The term cat lady tends to evoke a negative image. I always wonder what exactly is so bad about a single woman who lives with a bunch of cats and why this idea bothers people so much. Many things that bother me (poverty, global warming, homelessness) and exactly zero of them involve a person living with a multitude of felines.
This might be for the simple fact that I’ve become one of them. Quite frankly, I take pride in assuming my status as a Quirky Cat Lady. In fact, Seattle comes in second only to Portland for the number of cat ladies living in the city.
Most of my life I lived without cats. I grew up in public housing where we were not allowed to have pets. Once, when I was about nine years old, I sneaked a tuxedo kitten named Socks home, but the neighbors ratted us out to the management, so Socks had to go live with my grandma. Socks probably had much more fun in his new home, but having to give him up was a signifying moment that tells a poor kid she doesn’t get to make the same choices in life as others.
As a young adult I was busy learning how to be a single mom with dreams of escaping poverty. I moved a lot, always trying to get to a better apartment, in a better neighborhood in proximity to decent schools for my child and myself. For a time I lived with a roommate who had two tabby cats, and I confess I wasn’t overly fond of them. This was probably because I was preoccupied with caring for my infant, who needed to be nursed and cuddled and watched every minute. I don’t think I had the space to care for more than my baby and myself.
So it came as a surprise to me and those who’d known me a while that I would suddenly become a crazy cat lady. It would not have been forecast in my earliest years, unless you count the enormous affection I had for my stuffed animals — whom I believed to be real living beings that woke up to play at night with all the other stuffed animals in Corvallis, Oregon, while all of us children slept.
I adopted my first cat three years ago, after a dream, and my passion for cats has only grown since then. My later-in-life feline affection could probably be compared to the enthusiasm of someone who finds religion. My cats’ unique traits and behaviors charm me every single day. My favorite moments in life are being snuggled up in bed with one or more cats and a book or my laptop.
Living with multiple cats has shown me that each and every one has a unique personality and that life with felines is never dull. Here are some of the common problems — er, “problems” — that I face in life with my beloved cats.
1. Cats like to use my face as a couch
Ezio is the cat who likes to sit on my face the most. If I am snuggled up in bed, reading, napping, or writing, Ezio perches his bum right on my face. I find this to be quite awkward, but he does it so often that it must be enjoyable for him.
2. Cats help me write
I never would have guessed cats would be so intrigued by a keyboard or flashing cursor. A number of my cats enjoy competing for my attention with my laptop or trying to write their own version of a story with their paws.
3. Cats help me with household chores
Nimbus is the cat most intrigued by the washer and dryer. He will pounce on the washer as soon as I turn it on. And the dryer appears to be the most comfy of cat burrows — but I can’t let him hide there as much as he wants to. Luther likes to help wash dishes. And Ezio likes to help put the dishes away.
4. Cats visit me in the bathtub
A number of my cats are curious about tub water, but Ezio will climb into the bath and sit on me while I am bathing if I let him into the bathroom.
5. I’m late for work because I’m “catted in”
I bet every cat lover struggles with this problem. You’re getting ready for work and sit down for a minute to finish a cup of coffee. All of a sudden, your kitty jumps onto your lap and settles down into a most comfortable position. You feel honored that you cat has blessed you with his or her warm affection. Then you glance at the clock and realize you’ll be late for work if you don’t get up immediately. But … it’s sooo hard to do because you’re both sooo comfortable. Yep. You’re catted in.
Honestly, I love living with cats. Since welcoming them into my life I feel more loved and loving than ever before. They’ve filled an emptiness that haunted me throughout my younger years. I don’t know if I’d have felt more centered if I’d grown up with cats, or if it was just meant to be a midlife blessing. But I do know that modern cat lady problems are kind of fun and make life a little more interesting. And for that I am thankful.
What are the “problems” you face being a cat lady (or cat guy)? Let me know in the comments.
About Kezia Willingham: Also known as the Breadwinning Laundry Queen, Kezia lives with her kids, cats, and dogs, in Seattle. A former high school dropout, Kezia has a master’s degree in social work and a bachelor’s degree in human development. She works for Head Start by day and writes for Catster and Dogster on the weekends. Kezia is a member of the Cat Writers Association. You can follow her on Twitter.