I used to joke about it all the time; my love life was so seriously tragic, that I was going to end up as some old crazy cat lady spinster with a hundred cats and a brown, plastic-covered sofa. Despite the joke, it was a concept I was terrified of. I don’t have the brown, plastic-covered sofa, but I have cared for hundreds of cats and now have seven of them, scratching up my furniture, breaking all my shit and covering literally everything I own in a thin layer of cat hair.
The stereotype is as old as time. The endless jokes are insufferable. My family regularly comment on it, and even joke about giving my cats away to random strangers (“My daughter has seven cats, I know it’s crazy, you can take a few if you like!”). But today is a joyous occasion for female feline fanatics everywhere. It’s official people: the crazy cat lady is dead!
The Origin of the Stereotype
Cats have long been synonomous with women. Travel back to the 1400’s, and both were persecuted severely for being associated with witchcraft. But previous to this, cats were worshipped as Gods and Goddesses. The Greek Goddess, Hecate was able to transform into a cat in order to escape the monster Typhon. The Polish God, Ovinik, appeared as a black cat to protect farmers, their land and crops, by watching over their animals and chasing away evil spirits and ghosts. In Norse mythology, Freyja, the Goddess of fertility, love, war and fortune, traveled in a chariot that was given to her by Thor and was pulled by two large, gray cats. And a little closer to home, the Celtic and pagan Goddess Ceridwen, a deity of rebirth and transformation, was served by white cats that followed her instructions on Earth.
The latter example was turned into a symbol of fear and hatred by the Catholic church, as they became more prominent and powerful in society. The relationship between woman and feline as being one of love, rebirth, and transformation became one associated with witchcraft, evil and devil worship. Women and their familiars were condemned, and so tortured and burned alive, with cats being recognised as being messengers of the devil.
Jump forward a few hundred years, and whilst still synonomous with women, the stereotype changed fairly dramatically, though still with negative connotations. How do you picture a crazy cat lady? Old, alone, practically living in a house-coat, wild hair, in a house that smells like cat pee and gross cat food? A woman so unlucky in love, that she has made herself even more undesirable and certain to die alone by hoarding hundreds of cats? It’s a stereotype that just won’t seem to die. Until today.
The Death of the Crazy Cat Lady
I had decided to write this post a long time ago, because I was really getting sick of all the jokes. People think they are SO terribly funny, when the reality is, they’re just terrible. I wanted to show how there was no such thing anymore, given the prominent male figures in the cat lover’s community (iAmMoshow rapping with his cat, Ravioli, and Cat Man Chris, owner of Cole & Marmalade to name a couple). I wanted to show that there are millions of female cat lovers in loving relationships with actual, real-life humans, and that owning a cat (or seven) did not automatically make you a failure in love or in life. I wanted to show that being a single, female cat lover did not make you a failure in love or life either! I wanted to show that loving cats shows nothing but a kind, caring, compassionate nature, which is someting this world is in desperate need of.
So when I started to research the idea of this ridiculous stereotype, I was overjoyed to find countless articles in the news, that show recent research has concluded that the crazy cat lady is “not a thing.”
The study was carried out at the University of California, Los Angeles and published by the Royal Society, and concludes that, “We found no evidence to support the ‘cat lady’ stereotype: cat owners did not differ from others on self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, or their experiences in close relationships. Our findings, therefore, do not fit with the notion of cat owners as more depressed, anxious and alone.”
So there we have it folks; us ladies can be safe in the knowledge that the crazy cat lady trope is not real. So the next time someone decides to joke about it, you can throw science in their face.