Saturday, September 26, 2009
By Julia Williams
Although I couldn’t find any information on who actually coined the term “Crazy Cat Lady,” it supposedly was first used to describe a cat hoarder, i.e., someone who collects hundreds of cats. Hoarders have serious mental health issues; hence, these cat collectors were called “crazy” despite the very un-pc nature of that slang term.
Later, the term Crazy Cat Lady evolved as a stereotypical label for a lonely, (usually older and always single) woman who either has a house full of felines, or one who likes cats “a little too much.” The Crazy Cat Lady is the butt of many jokes, and she’s made out to be someone who is unnaturally obsessed with cats. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone mocking the Crazy Cat Ladies, I’d be rich.
I’ve often wondered, though, how people determine whether someone fits the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype. How many cats does it take to qualify? How much “cat love” is too much? Are you a Crazy Cat Lady if you wear something emblazoned with a kitty, or have cat knick-knacks in your home? Why do we never hear of Crazy Dog Men? Do the same rules even apply to men?
So many questions, and the only one I have a definitive answer to is how many cats it takes to be called a Crazy Cat Lady. I know it has absolutely nothing to do with the number, and everything to do with attitude and lifestyle. You can be a Crazy Cat Lady with one cat, or a dozen. If you dare to choose cats over the traditional route of marriage and children, then you’re most definitely a CCL.
For years, I had a cartoon on my fridge with a woman who said, “My husband told me I had to choose between him and the cats. We miss him sometimes.” It still makes me laugh when I think of it, and I only threw it away because it became tattered and unreadable.
I haven’t always been a Crazy Cat Lady, because I was married for five years. But I am a CCL now, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I really don’t care what anyone calls me, or who judges me because I choose to love cats. My three cats are among my very best friends, and they bring me the greatest happiness and joy. If someone thinks this is wrong or weird, so be it. I’m content with my choices and lifestyle, and this is all that matters to me.
However, I was a bit surprised to see that the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype has become so ingrained in our society. I discovered this by accident when, out of curiosity, I googled the phrase one day.
I found out there is a Crazy Cat Ladies Society whose purpose is “to use humor to counter the stereotypes made about people who love cats.” They say that claiming the CCL phrase on their own terms takes away its power to offend. Whether it actually does or not, I do appreciate that they’re using humor instead of indignation to counter the stereotype. I don’t personally see the need to be a member, but good for them for taking a stand.
Would it surprise you to learn that there are dozens of products out there devoted to the Crazy Cat Lady? It did me. There is a Crazy Cat Lady Board Game illustrated by four goofily dressed women with silly expressions on their faces. The aim of the game is to collect cats, of course, and the player with the most cats wins.
Then there is the Crazy Cat Lady Magnetic Sculpture Kit, which includes a figure and 12 metal cats that will jump on her the first chance they get. There is a Crazy Cat Lady Nightshirt with a cute illustration on the front, a Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure that comes with six cats (only six?) and a hardcover book titled Outing the Cat Lady: Embracing Your Feline Addiction with Style.
Last but not least is a product that isn’t specifically associated with the Crazy Cat Lady label, but leaves no doubt who the target market is. The Cat Butt Magnet Set includes five furry feline behinds and a hairball. Um…cat butts? I must admit, I find the notion of displaying cat butts on your fridge a little bit strange. It takes the CCL concept to a whole different level. But hey, to each their own.
If there is a Crazy Cat Lady in your life, now you know what to get them for Christmas!
Read more articles by Julia Williams