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Isn’t It Time to Retire the Crazy Cat Lady Stereotype?

By Julia Williams

I read an article recently that described cat ladies as “quitters” and lonely sad sacks who never leave the house. By contrast, dog ladies were said to be outgoing, athletic, adventurous and full of life. Stereotype much? The article went on to claim that while dog memoirs (aka dogoirs) are inspiring, life-changing things of beauty, no comparable thing could exist for cat memoirs because “cat ladies only get to be one thing: lonely.” Seriously? Excuse me while I hack up a hairball on that article. cough. gag. urk.

Ah, I feel so much better now! =^..^=

I wish I could say this article was satirical, that this stereotypical characterization of the sad sack cat ladies was a joke. But I can’t…because it wasn’t. And this, I must admit, did peeve me just a bit. It doesn’t surprise me though, given that Crazy Cat Ladies are perhaps the last group we – and by “we” I mean society – are still allowed to make fun of. In fact, many people get a big kick out of ridiculing women who love cats, as though there is something wrong with it, something so “abnormal” about it that these women couldn’t possibly be functioning, happy, friendly people who engage in life and with others. Again… cough. gag. urk.

I watched a dumb show once where one of the characters said “Women with candles replaces women with cats as the new sad thing.” Claiming that loving any animal can be sad just seems so idiotic to me. Dogs, cats, horses, hamsters, gerbils or bunnies – why should it matter to anyone else who or what we choose to love? Newsflash! I’m a woman, I love cats, and I am definitely not a sad sack. I’m not lonely either, not one teeny tiny bit. I even leave the house on occasion to interact with society! And guess what? I’m not an anomaly either. I happen to know many women who love cats, and none of them are lonely old spinsters hiding away in a house full of felines.

I used to say I didn’t mind being calling a Crazy Cat Lady because it was true, i.e., I am crazy about cats. I now think perhaps it’s high time that cat-loving people like me advocate for the abolition of this tired old stereotype. Honestly, it’s long past the time when we ought to allow others to disparage anyone for who they choose to love and cherish. I think continuing to allow people to make “women who love cats” the butt of their jokes only serves to keep this ridiculous stereotype alive. Moreover, it’s foolish to proclaim that it’s sad for women to love cats but perfectly acceptable for them to love dogs.

Now, I know I am eccentric and a bit antisocial at times, but I certainly can’t blame that on my cats. I would be exactly who I am if there were no cats in my home. If I had 3 dogs instead of 3 cats, would I be more outgoing, more engaged in life, happier even? Nope. Not one bit. And get this. I’m not happy “in spite of loving cats.” I am happy precisely because I have cats to love.

One last thing. To the writer who said no compelling cat memoirs could ever exist: I guess you haven’t heard of the New York Times Bestseller Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper, about a blind cat who teaches his owner what love really means. Or Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron; Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by Dr. David Dosa; Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family by Helen Brown; Buckley's Story: Lessons From a Feline Master Teacher by Ingrid King; Housecat Confidential by Fin and Meg S. Hart, and The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey by Deborah Barnes.

These are just a handful of the many wonderful cat memoirs that have been published in recent years. These books have – and will continue – to find an audience, and to touch the hearts of many. Moreover, bestselling cat memoirs are being bought and read by women AND men, young and old alike. So you see, the sad sack Crazy Cat Ladies are not the only ones who understand just how delightful cats can be! 

Top photo by Rakka
Bottom photo by Splityarn

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