Why I Dislike the Phrase, “Crazy Cat Lady”
A somewhat trendy phrase these days is “Crazy Cat Lady”. A few years back, a reputable cat manufacturer hired an advertising agency to help them promote their brand. They sent a “gift box” of items to cat bloggers and everything had “Crazy Cat Lady” on it. It made me mad, angry, really. As a result, I chose not to participate in the campaign. It was hard for me to even donate what they had sent me, as I preferred to destroy it. That’s how much I dislike the term. I was recently approached by an apparel company – they wanted me to introduce their brand to Floppycats readers. I visited their site and saw that they had a hat, “Crazy Cat Lady”. And it made me think that I should probably write this post. In college, I took a lot of racism and feminism courses as part of my studies – which helped me look at many things we overlook in our daily lives. The popularity of something like – “Crazy Cat Lady” – can become so widely used that we don’t even realize what we’re perpetuating when we say it or use it. So, why do I dislike it? Well, let’s break it down. Crazy, as defined by a quick Google search – has two definitions. cra·zy ˈkrāzē/ informal adjective 1.mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way. “Stella went crazy and assaulted a visitor” synonyms: mad, insane, out of one’s mind, deranged, demented, not in one’s right mind, crazed, lunatic, non compos mentis, unhinged, mad as a hatter, mad as a March hare; 2.extremely enthusiastic. “I’m crazy about Cindy” synonyms: passionate about, (very) keen on, enamored of, infatuated with, smitten with, devoted to; My guess is most people think of it as “extremely enthusiastic”. What I don’t like is the first definition possibility. After all, as the example in the second definition suggests – as an adjective, it needs to be followed by the preposition “about” in order for it to refer to the “extremely enthusiastic” definition. “Crazy About Cats Lady” would mean more of the #2 definition. When it is used as “Crazy Cat Lady” I interpret it as the #1 definition. I also dislike how it refers only to women, leaving out men who like cats or who are enthusiastic about cats. I also ALWAYS see this toy figurine in my head that came out years ago when I hear the phrase: The Urban dictionary defines “Crazy Cat Lady” as
- “An elderly suburban widow who lives alone and keeps dozens or more pet cats, usually many more than municipal code allows, in a small house, and refuses to give away or sell them even for the sake of the safety of the cats or herself.”
- “a woman, usually middle-aged or older, who lives alone with no husband or boyfriend, and fills the empty lonely void in her life with as many cats as she can collect in one place. Said homes are usually very stinky and the aformentioned woman may also very likely be white trash”
- “An woman that has an insane almost addictive love for cats.”
- “A woman who loves her cats more than people”
- “A women who has 5 or more cats that she constantly tells story’s about to random strangers.”
- “a elderly lady who has no relative visitors or husband, so to feel better has A lot of cats. she has so many that she and her house legit smell like litterbox. plus she sometimes uses her cat brush as a hairbrush so hair looks weird af”
- “That old lady that lives down the street from you that has over a dozen cats named after each of her exboyfriends that have done her wrong.”
Love it ! I was given a journal as a gift with that phrase, & I got mad & proceeded to write above the phrase Not just a… That phrase doesn’t take in the beauty, grace & sweetness a cat has & the love that I have for my guy & the love he has for me . But the last example of a crazy cat lady naming cats after exes ,made me think of the mystical side of cats & the association with witches. That perhaps the exes were turned into cats, made me laugh when I thought of that !
Yes, it really is a misogynistic term for sure!
Thank you. Your article is on point. I like the meme that says:
“Surely it is the ladies that DON’T like cats who are crazy”
Jenny,I have that action figure,my Sister got it for me for my Birthday I guess the term doesn’t bother me all that much because I’m slowly becoming crazy because I’ve worked over 33 years in a field that is so stressful and I have five kitties soooo….
as long as you’re cool with it is all that matters.
Jenny and plmcat, I totally agree! Anyone who doesn’t love cats has no place in my life. Animals have very good intuition about people. If my cats are scared of a person, I’m sure something’s not right with him (or her). My husband’s sweetest trait is spoiling our cats even more than I do! 🙂
i never really thought about it .. i have been called and always owned up to being the proverbial “crazy cat lady”. i always thought of it as, yes i LOVE cats!! i fit so many of the list there and i just have to laugh though since you pointed it out it does piss me off that it does seem to just be women and you know what? i bet it’s men that came up with this shit! a lot of them are so jealous that you love your cats more than them!! hahaha! i won’t even date a guy unless 1. he likes cats and 2. that my cats approve. i trust their judgement. and i have had guys say to me that i will end up alone with a bunch of cats and then i say “yessssss!!! and i’ll be happy!” i don’t really care what they call me where cats are concerned. i do like them better than most people, they are my children, sure they stink (so do dogs) and so do babies! it is annoying that the connotation is negative but i consider the source. and i say F*^K them!!!
omg, i was drinking water when i got your email and continued to drink (i tend to gulp water) and nearly spit it across the screen when i read, “i bet it’s men that came up with this shit!” ha ha ha. i wasn’t looking to bash men =). i do agree with you on who i date – if they don’t have respect for my cats, see ya. and if my cats are scared of them, see ya. i always knew a person was good or not from how rags was with them. my parents hired a painter when rags was in his senior years and rags hung out with that painter every day – so i started to hang out with him too!
haha! my cats don’t really see a lot of other people besides me and they run when someone comes to the door.. except…. so i was selling a phone on craigslist and this guy shows up and i see him walking up and the guy is HUGE!!! i opened the door and let him in (and i’m not unsafe. i have a security camera and my neighbors pay attention to everything so don’t freak). so anyway.. i figure my cats are long gone and i show him the phone and he is looking past me. and then he says “oh your cats are so pretty”. i turn around and all 3 of them are sitting there looking at him with these sweet, inquisitive faces!!! i couldn’t believe it! he did smell really good because he was a chef at an Italian restaurant. i really don’t think that is why they just sat there. later i was telling a girl at work about it and she knew the guy! she had worked at the restaurant with him and said he was a wonderful soul. my cats either felt that or they thought they were getting some yummy delivery!!
