Usage and association
At least in the Anglosphere, single women who own 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 who can't find a man".
Cat Ladies documentary
The 2009 documentary Cat Ladies tells the stories of four women whose lives have become dedicated to their cats. The film was directed by Christie Callan-Jones and produced by Chocolate Box Entertainment, originally for TVOntario. It was an official selection at the 2009 Hot Docs Festival, Silverdocs Festival, and San Francisco's DocFest.
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.
It has been suggested that cat-hoarding behavior may be due to infection with Toxoplasmosis gondii, a mind-altering parasite of which both cats and humans—among other animals—are hosts. Rats infected with T. gondii have been demonstrated in controlled experiments to seek out the presence of cats, thus to be eaten and resulting in transferral of the parasite to the cat host. It is entirely plausible, therefore, that individuals infected with T. gondii may be influenced by the parasite into hoarding more infective vectors (cats). It has even been suggested that certain sociopathic behaviors may be caused or at least influenced by this organism.
In popular culture
Cat ladies in popular culture include:
- Selina Kyle (Catwoman)
- Erin Cardillo's character of Emma Tutweiller in The Suite Life on Deck has 30 cats in her cabin.
- In "Cats in the Cradle", an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, a cat lady is revealed to have been murdered by a young girl, after the girl and her sister wanted a cat she possessed, which the lady was unwilling to part with as she considered it one of her children.
- Crazy Cat Lady, a recurring character whose real name is Eleanor Abernathy on The Simpsons.
- Angela Martin, a character on The Office (US).
- Susan Ashworth, the character from the indie horror game "The Cat Lady", is a depressed 40-year-old woman, recovering from a suicide attempt, and her only companions in life are a bunch of cats.
Famous cat ladies and their cats
- Florence Nightingale had many cats named after famous public figures such as Gladstone and Bismarck.
- Edith "Big Edie" Ewing Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale had many cats living with them in their decrepit home Grey Gardens. Reportedly, some 30 cats lived in the house by the time Little Edie sold it in 1979.
- Kiri Blakeley (15 Oct 2009), "Crazy Cat Ladies", Forbes
- Mark Ramirez (5 Aug 2009), "Do you believe in the Crazy Cat Lady?", timesunion.com
- Davis, Susan; Flaherty (illus), Jake (2002), "Prosecuting Animal Hoarders is like Herding Cats", California Lawyer (September): 26, 28, 29, 67, retrieved June 26, 2011
- Cat Ladies - When cats mean "meow" to you than people
- Cat Ladies at the Internet Movie Database
- Huso, Deborah (November 2009). "Some Live Among Hundreds of Cats". AOL Health. Retrieved November 2009.[dead link]
- Celebrity cat lovers
- Sally Quinn on life in Grey Gardens, W magazine, April 8, 2009