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

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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33 thoughts on “Isn’t It Time to Retire the Crazy Cat Lady Stereotype?

  1. Love this article! I don’t know if this out-of-print book would be considered a memoir but I love “The Cat Who Came in from the Cold” by Deric Longden. My kids and I listened to the book on tape and just fell in love with the true story of Thermal.

  2. What a great post! In my opinion, it’s people who don’t like cats that are the sad and lonely ones.

    I’ve read some wonderful cat memoirs. Obviously the article you mention was written by some ignorant cat hater.

  3. Well I’ll be, I did read this post but until you mentioned it Mom never noticed you mentioned MY OWN book! Shocking! Thanks so much for the shout out, even if Mom was too dull-witted that day to appreciate it.

    Purrs Fin & Meg

  4. Right on, Julia! And as a feminist I’d like to dump the term “lady” as well. It brings to mind that automaton from the fifties; you know the one: high heels, white gloves (she had style, she had grace, and she always knew her place). Just like my cats, as a WOMAN, my place is wherever I want it to be. Hiss to the labelers!

  5. I say raspberries to whoever wrote that useless article and tried to pitch dogs vs cats (yaaaaaaaaawn) and drag out all the tired notions of CCLs. It must have been a very slow, very boring very sad sack time in that article’s writer’s life to be writing such tired, tired, tired nonsense.
    Take care

  6. Great article! in a household of three young,lively boys and five cats and a dog, I can honestly say that the cats were the easiest to look after. Think a cat makes the greatest pet in terms of low maintenance. As much as I also love dogs, I am not able to walk them or pick up after them properly. All our cats have been abandoned or strays. So, what were we supposed to do – just let them freeze or starve? Think the person who wrote this article is highly prejudiced and ‘off the wall’. If she loves dogs so much – fine!, just shut up and enjoy them and leave the cat lovers alone. -Really stupid analysis!

  7. I love ,y cat..I have always love my cats. I loved my dogs too until cats supplanted themin my heart.

    I get made fun of gently because my blog shows how much I love my little girl cat. But she has shown me fourteen years of true love right back. All she knows is love- all of her life since she was rescued as a tiny girl..and that still holds true. She reflects that love right back to me. It is part of what makes it so heart wrenchign when they are sick and when they leave us.

    Thank you for this article.

  8. Bravo, Julia! This topic is a hot button for me – I hate the term crazy cat lady, and I think as bloggers and writers, we not only have an opportunity, but a responsibility, to stop using it and raise awareness of what an insulting term it is to those of us who love cats.

    Thank you for mentioning Buckley’s Story!

  9. I don’t care what people say. There’s nothing like the company of cats. At one point my dad actually lived like a hermit, avoiding all human contact and holed up in his tiny apartment with Isaac, his then-best friend and companion.

  10. Ooo, good article. I guess that I’m doubly living the stereotype – I’m a librarian AND I love cats. It really annoys me to no end when people act like I’m somehow crazy or strange or whatever when I mention that I have multiple cats. If cats make me happy, then that’s no one else’s business, and certainly shouldn’t be fodder for “fun” jokes.

  11. This writer sounds super annoying. My mom is part cat person and part dog person and doesn’t fit the stereotypes for either one. We loved Homer’s Odyssey. I would also add The Zen of Max as another wonderful and inspiring cat memoir.

  12. Great article. It was time for someone to stick up for cat ladies. There isn’t anything crazy about us. It is just that we admit that we love cats and some of us do have too many but who cares. The people who have too many dogs and love dogs best of all just don’t admit to it so we don’t have crazy dog ladies. I like this post.

  13. If you love any animal that much, including cats, why does it matter what others think? Non dog people think I’m strange that I have 3 dogs. So what? Rejoice in the fact you have love in your life- in multibles.

  14. YEAH!!! Mom is tired of it too….never fails that someone asks how many of us live in the house and she feels like she can’t tell the truth for fear of what others will think. We say screw them….. Mom loves cats, is a little crazy sometimes and is a lady (ok, not often – MOL), but the stereotype it so wrong. Heck, some weekends we don’t see her at all. :)

  15. Terrific post, truly.

    I probably fall more into that stereotype than others, in that I’m pretty anti-social — should say introverted. I enjoy my home and my fur family, prefer their company to that of most humans. At least I prefer their company to that of humans who don’t understand the connection we can have to four-legged Beings. (And I spent 10 years living with an emotional child in a man’s body and wouldn’t do it again.)

    But I, too, would be “anti-social” even if I had no cats, or had dogs or horses instead. Non-humans fill an emotional niche that nothing (and no one) else does.

    BTW, my first soulmate was a horse, as was my second. Neither were my own, though I had two ponies when I was growing up. And if that makes me crazy, well, so be it.

  16. Bravo, Julia! In my opinion, there is no such thing as a “crazy cat lady.” There ARE ladies who are crazy about cats, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Of course, this is coming from a man who is also crazy about cats (and all animals, for that matter). :)

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