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5 Formidable Women Who Defy the Crazy Cat Lady Stereotype

Author, seamstress, musician, ghost-hunter, athlete -- these women show that "cat lady" does not automatically mean "antisocial hoarder."

 |  Jun 11th 2013  |   10 Contributions


Stereotypes and labels have always bugged me. I think it's unfair to place someone inside a tiny box and say, "This is who you are." When we do that, we expect certain things of them, because labels come with assumptions. Last week on Catster, Keith Bower wrote about identifying as a "cat guy" or just "a guy with a cat." He was right on target when he conveyed that humans are far too complicated to pigeonhole into a limited classification. 

Cat ladies are often caught in that stereotypical trap. Based on the stories of cat hoarding on TV, bathrobe-clad action figures, and puffy-painted kitty sweatshirts on display at craft fairs, it's no surprise many people buy into the stereotype. The truth is, many of the cat ladies I know are vibrant, busy women with a myriad of interests ... some not cat-related in the least! Gasp! 

I won't say I NEVER look like this, but I usually don't. Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure at Archie McPhee

I've written a cat humor blog for four years and most of my freelance writing is kitty-centered. I find that people assume my only interests are cat-centric, and are genuinely surprised that I enjoy other hobbies and interests. In fact, I am a partner in a small production company. We write and perform in a comedy web series and are getting ready to shoot season two, which is a mockumentary. Last year, one of our sketches, Black Scrapbook, was featured on the home page of Funny or Die. And the whole sketch was cat-less! 

A screen grab of my creative partner Nicky and me during the Black Scrapbook sketch.

Here are five cat-loving ladies who excel at much more than cat cuddling. And some of them don't even mind the "cat lady" moniker.

1. Janiss, more than the woman behind Sparkle

Janiss and Sparkle, who's not used to second billing. Photo: Janiss Garza

Janiss Garza is an author, editor, photographer, blogger, and speaker who is owned by three cats, including Sparkle of the world-famous Sparkle the Designer Cat blog. Janiss thinks the whole cat lady stereotype is bogus and says she was crazy before she even had cats. 

"Poles," one of Janiss's favorite photographs. Photo: Janiss Garza

She wasn't passionate about cats until she was a teenager, but says her dad was a "serious hobbyist photographer all his life, so I grew up with it." After studying film, she cut her teeth in rock journalism as a photographer, but wound up writing about rock bands because the pay was better. She got back into photography in 2002 when she started Sparkle's blog.

In the last couple of years, she began taking photos of the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles, where she lives. She went on to create a photography blog called Eagle Rock Scenes

2. Katy, creativity for sale

Katy and her beast of a kitty, Gorilla. Photo: Katy Herman

Katy Herman is a mom and the director of an ice-skating program; she calls herself "creativity for sale." With her behemoth house panther Gorilla at her side, she's a mad woman at the sewing machine. Each fall, she creates unique and quirky mittens out of recycled wool sweaters. These mittens are wildly popular, and her little operation -- Kitten's Mittens -- makes a haul every craft fair season.

Each fall, everyone wants to get their mitts on a pair of these unique hand-warmers! Photo: Katy Herman

She learned to sew just five years ago, when she suddenly decided, "I want to make a quilt." And she did. Shortly after that, she went on to design and create the mittens, school play costumes, and horse showmanship rail shirts. Now this cat-lovin', figure-skatin' mama and her sewing machine are in demand!

3. Dusty, getting in the spirit

Dusty and her gorgeous Turkish Van. Photo: Dusty Rainbolt

Dusty Rainbolt spends most of her days writing, rescuing, and rehabilitating homeless cats and helping humans with cat behavior issues. You know what else she loves to do? Ghost hunting. Her fascination with the paranormal started when one of her favorite cats, Maynard, passed away while she was out of town. About a month later, she felt a small cat jump on the bed, walk across the mattress and rest on her feet, which was Maynard's favorite spot. She could see there was no cat, but was absolutely certain it was Maynard's presence. (Read More about Dusty's experience here.) A year later, she finally told her husband, and the two of them began ghost hunting as a hobby.

Here's a video of a ghostly voice Dusty captured on one ghost-hunting expedition:

Dusty enjoys writing all sorts of books, but she especially enjoys writing paranormal stories involving cats. After writing Ghost Cats: Human Encounters With Feline Spirits, she discovered she wasn't the only one who'd experienced paranormal feline episodes. 

And on being called a cat lady? "I'm proud to have helped all those kitties and people. If people think of me as a crazy cat lady, so be it. What have they done to help?"

4. Sarah, fostering music and cats

Music! Kittens! Sarah's in heaven. Photo: Sarah Donner

Sarah Donner is a wildly talented singer/songwriter/creative-type who also happens to foster kittens when she's not touring. She started playing the guitar in 2001 as a way to accompany her singing. 

Playing music makes Sarah hungry. Photo: Sarah Donner

Since then, she's created a name for herself by recording four CDs (a fifth is on the way), creating a viral YouTube video of Lady Peanut the foster kitten falling asleep to her music, and writing and performing a hilariously irreverent song to accompany an animated video from The Oatmeal. She was also the star of Ask a Cat Lady, a fun and informative musical feature right here on Catster! Oh, and she also wrote and performed the intro song for my web series. The girl is busy!

She's happy to help cats in need, and if people want to slap the label of "crazy cat lady" on her, she's A-OK with that.

5. Trish, hitting the ground running

Trish loves Amber's whiskered kisses. Photo: Trish Cross

Trish is a mom and self-professed cat wrangler who has a passion for running ... and not just after kids and cats. Last year, she canceled her gym membership and began running for exercise. She found that her time spend pounding the pavement and trails was more than just a way to stay active -- it was excellent mental and emotional therapy. It has become a major part of her lifestyle.

This girl's got some dedication. And the occasional leg cramp. Photo: Trish Cross

She not only runs daily, she even participates in races. She does, however, take part only in local races, so she doesn't have to leave her kitties, Amber and Jasper, overnight. 

Do you have passions, hobbies, or other interests that don't have anything to do with cats? Tell us about it in the comments!

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About the Author: Angie Bailey is a weird girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Wrote a ridiculous humor book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.

Read more by Angie Bailey: 

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