My mom actually bought me that “crazy cat lady action figure” several years ago for Christmas! Ugg.
no doubt with good intentions!
Dearest Jenny, I’ve never known you to be wrong! Thank you so much for years of smiles and wonderful discussions… I’m looking forward to many, many more! 🙂
oh yes, i am often wrong =) – but it’s always a great way to learn and keep an open mind. I, too, am looking forward to many, many more!
From your post and most of the comments I’ve read at this point, Jenny, I must have had “beer goggles” on to miss the negative inference. Maybe because I’m older than most FloppyCats fans, it sort of went right over my head. 🙂
Hi Beth, I think it’s always about awareness – and certainly, the definition is up for interpretation. I always want this website to be a place where we can all share our thoughts and opinions with an open mind, so we can learn from one another. I certainly never would claim that I am always right or certain about anything! Thanks for being here to participate and share!
My like-minded friends and I have happily called ourselves crazy cat ladies since we first heard the term. I hadn’t seen the Urban Dictionary definition which is dreadful, more suitable for hoarding situations. “Extremely enthusiastic” about cats? Of course I am. Do I prefer cats to humans? Cats have brought me more joy than people, so why wouldn’t I? Our house is clean and smells good. My cats live “in the lap of luxury,” enjoying the nicest food and veterinary care which they richly deserve. I’ve provided for them in my will so they can continue to have the best of everything after I’m gone. If all this makes me a crazy cat lady, I’m glad (and proud) to be one.
=) thanks for sharing your version of it, beth!
I 100% agree with you! I hate the term and have always found it super sexist. It a culturally approved way for men to demean women, to imply we are crazy (i.e. “hysterical”/ madwomen/independent women) and to imply we are lonely and pathetic if we don’t have a man in our lives. If women have a dog, men think she must be active and attractive since she has to take it on walks. If women have a cat, they think we are pathetic shut-ins who can’t find a man. Even when it’s used lightly as teasing, it’s still super sexist and demeaning.
We don’t have a saying about “crazy dog men”, because our culture doesn’t demean men and imply they are pathetic losers just because they are single and have a particular pet.
yes on sexist and demeaning – not a fan of it.
FANTASTIC post, Jenny! I totally AGREE with you about THAT TERM! I can guarantee you that IT was created by someone who is NOT a cat lover and is also NOT a woman (no offense to all the lovely male Floppycatters out there). I don’t like the term at all and never have. Just another way to pigeon hole many women who may simply just prefer the company of loving animals to that of other humans (who can be so cruel and hurtful with their words and actions).
Animals love unconditionally, don’t judge, don’t criticize and don’t try to change who you truly are. In my 56 years of living and dealing with human drama of all kinds and types, coming home to a sweet loving animal is the best reward ever (in my opinion). 🙂 <3
Here's to all the wonderful animal lovers out there in the world! Many blessings to all of you! If the people of the world could learn to be as accepting and loving as our lovely kittehs and doggies then THIS WORLD would definitely be a much better place to live. 🙂 <3
Okay. My rant is over.
Big hugs & lots of love!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3
Agree with Jenny 100% and everything you said so eloquently Patti! ❤
thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions, ms. patti!
I agree with you but in spite of that I have definitely used the term here in my comments and I apologize for that. Have you ever watched “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (it’s hilarious by the way!)? In the theme song they repeat “she’s the crazy ex-girlfriend” and the title character replies “no, I’m not / that’s a sexist term / it’s more nuanced than that”, etc… I thought it was a very clever way of addressing the pejorative. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzY3EaJTuJk If you want to laugh really, really hard search for “the sexy getting ready song”!!
i hadn’t seen the crazy ex-girlfriend thing …and yes, the same use of “crazy” there.
Hi Jenny..ive been following ur blog n videos for awhile now..n yes..this lable makes me . Before living in TX..i lived in Staten island,NY ..where u wud see a couple of stray cats if u walk down any block. No one on my block wanted to help or feed the kittens n cats except me n another nurse..so we tried our best for our little furry friends. Before i left Staten island we saved about 100 strays n kittens off the street. My family took in 3 n my Ex boyfriend’s mom took 2(Stella n Stanley). I fed n cleaned these cats n kittens cuz they deserved to have a happy life..Crazy?..I dont think so…no one deserves that title if u care enough to give an animal ur heart.
Good on you for saving so many kitties!
O-M-G, Christy! *BIG HUGS* I LURVE that show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! In my opinion is is THE BEST SHOW on TV right now! Hilarious! Lurve the musical parodies it does of all the different situations using melodies from all the difference musical decades. So happy to find someone else who enjoys it as much as I do! Can’t wait for the next season! I’ll be rewatching all the episodes until the new season premiers later in the year or next year!!!!
Big hugs & lots of love!!!
Patti 🙂 #CrazyExGirlfriendSistas!!!!