Are cat ladies lonely spinsters? That’s the stereotype that performance artist Kristina Wong explores in her most recent theatrical show, Cat Lady. The play has been performed in cities throughout the country and recently completed a three-week run in Miami.
Rest assured, Wong isn’t milking the stereotype for laughs. She’s a lifelong cat lover and was inspired by her own dating experience to create Cat Lady. Of course, it helps that she had a furry four-legged muse — her late cat, Oliver.
Cat Lady explores loneliness and the search for meaningful connections. In the show, Wong plays herself. She’s looking for love, but when she’s on tour performing, it’s a lonely existence. To make matters worse, when she comes home, her cat, Oliver, sprays all over the place to express his displeasure about being abandoned.
The show also draws a parallel between solitary cat ladies and smarmy, fast-talking, male pick-up artists playing the dating field. Yup, it’s complicated, but dating’s never simple, is it?
At first glance, it would seem that cat ladies and pick-up artists have little in common, but it turns out that Oliver was the uniting factor. Wong explains, "Oliver was very much the original pick-up artist." Even though Oliver belonged to someone else in Wong’s building, he went out of his way to woo her by leaving her dead birds and mice.
Says Wong, "He was one of those cats that would run into my house when I opened the door and I’d have to chase out when I left. And if I didn’t let him in, he’d sleep in the doorstep and meow until I let him in. He really was doing the stuff of loyal boyfriends."
After her neighbors moved away, Wong asked to keep Oliver, and a loving relationship ensued.
In her real life, Wong embraces being a cat lady, and even found that Oliver was at times an asset in her dating life. Wong says, "Men (and women) thought Oliver was cute. There were a few guys who thought that I should put Oliver down because he was spraying so much, especially because it was driving me crazy. And Oliver did pee on one guy’s shirt. But sometimes he’d be the wingman. I’d bring dates up and we’d have Oliver to coo over before awkwardly making out."
Unfortunately, Oliver passed away in February of 2011, but he did live long enough to see Cat Lady come to life as a live performance and subsequently spray all over the home when Wong went on tour to perform the show.
Sadly, there won’t be any new kitties in the foreseeable future for Wong. She says, "After Oliver died, I contemplated getting a new cat, but I travel so much. I’ve pretty much been out of L.A. for the last six months. If I want to take on a pet again, I feel like I want to know that I’ll be around for a long time to really get to know this kitty."
There also won’t be any new cat-inspired shows from Wong, so we’ll have to catch Cat Lady for our comedic cat fix. She says, "The only cat I have now is Oliver the Ghost Cat, and after spending four years to put him into life, I don’t think I’ll be doing any shows about cats for a good long while. One show is enough."
Wong is, however, passionate about continuing to turn the cat-lady stereotype on its head. In her words, "Cat Lady isn’t just about a bad stereotype of women who love cats, but really is about how there is a little cat lady in all of us, a part of us that wants something to hold and love you unconditionally."
To find out whether Cat Lady is coming to a venue near you, visit Wong’s website.