The Cat Lady
The stereotypical cat lady is an elderly spinster who is mad as box of frogs. They live alone, save for their many cats, and are constantly expanding their feline family. Shunned by society and often scorned, your typical cat lady is, frankly, a sandwich short of the proverbial picnic. So you can imagine my horror when my neighbours decided to grace me with this most unfortunate of monikers.
Many years ago I was living in a relatively small house on a small estate in Hampshire. I was the proud owner of four cats – a ginger tom, a Himalayan and two black shorthairs. I didn’t think that I had gone overboard on the cat front and I didn’t consider myself to be particularly odd.
Then one of my neighbours paid me a visit to inform me that they had separated from their partner and were moving on but were unable to take their cats with them. They asked whether I would be able to adopt the three moggies and muttered something about me being the cat lady. They then hit me with the worst example of emotional blackmail that I have ever experienced by suggesting that they would abandon the cats if I couldn’t help.
An Expanding Cat Family
I could see that a refusal to help would be about as useful as a chocolate teapot and so I stalked over to the neighbour’s house and collected the felines. I had no intention of keeping them and planned to find them new homes at the earliest opportunity. Nonetheless, at least in the short term, I was now sharing my home with seven cats. I still didn’t get the cat lady thing though. After all, I was only 25 at the time!
I eventually managed to rehome all three of my temporary residents. Life returned to normal, and I stress the normal, until another neighbour acquired a little ginger kitten. The adorable Freddie was adventuring outside one day when I noticed that he had what appeared to be burn marks on his body. I wasn’t a great fan of some of the people who visited this house and suspected that the kitten was being subjected to appalling cruelty.
I was full of righteous indignation and confronted Freddie’s owner. She admitted that some of her friends were behaving badly and promised not to allow them back into the house. I was still very concerned about Freddie. A couple of days later there was a knock on my door and there was my neighbour standing on my doorstep with Freddie in her arms. She started her appeal with “as you are the local cat lady”. I raised my eyes to the heavens as she asked me to take Freddie in and then took hold of the kitten and shut the door in her face.
I then moved house. I had to escape those people and my growing reputation! I love cats and have always shared my life with them. But just a few of them at a time. I am not a cat lady, I am merely a lady who like cats.