For years, the phrase ‘crazy cat lady’ has become derisive and is used to describe estranged women who enjoy the company of cats more than fellow beings. The phrase also portrays women with cats as sad, lonely and eccentric.
Even now, our culture is ambivalent regarding cats, with fifty percent of the population loving them, and the rest being apprehensive of them. So for the fraction who dislike cats, it’s reassuring for them to have an imaginary crazy person who has ‘gone over to the other side’ with these strange animals. People love to mock such characters which is a shame.
Recently the 10th Annual Lehigh Valley Cat Club show was successfully conducted at Pennsylvania. About 100 cat owners from all over the country and Canada competed with an equal number of cats over three days. Many felines including the Sphynx Cat, Abyssinians, Bengal Cat, Himalayans, Persian Cats, Japanese bobtails and Siamese Cats, were represented at the show.
Bit by bit some people are disregarding the cat myth and believe that it is time for us to retire from mocking the old cat lady for good. Because like the sophisticated feline itself, the new Catwoman is independent and cheeky. She efficiently uses modern technology, shares pictures of her purrfect fur ball on various social media handles, captions the image with witty cat puns that show her feline’s cattitude and unabashed pawsomeness.
Our celebrity ailurophiles (cat lovers) are today’s new and improved version of the sad cat lady. They are taking to social media to display their feline love all the time. The pop star Taylor Swift often shares pictures on Instagram with her two Scottish fold felines, Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey and one ragdoll, called Benjamin Button. Other celebrities like Lea Michele shared photos of her kitty Sheila on Instagram with #ilovehersomuch. Katy Perry has a rescue cat named Kitty Purry who is enjoying her kitty castle. Similarly, Fashion icon Gigi Hadid rescued her kitten Cleo- now Cleo has her personal Instagram account with over 10K followers.
Here is the short version of how the stereotype originated. Ages ago in some cultures cat were worshipped. In ancient Egypt, the Cat Goddess, Bastet, was half feline-half women goddess revered by the population. In Norse mythology, Freyja was a goddess of beauty and strength who rode on a chariot led by two cats. In Chinese mythology, Li Shou was worshipped for pest control and fertility.
These representations of cats and goddesses were passed down through folklore and paganism, however as the Catholic Church rose to power, mythology and goddesses adhered to it were condemned. The Church transformed the once glorified cats to evil symbolised as the devil. The Church believed that cats were used by the devil to communicate with witches and recruit young maidens into witchcraft.
Now fast forward 400 years, and we noticed that this stereotype continued to show its presence in the 20th century. A film example worthy of note is Alex DeLarge’s murder of a paranoid, hoarder cat woman in 1971’s A Clockwork Orange. Similarly, there is Eleanor Abernathy of The Simpsons who experiences burnout after a promising career in medicine and law, starts drinking and gets a cat. Next minute, she was talking gibberish, looking dishevelled and threw her army of felines around.
However, we are observing a change in the way people view cat parents in the 21st century. Many people who work with animals are altering their outlook on the crazy cat lady myth and the media.