My name is Alison and I have two cats.
When I talk about my pets, I often times get a reserved chuckle mixed with a variation of the oh-so-condescending-but-trying-to-be-funny-so-it’s-okay: “You’re a crazy cat lady, aren’t you?” And that sentiment sort of weirds me out. Because 1. there’s no solid retort to that. Not really. You can’t be like, “Um no. I am not a crazy cat lady. I actually hate cats, I treat mine like garbage.” and 2. Dog owners don’t get that same resentment. I haven’t heard the phrase “Crazy Dog Lady” yet I know MULTIPLE people who would fit that description and 3. Why’s it got to be lady, bro? Where’s the term “crazy cat gentlemen” bra? That’s right, topple that cat patriarchy!
I tell people I’m not a cat lady, but a pet having person. And the only reason I don’t have a dog right now is because I live in a one bedroom apartment in North Hollywood that doesn’t allow dogs, and also ain’t nobody got time for dog shit and stuff. If anything, I’m admitting laziness in my animal owning choices.
That said, what’s so bad about liking cats? Why do I need to be defensive about it? Why do cats equal lameness? My two current kitties, Smalls and Story, are cool as hell. They’re fun and interesting and smart and self sufficient to a fault. They’re friendly and silly and best buddies and always, always look good in pictures. My boyfriend is also nuts about them, which makes him both sexy and cute at the same time.
Chicks dig animals lovers, FYI.
I totally understand people’s fear in a “cat home” though. The smell of kitty litter. The hair. The annoying decorations that say “It’s my cat’s house, I just live here.” And, I’ll tell you something, one huge caveat with becoming a cat owner last year had to do with all that. I refused to have a home that fit that description. Before even considering a pet, lots and lots of meticulous planning went into our decision. Our litter box is strategically hidden, we are on a strict “vacuum and dust twice a week, empty box twice a day” regimen, and I have friends who keep me in check (as in, I usually ask them right when they walk in “Does my place smell? Tell me. TELL ME.”) So, rest assured, my place is mine, and my cats live with me. I love hosting too much to let that be otherwise.
That said, I love my pets with all my heart. I love spending time with them. I love when they cuddle and when they want to play. I love their meows and even the times they annoy me I eventually find hilarious. There’s something very sincere about an animal’s love and love for an animal. I often think about Taylor Swift’s cats. They’ve probably shit in her closet. They’ve probably purred in her lap. They don’t know she’s famous. They have no fucking clue.
It’s an even playing field.
It should be noted that having pets is relatively new in my adulthood. We only got Smalls in 2016 and decided to get Story just this year when we discovered that Smalls was too excitable to not have a buddy while we were at work. I probably would be just fine without a cat. I never had the urge to fill some void with a pet. I think that’s important to acknowledge, because while I know pets are helpful and therapeutic for those who may be seeking companionship and comfort, I know that’s not why I got mine. I got cats because I thought it would be fun.
I don’t need Smalls and Story. I wanted them.
Now, this doesn’t make me better than those who get pets for therapeutic reasons. Far from it. If anything, I am poser. And if anything, I am not a crazy cat lady.
Or so I thought.
Because, yeah, while these last two years may have been the first time I have had cats as an adult, when I venture back, I realize my cat love has been with me for longer than I am probably willing to admit.
When I was six years old, I got Fred. I actually wrote a blog about him when he died. (https://inthesunwithalison.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/my-cat-fred/ ) Which should probably be my first crazy cat lady indicator. I wrote a blog about my dead cat. And that’s not even the weirdest thing about Fred after he passed.
I also have a framed painting of him in my house.
This is when I back pedal, back pedal, back pedal. First of all, it is not a giant painting. It’s standard fare. 8.5 by 11. And I did not commission it. Rather, it was a kind xmas gift given to me by my best friend John. He, of all people, knew that Fred was more than just my pet, he represented my childhood. I mean, I had him from age six to twenty five. That’s some real coming of age time right there. And I think John, who I’ve also had in my life from a very young age, knew that Fred’s passing was in a way the end of my youth. Also, John is an amazing artist so it’s not some shitty cat drawing, but one that is very pleasing to look at.
