Posted by Mary
Yesterday I was doing the dishes when I asked my significant other if he thought I was a “crazy cat lady.” He said yes and then reminded me how when he first met me I lived in a tiny studio apartment with three cats. He claimed he smelled cat litter when he walked through the door and was quite surprised to see three kitties staring at him.
Of course, I vehemently disagreed with his assessment. The only reason he smelled cat litter was because I put the very clean litter box right by the door. Once you walked into my tiny place it was spotless in my view. (I am obsessive and compulsive when it comes to cleaning.)
I asked him this because in recent weeks I have been noticing a movement on social media decrying the use of the term “crazy cat lady.” Many people feel it is a deragatory term that represents an older woman who lives in a dirty house with lots of pet cats. In fact, Modern Cat Magazine just had an article about the subject and they describe it like this:
The term “crazy cat lady” refers to “an elderly suburban widow who lives alone and keeps dozens or more pet cats—usually many more than municipal code allows—in a small house, and refuses to give away or sell them even for the sake of the safety of the cats or herself.” Another definition reads, “Someone who can’t seem to get a date … or anything. It’s like [being] forever alone—except you get cats.” From gifs to memes to action figures to Halloween costumes to characters on popular TV shows, the so-called “crazy cat lady” has received a pretty bad rap.
For years, most of my friends, family, exes and co-workers have called me a crazy cat lady. I always used to tell them I consider that a badge of honor so bring it on! But lately I’ve been thinking it may be time to correct them!
A few months ago I attended a seminar that featured the Kitten Lady, whose real name is Hannah Shaw. She’s an expert on fostering neonatal kittens, an amazing animal educator and the ultimate advocate for kitties. She gave an inspiring presentation and each year she produces hundreds of videos to show people how to care for the smallest of kittens. Not too long ago I watched one of her YouTube videos, where I learned the stereotype of the crazy cat lady is actually damaging to cats.
In her video she talks about how “crazy cat lady” actually discourages participation in the protection of cats. She also believes the language we as cat people use is important because it frames not only our own self worth, but also how other people perceive us.
The Kitten Lady also said something which really resonated with me… “when we depict cat people as crazy, it discourages others from getting involved in a really important cause. When seven out of 10 cats who enter United States shelters are being held there, we need smart and sophisticated people of all backgrounds to be involved in helping to change that.”
I never really thought about the underlying meaning of “crazy cat lady.” When I think about it… with kittens being the number one euthanized animals in shelters across the country, it’s time to stop the stereotyping and get felines the care and attention they deserve. If that happens, all will be Whisker Fabulous!