Sarah Donner’s Origins: The Making of a Cat Lady


Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t always a cat lady.

I grew up with a cat named Missy who wasn’t especially fond of people. She had that stereotypical aloof disposition that people who don’t like cats often point to as a reason to not like cats. I remember when she died though. I was 10 years old and hadn’t lost anyone dear to me. Missy curled herself in the back of my brother’s closet when her legs became too weak to stand on. I remember cuddling with her in the dark and singing her songs. OH MY GOD. THAT’S WHERE IT STARTED. Wow. My mother took her to the vet the next morning, and I never saw Missy again.

Simba was my first kitten. We adopted him from our local shelter when he was a few months old. He was a beautiful white and ginger tabby mix, and I loved him from the start. Over the course of a few months, Simba’s rambunctious nature evolved into aggression that manifested itself mostly on my six-year-old brother. Aaron would be playing with Legos on the living room rug, and Simba would pounce on his back and bite at his flailing arms. Being the maniacal older sister, I found it slightly entertaining. (I still cheer "Bite him in the face!" at my own cats when they play.)

Simba would hide behind the couch and attack our ankles if we walked past. His only act of endearment was a deranged kneading and suckling session in my mom’s lap. She would leave the room wistful and slightly annoyed with the crotch of her pants soaked in kitten drool. The last time Simba pounced on my brother, he bit through his earlobe. My brother was crying and bleeding, and mom didn’t hesitate to bring that cat back to the shelter.

I tearfully pleaded with her trying to convince her that Simba was far more important that Aaron. My resentment about that whole debacle faded long ago, but I still keep Simba’s Christmas tree cat ornament in my treasure box.

Simba was the last cat I had for a long, long time. After that, Teddy, a Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix, resided in the Donner house for 16 years. He was our dependable and sweet family dog. We loved him dearly, and he passed away just this year. Because of Teddy, I know my love is not solely for felines; it just happens that cats suit my busy lifestyle, and they reproduce at alarming rates in my parking lot.

The actual transition into a bonafide cat lady came in 2007 after I purchased Dunkin from a pet store. It was February, and I desperately needed a kitten to cure my winter blues. I didn’t realize how completely foolish it was to buy a cat until the spring when suddenly free and feral kittens were pouncing around my back yard. Since then, all my cats have come from a back yard or parking lot.

I began feeding the feral cats after I spotted a kitten dragging a bagel out the trash one cold winter day. Since then I’ve caught, domesticated, and found homes for over 80 kittens. I recently honed my trap, neuter, and releasing skills so the population is down, and I am able to foster kittens for other organizations. I have four permanent indoor cats who are relatively cordial to our little guests. I’ll introduce those critters next time. So there you have it folks – the groundwork that paved the way for me to become the wily pink haired creative cat lady type that I am.

Sarah Donner’s new Ask a Cat Lady videos run on Catster every Thursday. If you can’t wait that long, peep the archive.

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