Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why The Crazy part of Crazy Cat Lady Must End

Being a human being of the female variety who loves and owns cats I have been made fully aware of the "Crazy Cat Lady" stereotype. I have never ever been a fan.

A number of cat ladies have decided that they were going to 'embrace' the crazy part of this status and fully ignore the negative that comes with it. Kudos to them. Really. It is so nice when you find people who can be made fun of and they simply do not care. Unfortunately, that has never stopped people from continuing to talk badly. Nor does it empower people, of lesser constitutions who feel the need to not be made fun of, to stand up for themselves. However, I do think that by allowing this stereotype to continue we harm cats.

Just about every time the conversation about 'crazy' comes up in regards to cat people, invariably the question about why the people who love dogs aren't considered crazy, and inevitably someone pipes up and says "yes, I am a crazy dog person" It is not the same.

Crazy Cat Lady action figure vs Crazy Dog Lady image (from this etsy shop)
Notice how the Cat Cat lady isn't wearing clothes, how her hair is unkempt and she looks grumpy, whereas the Crazy Dog lady is wearing pants, she appears happy and approachable. The Crazy Cat Lady is seen as an anti-social, a hoarder living in squalid conditions that reek of cat odor and is a danger to her own health, the health of her cats and the health of her neighbors. The Crazy Dog Lady is thought of as fun, social, a bit weird maybe, but totally someone you could relate to if left alone to talk, and she is most certainly not date-able nor destined to be a spinster. The crazy in Crazy Dog Lady is the "enthusiastic" meaning of the word crazy, where the Crazy Cat Lady is forced to wear the mentally deranged, foolish, absurdly out of place, or even the extremely annoyed or angry parts of that definition.

So what does this have to do with improving the lives of cats? Young women are afraid of being the crazy cat lady and being shunned by friends and potential future husbands/mates. I have actually heard this argument from men as well. Being called a Crazy Cat Lady is and always will be a 'bad thing' to non-cat people (except those people who don't care what others call them).

In 2013 the tv show "The Crazy Ones" did an episode with a cat in it. If you aren't aware of the show, it is about an ad agency with four young people, two male and two female - one of which is the daughter of the owner of the agency Simon - which just happens to be the late great Robin Williams. I adored the show, but this one episode in particular really spoke to me and I adore the ending, but there were a couple of scenes where Syndey (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is either told or parrots that older single women should NOT have a cat as it spells out their doom forever finding a mate which should be their life goal. I particularly dislike this moment seventeen minutes into the show (well this video - which was pretty badly recorded but was the only version out there right now)

It is sad that we as a society have come to this. I can only guess that cats are vilified because they are independent and not pack animals like dogs. Liking cats says you are okay not going along with the group and spending time in your own company;  Liking dogs, being pack animals that generally need to socialize and need approval of the being in charge. On a personal note, I find this so fascinating because men rarely state they want a clingy seeking approval woman in their life but want a strong independent woman, but yet they are drawn to dogs and shun the idea of a cat... but I digress.

Cats have such horrible reputations. Almost everyone who comes into my house is amazed I have seven+ cats (seven who live here and any random number of cats who are being fostered) because in general my house does not smell of cats, nor is there an abundance of cat hair, or whatever cat stereotype they expect to find. Yes, my cats are raw fed so their litter box smell is minimal, to begin with, but as completely sane cat people, we take care of our cat's needs and their refuse.  Why is it people don't expect the house of a dog person to smell like wet dog or be covered in excrement but they do for cats? My cats don't (generally) suck up to strangers and stick their muzzles in inappropriate places, and as such, they are labeled aloof, despite the fact that they were all over me two minutes before company showed up.

And then there was this video...

(btw, the 47-year-old kicks butt!!)

This is an absolutely lovely video until you get to the 53 yr old at 2:15 where she says one cat is enough cats... it is not only what she says, but HOW she says it. I literally commented with a swear word on the Facebook post where I first saw it, fortunately my phone changed it into "Duck you 53 yr old, cats are awesome" which I think makes my point a bit more elegantly, because when you swear in the comments section, no one listens to you, and they put you in that 'crazy' category of people who don't need to be listened to (see what I did there?)

Owning a cat, and better yet saying you own a cat, should not be something you have to feel brave to do. No one has to 'stand up' for owning a dog, nor justify to anyone if they want to spend their time visiting the theme parks of the US to ride all of the roller coasters, go spelunking, or collect rubber ducks.  We should never EVER have to use the words 'heck I even have a husband' when talking about how awesome cats are because seriously, cats are freakin awesome! and they certainly do not need us to justify it.

So let's not buy in, give credence, or accept that owning a cat makes you crazy. What makes you crazy is having an actual mental condition.

Owning a cat.. well, being owned by a cat.. is..


and if you want to call me crazy for putting a tiara on a cat or doing this, by all means, you do have every right to, but I will think you are crazy for being so closed minded.


  1. My human tried to make this same point in her column and she got bashed so badly by people who bragged about being proud of their crazy cat lady status, when the whole thing had to do with the cats and not them to begin with. It was really disheartening.

