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Monday September 15th 2014

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Cat Lady Confidential

Modern Day Cat Lovers Embrace Their ‘Crazy’
By Hana Frenette

Until I start bathing myself in my own spit and hissing at the neighbors, I will proudly declare my sanity, as well as my overt love for cats.

The stereotype of the “crazy cat lady” has been growing and changing in the past few years and is developing into something that seems to be a little more on the positive side—at least part of the time.

Wikipedia has its own entry for “cat lady,” and describes the title as a single woman who dotes upon her cat, is usually romance “challenged,” or too career oriented and “cannot find a man.”

Movies have been making use of the cat lady stereotype for years. Either the said lady is the star of the movie, soon to be rescued from scooping her kitty litter by prince charming, or is the cynical friend warning the star against love and retiring home to a plethora of feline friends.

I believe the crazy cat lady stereotype to be a manifestation of society’s fear of dying alone, with nothing but an old tabby in your lap while you rock back and forth in a chair. People who even mildly represent this or the possibility of the evolution to this are to be made fun of and kept at a distance, so as not to infect the minds or the lint rollers of those around them. That being said, I usually go home after work and sit in my favorite chair with my two baby cats. The chair isn’t a rocker though, so I think I’m in the clear.

Some people just don’t like that cats don’t need them, and therefore have a disconnect with the people that prefer that kind of pet ownership.  Some people want a pet that howls when you leave and then slobbers all over you when you get home. Which is fine, if you’re into clingy.

So what makes a cat lady? One cat, two cats? Nine cats?

“I think saying the words ‘cat lady’ is like saying the word feminist or homosexual,” AshleyAnne Palmer said. “How can you just define one type of person or animal lover and give them all these distinct qualities?”

Palmer owns two cats too and is often hassled, jokingly, by friends for being a cat lady. Of course, these days it’s easier than ever to acquire the label, what with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter allowing the perfect opportunity for users to share a plethora of adorable pictures of their cats.

“I only take pictures of them when they do cute things!” Palmer said.  And I’m sure they only do cute things every hour, so it’s ok.

I think the status of a cat lady rides on the ratio of time spent on human relationships, versus time spent with cats. Equal amounts of time are acceptable. Until your Friday night revolves around trapping neighborhood strays, the title should remain inapplicable.

Even famous people are becoming feline obsessed lately. Taylor Swift updates her Instagram regularly with pictures of her Scottish Fold cat, Meredith, eating, napping, or posing. Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director, was cat-sitting Choupette, a lovely white Himalayan kitten for a model friend and when she returned, he simply refused to give her back. Lagerfeld has grown so attached, he has hired two maids for her, one for day and one for night, and they both must write down everything the kitten does. They currently have 600 pages and Choupette is less than nine months old.

So what this means is that cat crazy never looked so fabulous, or was so openly acceptable. Suddenly it’s ok to embrace the love you have for your cats. Photograph them. Talk to them. Hire maids for them.

In ancient Egypt, cats were considered to be as important as their owners and were often entombed alongside them—even with mummified mice for them to chase in the afterlife. Cleopatra reportedly had over 14 cats; her favorite was named Tivali. Cleopatra has long been thought of as a sex symbol, and recently it turns out, a cat lady.

It’s time again to merge those stereotypes and let women—and men—bask in their love for cats, and live proud and without being scrutinized for their devotion.

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