Cat lady

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A cat lady is a single woman, often a stock character, who owns many pet cats. The term is usually considered pejorative,[1] though it is sometimes embraced.[2]

Usage and association[edit]

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".[1]

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.[3] They may be ignorant about their situation.

Cat Ladies documentary[edit]

The documentary Cat Ladies (2009) 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.[4][5]

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.[6]

Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome[edit]

Recent research indicates a link between the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which sexually reproduces exclusively in cats, and numerous psychiatric conditions, including OCD.[7] The compulsive hoarding of cats, a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), has long been associated with "crazy cat ladies".[8] Mass media has drawn on this stereotype to coin the term Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome to refer to the association between T. gondii and psychiatric conditions.[7]

Famous cat ladies and their cats[edit]

  • Bertha Rand was Winnipeg's notorious Cat Lady, who for years battled her neighbours and city hall to save her dozens of cats. Even years after her death, she still holds a place in Canadian popular culture. Maureen Hunter's play The Queen of Queen Street is based on Rand's life.[11]
  • Susan Ashworth in The Cat Lady computer game, who battled with depression and owned many cats.

In popular culture[edit]

Cat ladies in popular culture include:



  • In a key scene in the A Clockwork Orange (1971), the violent sociopath Alex DeLarge murders a paranoid cat lady, for which he is convicted and sentenced to a prison term during which he undergoes behavioral training to become a vastly different person.
  • In The LEGO Movie (2014), Mrs. Scratchen-Post is a cat lady minifigure who is one of Emmet Brickowski's neighbors.



  • The Cat Lady (2012) is a psychological horror graphic adventure game developed by Remigiusz Michalski.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kiri Blakeley (15 Oct 2009), "Crazy Cat Ladies", Forbes 
  2. ^ Mark Ramirez (5 Aug 2009), "Do you believe in the Crazy Cat Lady?", 
  3. ^ Davis, Susan; Flaherty (illus), Jake (2002), "Prosecuting Animal Hoarders is like Herding Cats" (PDF), California Lawyer (September): 26, 28, 29, 67, retrieved June 26, 2011 
  4. ^ Jeannette Loakman. "Cat Ladies - the Documentary". Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  5. ^ Cat Ladies at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Huso, Deborah (November 2009). "Some Live Among Hundreds of Cats". AOL Health. Retrieved November 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b "How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy - Kathleen McAuliffe". The Atlantic. 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  8. ^ D.J. Moran and Jennifer L. Patterson (2011-06-16). "When More Isn't Enough". Psychology Today. 
  9. ^ Celebrity cat lovers
  10. ^ Sally Quinn on life in Grey Gardens, W magazine, April 8, 2009
  11. ^ "Signature Editions". Retrieved 25 February 2015.