  2. I loathe the crazy cat lady stereotype, too, and have written about it in the past, only to be overwhelmed with comments from readers bragging about how proud they are to be called a crazy cat lady, just like Summer's human. It is frustrating. Unfortunately, even some of the big scale publications and events centered around cats tend to play into the stereotype rather than helping dispel it. I don't know what the answer is - other than to keep reiterating that loving cats is a beautiful thing.

  3. Amen. That is all.

  4. Right on, sister! Well said, and I agree.

  5. Bravo and well said!!! If the word "crazy" is attached to those with a mental illness, it is deemed derogatory. So why is it OK to attach the word to those who have cats -regardless of the number? Until pet owners of any variety and number are seen in the same light, we do a disservice to those animals, owners and those in rescue who work so hard to save lives just to be faced with ridicule. Embracing the term doesn't make it less offensive.

  6. Well said. It amazes me how this awful stereotype flourishes in a world increasingly preoccupied with political correctness.

  7. Bravo! We agree with you 100 percent!

  8. Having cats is a wonderful thing! I couldn't agree more. Living with an actual mental illness, I've been considered crazy all of my life. I do my best to educate the people around me about my disorder. "Crazy" is an outdated word in total when referring to actual mental illnesses (the same goes for "retarded"). The people who fit the stereotype of a "crazy cat lady" actually suffer from a very serious mental illness that is still being heavily researched to find the best treatments.It is quite discriminatory the way they are referred to. I would like to see cat people redefined in culture.

  9. Cats are awesome! That's all we have to say.

    Emma and Buster

  10. You make a very good point. I mostly tend to get the feeling that some of the "crazy cat ladies" comments or references are just having fun. Then again, I am not easily offended. I think the only thing that really offends me and gets under my skin are "skinny shaming" things and they might be the only thing I'd leave an angry curse comment on lol. But it's something I associate with myself and feel like it could be directed towards me as a person. I do consider myself a cat person, but I guess I just don't identify with being a "crazy cat lady" myself. You make an excellent point with the cat lady and dog lady stereotype comparison.

  11. Well said. I don't like the "crazy cat lady" term either. I guess I don't have the thick skin that some others have. ~Island Cat Mom

  12. I agree with you completely. I am so sick of people thinking I have cats because I couldn't have kids. I chose to spend my life with my kitties and not have kids and wouldn't have it any other way.

  13. Anonymous5:20 AM

    I love this post! Me myself, I am a 34 year old single woman and moving to a new house so my EIGHT cats can cuddle with me all they want without being under the disapproving look of my mother (generally, in my part of the world, singles live with their parents until they get married). Every time friends ask who I'm going to live with, I answer adoringly "My cats!". I just love watching the expression on their faces when they heard that!

  14. Maybe we need to start using another term, like classy cat lady, caring cat lady, etc. Get it out there and use it. Maybe things will change. Maybe we can get other caring cat lady bloggers in on this.

  15. Great post. There are alot of 'crazy cat men' out there too!!

  16. I'm glad you're debunking the stereotype!

  17. I found a new word - ailurophile - means cat lover.
    It's elegant isn't it?
    Ignorant people who use the words 'crazy cat lady' in any kind of sequence at all deserve a slap - imho.

  18. . The idea of a woman choosing to be alone with her cats instead of marrying whoever will have her is seen as a threat to patriarchy To shame single cat women is to discourage contentment with not seeking male validation in the form of marriage. Women who choose not to have children will often direct their nurturing energy towards animals instead. I think men want us scrambling and competing for their approval and to just "give up" and drop out of the game is too independent an act. I am feeling like society is saying to me " How dare you be happy living a different life then the rest of us. For shame!

    What these fearful young women don't realize is cat ladies (even those who fit the stereotype) choose to be single for various reasons..maybe they were raped beaten and cheated on too many times. Maybe they don't trust anyone anymore because of abuse. The stereotype doesn't elaborate as to WHY this woman doesn't have a man--it just assumes it's not by choice. The stereotype never indicates she CHOOSES not to have a man! The stereotype always assumes that she is unattractive so therefore she CAN'T get a man. it never assumes she doesn't want a man and therefore isn't motivated to enhance her attractiveness.

    In the movie "The Guilt Trip" a son is trying to talk his mother into remarrying. She explains she is happy about staying single and wants to stay single.. She explains she was married before and couldn't eat MM's in bed. She was always criticized for it.The mother in the movie doesn't own not one cat but the not owning a cat thing has NOTHING to do with the joy of being able to eat MM's in bed. She doesn't need to have cats to be happily single. Now If this woman happened to love cats instead of MM"s and wants cats in bed..then suddenly young women are afraid to be her..-they are afraid to be happily single? There are worse things.

    There is someone for everyone. A lid for every pot as they say. They WANT to be alone. Some women LIKE being single. A LOT of women actually LIKE being single and actually WANT to be. That is what I am trying to say.

    And what is a royal shame is that many single ladies are afraid to get cats for fear of being ridiculed for it--this must end!. .


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