So yeah, my dead cat Fred is proudly displayed on my dining room wall. Deal with it. I am still not crazy.
Along with Fred, my family also had a cat named Tessie. Tessie was named after the character I played in a community theater production on Annie (NO, I WASN’T ANNIE, OKAY? I WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH, OKAY??). We got her, again, because of me. I talked my parents into getting a friend for Fred after our dog Lobo ran away, (an amazing story, btw, check it out here: https://inthesunwithalison.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/the-story-of-lobo/). Also she was stinking cute.
Fred was wise, Tessie was dumb. They were an amazing Ozzie and Harriet. I married them when I was ten. I wasn’t crazy, I was ten. Barbie and Precious Moment dolls watched. I hope my wedding is as beautiful someday.
But I digress. They died. It was sad. (Fred more than Tessie for me). I grew up, traveled, lived in many places, lived alone with my boyfriend for a few years before we broached the topic of getting a cat. And it was broached because Zach didn’t have pets growing up, and his face always lit up when we went to our pet owning friend’s homes. The main reason I wanted to get a pet was for him. I knew he would love it. And I love making Zach happy.
I’m not putting all of this on my boyfriend. I too love that we got cats, but I was also right. The bond between Smalls and Zach is ridiculous and amazing. In short, Smalls tolerates me, but once Zach is in the room, I am chopped fucking liver.
Smalls loves Zach more than I love Ben Affleck.
And in turn, it makes Zach very happy. Nailed it.
We’ve only had Story for a month or so, but already she’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s adorable and knows it. She cuddles whenever you need to get something done and when she knows you are sad. She springs into the air whenever there’s the slightest noise. I’d be lying if I said I hoped she loved me like Smalls loves Zach, but I also get the feeling Story has her own game plan with her human preferences. We’re just pawns in her adorable game of cat chess. Whatever, I’ll take it.
While all this feels new and exciting, if I were to really harken back to yester-years I would know that all the crazy cat lady signs are there. In kindergarten, I gave a presentation about cats because after I got Fred I felt like cats were the greatest animals in the world. When I look at old photos, I can’t help but notice the frequency in which I wore a light pink sweater with an embroidered kitty ballerina that my Aunt Hilda made me. (Then again, maybe it was just warm).
I had tons of cat shwag as a kid, which I typically chalked off the fact that when you are a child and you have one thing kids know about you (“Ali has a cat”) usually the theme of every birthday party becomes that thing, regardless on your actual varied tastes. Just ask my childhood friend Danielle Winslow. At one point she liked horses. And boy did that chick have a shit ton of My Little Ponys.
But cat birthday gifts does not a crazy cat lady make. I keep multiple lint rollers around the apartment and in my car. I feel totally fine when I leave them alone for a few hours. If we have a party, the cats go in the bedroom, no questions asked.
And I do all these things to show that I am not crazy. I am normal. I just happen to have cats.
(Sidenote: Just in case you ask, I also fucking hate the musical Cats. Hate it. Don’t even get me started. It’s the worst.)
The other day I got a package from my mother. She was obviously cleaning out a closet and came across a few old items of mine. She sent me an afghan I had as a kid. It was this giant afghan that my grandmother bought me. She bought both my brothers a similar afghan. They were pretty bold, ugly (sorry Grandma) and themed, based on things we were interested in at the time. I remember Mike had one that was all golf themed because he was getting into golf. Brian, I think, had a soccer one? Maybe? Mine, well, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. Mine was the theme of the feline variety. And right at the top, in big block letters, this afghan says:
I HEART CATS.
And when I opened that package, I screamed in excitement.
Because I absolutely HEART that afghan. Even after all these years, and after knowing how ugly that darn thing is, I do still, truly Heart Cats.
And only one type of person would scream in excitement for something like that.
I guess I am a crazy cat lady after all.
– One L
“The world’s largest cat, and the world’s smallest Lion.” – Zach, talking about Smalls, a large burnt orange Tabby.
“Crooked, Smudge, Chimney, Store.” – nicknames for Story, a torty.