If you’re a middle-aged single woman who happens to own a cat (or even a few cats), you don’t have to be pigeonholed into the old “cat lady” adage. With an increasing number of women choosing to live an independent lifestyle, having a cat provides the same benefits of pet ownership but without the more dependent entanglements associated with having a dog or other high commitment companion animal. Although the “cat lady” stereotype prevails, you can still have a cat and not be a cat lady.
Typically a cat lady, while middle-aged and single, owns so many cats that is considered to be a case of animal hoarding. Cat ladies tend not to have enough property to safely care for numerous cats either, or they bundle the cats into one room or small area for all time. So, if you live on a farm or several acres of land, or have a large house and yard, you can definitely own several cats and not be thought of as a cat lady.
Cat ladies also tend to have no boundaries between human and animal interaction. Often a cat lady will refer to her cats as her “children” and make social and even financial decisions based on how it will impact her cats. However, this is a trait shared by many pet lovers, viewing their pets in the role of children and while it may cause some people to dismiss you, there will be many other pet lovers who support this attitude toward a pet. What probably matters most is how you demonstrate this affection for your cats when talking to other people.Do you currently model any cat lady behavior? Think about how you live your life––do you talk excessively about your cats and refer to them as your babies? Do you bring up the most tedious details about your cats when socializing or at work? Do you avoid social situations such as dating or having an evening with friends to be at home with the cats, fearing they'll be lonely or sad without you? Do you keep numerous photos of your cats on your desk at work, perhaps even a huge wall collage of them? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be treading dangerously close to cat lady territory. It's time to make changes before you go to the dark side!
Of course you love and adore your kitty; however, your cat sees you as his owner or companion and not as his mother. This is important to keep in mind because you will most likely outlive the animal. Thinking of the cat as anything more than just a pet not only puts you in cat lady territory, it can send you into a deep depression once the animal passes away.
Reduce the number of framed photos of your cat around your home or on your desk. It’s okay to maintain a small framed photo of your cat on your desk at work or on the entrance table at home, but having multiple framed photos screams “I’m a cat lady.”
Choose to be social over staying home with the kitty. The reason why having a cat is wonderful is that he doesn’t need to be walked or even taken to the bathroom. Cats are very content being on their own for long hours––capitalize on that fact and go out instead of staying home to cuddle up to your furry friend. He’ll understand if you ditch him for a hot date.
Your cat should have things to do while you're out, such as toys to play with. It's also a good idea to have two cats, so that they can amuse each other and not feel lonely.
If you've chosen a Siamese or similar breed that can't abide being left alone and attaches to a single human, you're probably going to find leaving him much harder. In this case, it is highly advisable to have another cat or to get a pet-sitter when you're out for long hours. This type of cat is best in a household where someone is always around, so if that's not your case, be sure to get him a pal.
Avoid talking about your cat when on a date or with friends. If your cat did something extremely funny or cute, by all means tell friends about it once, and only now and then. But, for example, if a friend is telling a story about what her baby did the other day, don’t butt in with a story about your cat. It will sound like you are comparing your cat to your friend’s baby––total cat lady behavior.
Stop at two cats. As hard as that may sound, anyone who owns more than two cats is surpassing the title of “pet owner” and entering into the “pet collector” zone. In some cases you may be able to get away with possibly three or four cats at most, if you live on a large property or if there are extenuating circumstances such as a rescue situation. Beyond this, you're creating a cat colony and all the hassles, smells, mess and whispered rumors that come with that.
Never dress your cats in clothing or costumes. Unless you want to be a cat lady, don’t buy, make or accept gifts of clothing to dress up your cat. Even on Halloween, resist the angel cat Halloween costume. The same goes for your wardrobe. Any cat t-shirts or sweaters need to hit the Goodwill pile ASAP.
The only exception to this is for health reasons directed by your vet, such as a blanket coat or an Elizabethan collar to stop scratching or biting. These are medical aids, not fashion accessories.
Spay or neuter your cats. Contribute to the solution and have your animals neutered when they are young. Part of the problem with a society overrun by domestic animals is that pet owners don’t spay or neuter their animals. And a cat lady often uses the excuse that cats deserve their fun and that removing their sexuality is cruel. Having too many unloved kittens around is cruel. Part of not being a cat lady is being a responsible pet owner.
Realize that some detractors may be jealous of the implications of your lifestyle––you're free to make your own choices, your cats aren't telling you how to behave or what to do all the time and you have non-judgmental companionship.