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For the Love of the ‘Crazy Cat Lady’

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It’s 2023, and we’ve seen the English language change in many ways to become more inclusive. But certain terms have stuck it out. One such term is refusing to die despite its rather sexist and ableist connotations, and that is “crazy cat lady”. It’s probably the most enduring of all cat stereotypes.

Whether we use it as a tongue-in-cheek reference to a cat parent we know, or even for ourselves, being called a crazy cat lady is at least seen as a light jibe and not a serious offense. Regardless, being cat lovers here at PD, we think it’s only right to poke some holes in the term.

Because in our opinion being a crazy cat lady is aspirational. Below we look at what it means, how the term persists, and why being crazy for cats is awesome.

Cheerful woman raises a Bengal cat. the crazy cat lady stereotype endures in 2023

The crazy cat lady in 2023

First of all, what is a crazy cat lady? It’s usually used to describe an unmarried, lonely and eccentric woman who hoards cats – presumably as a substitute for a husband and children.

Online publication KQED writes: “There are plenty of words with derogatory overtones to describe single women, but the stereotype of the cat lady is one that has persisted in culture almost as long as culture’s been recorded.”

It’s unclear when the first woman was dubbed a crazy cat lady. What we do know is that cats (and women) have been maligned since time immemorial.

Witches were typically depicted having a cat as a ‘familiar’ – a small animal that helps them in their cunning magic. In pop culture, we’ve seen the crazy cat lady portrayed in shows like The Simpsons and The Office (Angela was obsessed with cats).

Just a well-adjusted cat person?

Like just about all stereotypes, the ‘crazy cat lady’ trope isn’t grounded in much fact.

For one, the split between men and women who own cats isn’t that large. In Australia, 32% of women pet owners have cats vs 27% of male pet owners with cats . In fact, among millennials in the UK men own more cats than women (48% of men owned cats vs 35% of women). So instead of ‘cat lady’, maybe it should just be ‘cat person’. Or let’s just get rid of this stickiest of cat stereotypes altogether, yes?

And then there’s this study, which aimed to see whether there’s a correlation between cat ownership and mental health. Researchers “found no evidence to support the ‘cat lady’ stereotype.” They also reported that “cat-owners did not differ from others on self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety or their experiences in close relationships.” 

Furthermore, plenty of other research has found pets are amazing for mental health, so cat people may actually be less ‘crazy’. We petition to change the term to ‘well-adjusted cat person.’ Not as quirky a phrase, but more appropriate 😉 

a woman with curlers holding a cat. the crazy cat lady stereotype endures in 2023

Crazy cat ladies – unite!

Considering the above, we think it’s only right for us to take back the term. Being a ‘crazy cat lady’ (or well-adjusted cat person – whatever you prefer) is actually AMAZING.

In celebration, we’ve come up with three reasons why you should wear the badge proudly. Or throw it off completely if that works!

1. Cats are amazing

We feel like we hardly need to convince you, but cats are a perfectly understandable thing to be ‘crazy’ about. Consider these amazing cat facts and our listicle of the cutest cat breeds on the planet. Owning a cat also has many physical benefits and children growing up with pets experience many pros, too.

Ask any cat parent just why they love their cat so much, and you’re sure to get many answers. So, in terms of being picked on because of the animal you parent, a cat is a pretty good one in our opinion.

a female cat that is spayed is called a Molly
2. You’re part of a growing crowd

The women referred to in the term ‘crazy cat lady’ are usually unmarried and don’t have children. This has historically been seen as undesirable. But the truth is, more and more women are choosing not to marry and/or have kids.

In fact, 89% of the world’s population lives in a country with falling marriage rates. As IF Studies writes: “Almost universal data now shows that in most parts of the world, marriage rates are decreasing and the proportion of the population who has ever married is shrinking.”

Millennials are also choosing to go child-free and birth rates the world over have fallen. It seems that women are placing more value on friendships, careers, AND CATS, and less on getting married and having kids.

Relaxed smiling woman playing with her fluffy cat. the crazy cat lady stereotype endures in 2023
3. These powerful women owned cats

Now, if we’re going to go purely on carefully cherry-picked examples of amazing women who happen to own cats (who says we can’t?!) then this last fact will be most convincing.

Some of the most influential women in the world also happen to be ‘crazy cat ladies’. The Brontë Sisters, among literature’s greatest writers, all loved cats. Anne and Charlotte Brontë often featured cats in their writing. Emily Brontë wrote a French essay called “Le Chat” (The Cat). In it, she defends them against cat stereotypes that they’re selfish and cruel. She says cats have a similar temperament to humans and argues their self-reliance is preferable to human hypocrisy. The essay is well worth reading, especially for cat lovers.

Taylor Swift, considered the biggest pop star in the world and recently awarded a doctorate in music by the University of New York, is a self-confessed crazy cat lady. The singer songwriter takes her three cats just about everywhere she goes and they sometimes star in her videos.

Other amazing women who owned cats include Florence Nightingale, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott. Check out this list of eight of history’s greatest cat ladies for more.

Have all these cat facts inspired you to adopt? Check you’re ready to adopt a cat and perhaps even look into adopting an adult cat.

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Insure your cat kid

The love between a pet and their pet parent is so special. And whether you identify as a ‘crazy cat lady’ or not, you’ll want the peace of mind knowing you can cover them financially in case of an accident or illness. Cat insurance is inexpensive and can help pay all sorts of health costs. Even PD’s most basic plans cover tests and treatments for accidents, medication and hospital stays. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This is why having fast, efficient and easy-to-understand online pet insurance at your fingertips is a great idea. Click below to get a quote.

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