She is a hot mess with her disheveled hair. Her unflattering clothes with cat hair scream “forever alone”. This middle-aged, miserable woman is surrounded by a multitude of cats she calls children. She is called a Crazy Cat Lady.

Have you met her? Is she real? Let’s take a deeper look into the Crazy Cat Lady persona by deconstructing the term word by word.

Crazy

First of all, I hope people will stop sharing that inconclusive study about Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in feces of infected cats that allegedly causes psychotic symptoms in humans. Those toxic articles do not tell us that preventing that infection is as simple as a good habit of washing your hands thoroughly, especially after handling raw meat, gardening, and cleaning the litter box, as well as sanitizing all kitchen items.

Actual studies, on the contrary, promote that having cats is beneficial to our self-esteem, could lower blood pressure and give us something to live for.

Surprisingly, most cat people will take a lighthearted approach, embrace the term “Crazy Cat Lady”, and be proud of it. Jeng Mamiit, 31, and mommy to nine spayed and neutered cats, finds herself in the company of ladies who don’t look anything like the media portrayal of a crazy cat lady. They are just really crazy in love with their cats like she is. She says, “I don’t mind being called a crazy cat lady because I think we are all crazy over something. We might as well be crazy over our cats!”

Trishia Linsangan, 30, who along with her husband Jesse is owned by 14 rescued cats, shares, “I find it kind of cool. I’m a little on the quirky-slash-crazy side so I take it as a compliment.” She is a proud crazy cat lady because it means she gets to share her life with cats. Both are happily married and fully content, and they do shower and take care of themselves, too. It just so happens that their love and effort goes to babies that fall under the feline species.

Marielle Baluyot, a 29 year-old mother of 14 healthy and sterilized puspins, confesses that the negative connotation of being called a crazy cat lady hurt at first. She now has a broad and higher understanding of what it means to be a Cat Mommy.

Whether one is single or married, reality offers a better perception of modern cat lovers. Newsflash: Cat ladies are not crazy.

Cat

With all the cat memes we consume via the Internet and the cat merchandise we go gaga over, it’s about time that the cat is revered as a great companion. After all, they have gone through a lot and history has the facts.

Cats were domesticated as early as 8,000 – 12,000 years ago when humans began farming and cultivating grain, attracting mice that lured the cats from the wild into human civilizations. The cats domesticated themselves while being great hunters and protector of crops, thus forming a human-cat relationship. Evidence of this relationship can be found in various archaeological discoveries of cat remains being buried beside their owners in China and Cyprus.

In Egypt, they were considered sacred and worshipped as deities, popularly depicted in statues and art, and then mummified after death. They also went through a dark time of being persecuted and burnt, with people accused as witches in the Middle Ages. Cats were associated with the devil for being naturally sleepy during daytime.

By the eighteenth century, surviving with their formidable rodent-killing prowess, they gained respect and started appearing in many literary forms and paintings showing people’s growing emotional attachment to them. Now, cats are accepted throughout the world as the quintessential companion animal.

While the cats’ worldwide upgrade continue with our society also gearing towards more compassion, it is only necessary to make sure the Crazy Cat Lady archetype would not discourage other people from taking care of cats. That moniker is the easiest thing to say when people are mocked for loving cats too much. While it is probably meant as a mere joke, it might hurt the future of cats being adopted or rescued for fear being judged.

Thank goodness that the resurgence of the outdated Crazy Cat Lady costume for Halloween, being one of the easiest things to do last-minute, can be countered by many people wearing a great assortment of cat merchandise all year round. This is cat pride in all its glory.

Lady

Loving cats is not gender-specific. There are as many proud Cat Daddies as much as there are Cat Ladies. This is why the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype fails in representing the vast population of Cat Daddies out there.

One such proud Cat Daddy is 25-year old Mico Souissi who has seven spoiled cats. He shares, “People get surprised because they usually expect men to have dogs, large-breed dogs in particular. They might say that cats aren’t nice and cuddly but I can prove them wrong. My cats have been with me through my ups and downs and they never fail to comfort me and make me feel okay.”

Jeng’s husband Aaron used to be afraid of cats but is now a doting father to their feline children. Jesse, on the other hand, being Trishia’s other half, has always been a cat rescuer like her even before they met.

One might be surprised to know that a great number of men throughout history are proud of having cats as companions. Notable Cat Daddies include George Clooney, David Bowie, Ernest Hemingway, and John Lennon, to name a few. As the famous writer Mark Twain writes, “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

Crazy little thing called Love

We deem something as crazy when an idea sounds absurd and unusual. The presence of crazy in Crazy Cat Lady makes it a pejorative; it expresses a negative connotation of someone.

Kitten rescuer and humane educator Hannah Shaw, popularly known as Kitten Lady, discusses in a podcast called ”How the crazy cat lady stereotype hurts cats (and people)” that the moniker gives the impression that it is not cool to be a cat person. It takes real passion and commitment to sustain raising healthy cats. Why is it that the noble deed of being a great cat parent or foster parent is not widely appreciated? Now, that’s nuts.

Cats nowadays have all their needs available. You name it, we probably have it. Stroller? Check. Cat bed? Check. Portable fans, drinking fountain, quality cat food and treats, security cameras? Check, check, check, check. When we cannot be at home to tend to them, we even hire cat sitters. Cat parents, in return, become more calm and have good sensibility and tolerance, sending the Crazy Cat Lady remark to shame.

Perhaps we may rest in the fact that it all boils down to loving cats. Perhaps it’s just a “crazy little thing called love”, to quote another brilliant cat person in the name of Freddie Mercury. The myth will eventually run its course but love will always remain.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s December 2018 issue.