Cat Lady

Eleanor Abernathy

cat lady is a cultural archetype or a stock character, often depicted as a woman, a middle-aged or elderly spinster, who owns many pet cats. The term can be considered pejorative, though it is sometimes embraced.

A cat lady may also be an animal hoarder who keeps large numbers of cats without having the ability to properly house or care for them. They may be ignorant about their situation, or generally unaware of their situation. People who are aware of it are not normally considered cat ladies.

Women who have cats have long been associated with the concept of spinsterhood. In more recent decades, the concept of a cat lady has been associated with ‘romance-challenged (often career-oriented) women.’ Specifically, it has also been embraced by lesbian and queer women.

Some writers, celebrities, and artists have challenged the gender-based ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ stereotype, and embraced the term to mean an animal lover or rescuer who cares for one or multiple cats, and who is psychologically healthy.

Naftali Berrill, Ph.D., Director of the New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science told ‘AOL Health,’ ‘These may be people who have a very hard time expressing themselves to other people. They may find the human need for affection is met most easily through a relationship with a pet.’ This devotion can sometimes signal mental or emotional issues such as depression.

Recent research indicates a link between the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which sexually reproduces exclusively in cats, and numerous psychiatric conditions, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia. The compulsive hoarding of cats, a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), has long been associated with crazy cat ladies.’

In ‘The Simpsons,’ the ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is a recurring character whose real name is Eleanor Abernathy.

CatCon, ‘The convention with cattitude,’ hosted seminars featuring actor Ian Somerhalder and actress Mayim Bialik, meet and greets with celebrity cats Lil BUB and Nala, and an adoption village where visitors can meet and adopt a cat or kitten. CatCon’s mission is to ‘Debunk the Cat Lady Myth by changing the negative perception of the ‘crazy cat lady’ and proving that it is possible to be hip, stylish, and have a cat, simultaneously.’

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