perfectly normal?
I decided to dig a little deeper and actually came across some check lists that are meant to help you determine whether you love your cat too much. The first question:
How much do you allow your cat to interfere with your daily life?
I work from home, so my cats are part of my daily life. But I don’t consider that interfering. In fact, I consider myself lucky that I can be with them while I work. So maybe the person coming up with this question just wasn’t really a pet person. Next question:
Do you refer to your cat as if she were human?
Occasionally guilty. But I always know that I’m doing it, so that makes it okay, right?
Does your life revolve around the daily requirements of your cat?
Guilty again. But doesn’t everyone’s life revolve around their pet? Why else have one? Moving on.
Do you relate to your cat to the exclusion of relationships with family and friends?
Whew! I can honestly answer no to this one. (I told you I’m not a crazy cat lady.) So all things considered, I don’t think I have a codependent relationship with my cats.
But then I got to this question:
Do you forego going out of town because you don’t want to leave your cat?
And there you have it. Guilty as charged. Anytime the prospect of even a short trip looms, I get stressed about it. Even though we have the best pet sitter in the world, who comes to visit at least twice a day when I’m away, I still fret and worry the whole time I’m gone. Most of all, I just plain miss my girls.
If that means I love my cats too much, then so be it.
Photo above is with Amber.
Susan Faye loves to create whimsical portraits of cats and their humans. She lives in the Great Pacific Northwest on the banks of Willamina Creek with a cat or two and a room full of really great art supplies. She has been a professional artist for most of her adult life, and in addition to painting cat ladies, she enjoys painting traditional watercolors and nature studies, and designing hand-crafted giftware and jewelry. She also enjoys gardening, hiking, birdwatching, and photography.
Welcome to The Conscious Cat, Susan.
Thanks Ingrid, I am delighted to be here (in that mysterious and magical cyberspace sort of way!)
How do your cats inspire your art?
I’ve always been enchanted by cats — I love their shiny bright eyes, their beautiful markings and soft fur, their quirky personalities and their apparent ongoing inner battle between devotion and detachment. I’ve always had at least one cat in my life since about the age of 7, so there has been quite a LONG parade of personalities that have inspired me. I must say, however, that I am an equal-opportunity pet lover and have just as much affection for the dogs, guinea pigs, gold fish, parakeets, and the one Bearded Dragon lizard who have shared my home over the years!
While cats are featured prominently in your artwork, you also paint other subjects. What is more challenging – capturing cats, or capturing other images?
On custom portraits, the cats are pretty easy as long as I have a good photo of their markings– the real challenge is to capture the cat lady or feline fella. Unlike photography, which always seems to add 20 lbs, I tend to eliminate about 20 lbs on my subjects when I draw them. The funny thing is, I’ve had at least three different cat ladies ask for me to “fluff them up” a bit to be more representative of their beautiful curves!
I do love drawing and painting cats and cat ladies in an illustrative, whimsical illustration style, but my other true love is painting more traditional watercolor paintings of nature, including birds and botanicals. These paintings are definitely more challenging for me– the ultimate goal is to “capture light” in the painting and maintain a translucence in the color, always a new challenge with each painting!
What is the creative process like for you?
An over-abundance of creative energy seems to always be surging through my veins (almost to the point of obsession, and to the detriment of any reasonable attempt at housekeeping!) which probably came from growing up in a household where building, making, sewing, and decorating things was always going on. My best ideas seem to pop into my head out of nowhere, and I’ve found that the trick is to learn how to “empty out” the analytical, linear, practical left side of your brain so that the creative, intuitive, spatial right side of your brain can just fill up. If you TRY to fill it up, it won’t happen. If you just “let go”, it will fill up to the point of spilling over.
Once I have an idea, I’ll work on pencil sketches and small studies to work out composition and colors, then transfer the design to watercolor paper with light pencil lines. Then I start filling in sections, layering, and blending with color. It’s a lot like a construction process–you have to think about your foundation and then building up different layers in a certain order. That’s where the analytical side of my brain gets to have some input and feel really useful!
Tell us a little about your feline family members.
I currently have one indoor cat, Buttonwillow, and two semi-feral cuties who live in my carport: Sweet Pea and Mr. Smokey. Buttonwillow was born to Sweet Pea under my house soon after I moved in, but renounced her feral status when she got a taste of the good life indoors. All have since been spayed and neutered. You can find out more about Buttonwillow on my blog– recently she put together a great physical fitness routine for couch potatoes.
You can find more information about Susan’s art on her website, and you can also find many of her wonderful creations on her Etsy page. Susan also hosts a wonderful blog titled 365 Cat Ladies, where she showcases her wonderful creations, including stories about the cat ladies and other animal lovers that she‘s had the pleasure of painting.
Susan is offering a giveaway of one of her beautiful pendants – the winner gets to choose which one. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post. Share the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter and leave the link in a separate comment for another chance to win. This giveaway ends December 22.
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As those of you who’ve been following me for a while know, reading is as essential as breathing to me. When I read a book that I find educational, inspirational, helpful, moving, interesting, or just plain fun, I want to share it with everyone. I thought it might be fun to periodically introduce and review some of my favorites here.
Today’s book is The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats by Clea Simon.
This is one of my favorite cat books. It’s a book for cat lovers. It’s a book for women who love their cats. And it’s a book for men who love women who love their cats.
Author Clea Simon examines the bond between cats and women from all angles – from history and mythology to interviews with cat women from all walks of life, the book is a compelling mix of facts about cats and the women who love them. It’s also a memoir of the seventeen years Simon spent with Cyrus, the kitten she adopted as a young single woman.
This is a joyful book, celebrating the role cats play in womens’ lives. If you are a woman who loves cats, or if you want to better understand a woman who loves cats, you will enjoy this book.
For more information about the book, click here. For more information about the author, go to http://www.cleasimon.com
*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.
Those of us who love our cats sometimes wonder whether “normal” people might consider us a bit, shall we say, eccentric? The following are some definite signs that you’re a cat lover:
- You cut your after-work activities short just so you can get home to see your cat.
- You dare not move a muscle when you cat falls asleep at your feet, even if you need to get up to go use the bathroom.
- You sleep in the oddest positions, just so you can accommodate your cat, even if she chooses to plonk herself in the middle of your bed.
- You take your cat’s name as your online name.
- When you’re telling a friend about having to take the cat to the V-E-T, you whisper and your eyes dart furtively around the room to make sure your cat isn’t within earshot.
- You feel naked if your clothes aren’t covered in cat hair.
- If you own more than one cat, you can tell which cat threw up just by looking at the pile.
Of course, none of us cat lovers consider any of these things abnormal!