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What Is a Cat Lady? The Surprising Answer & When It’s a Problem

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

young woman working at home sitting on the couch with her cat

What Is a Cat Lady? The Surprising Answer & When It’s a Problem

We have heard the term “cat lady” more times than we can count. It seems awesome that someone often touts the phrase to describe anyone and everyone who loves and takes very good care of their cats.

At one time, the meaning was quite different and much more stereotypical. Today, it’s much more loosely based, and we will get a full understanding of how it’s been transformed over the years.

Let’s learn more about what being a cat lady meant in the past as well as what it means today, and what the cat lady personality is so that you can know if you are one.

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What Is a Classic Cat Lady?

We’ve all heard the coined phrase “cat lady,” and even cat ladies have used it a time or two to describe another, even bigger, cat lady! Classically, a cat lady was an older woman who lived by herself with an uncountable number of cats.

In fact, word for word, these cats generally come and go inside to outside. The woman gets a reputation as being a little bit of a crazy person, tucked away as a hermit no matter if she’s dwelling in the city or the country.

Most of the time a cat lady fits the bill of somebody who has been widowed or is a spinster, never having married before. This woman tends to be a shut-in, leading a mysterious life no one can really pinpoint.

“Crazy” Is Often Attached

In typical cat lady stereotypes, the term “crazy” is often paired with the phrase “cat lady.” Since these women are often loners, a lot of speculation can occur, leaving room for rumors and projections.

Lack of socialization can also cause what social people would consider as odd or peculiar behavior.

Big old cat sitting on elderly woman's lap
Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

Cat Lady Meaning Today

These days, being a cat lady is more widely accepted and these people aren’t typically seen as mysterious hermits. Some of them may still be seen as “crazy,” but it’s the good kind of crazy. The bottom line is that being a cat lady today is no longer seen as a bad thing, and many people are embracing this label as something to be proud of, and you can really find a great social circle of other “cat ladies” to bond and discuss cats with.

If you think you might be a cat lady, revel in it. It’s really not a bad thing!

Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

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You Might Be a Cat Lady If…

Are you wondering about the cat lady personality and whether you fit the bill? Consider this a way to self-diagnose.

Here are some signs you might, in fact, be a cat lady.

You Have More Than One Cat

Having one cat? That’s normal, and some would consider it totally standard and even expected. But any more than one cat? You might see some people questioning whether or not you’re secretly a cat lady.

Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

You Advocate for Homeless Cats

There are an estimated 60 to 100 million stray and feral cats in the United States alone. These numbers are astronomical. People also surrender their cats every year, totaling roughly 3.4 million orphaned cats annually that find their way into animal shelters.1

As a cat lover, there’s many ways to get involved, such as spreading the word on social media, donating to rescues and shelters, volunteering through different programs, and so on.

But if you’re out there spreading the word on social media, you might be labeled a cat lady by your friends and family!

You Feed a Colony of Homeless Cats

We saw you over there creeping to the cat food section, picking out a modestly priced recipe, and scanning it trying to pretend this batch is for your single Persian at home. But we know what you’re up to!

You’re about to take it out back to the strip mall and feed the 20-plus homeless cats you take care of on a regular basis. If you do this, you very well might be a cat lady. In fact, we don’t even think there’s a question.

We thank you for being a Good Samaritan and helping those felines!

Image Credit: Lea Rae, Shutterstock

You Own More Than One Piece of Cat Décor

If you have a little cat figurine or a little pair of cat socks, that can be totally normal. But buy a pair of cat earrings and a matching purse and suddenly you get the cat lady label.

You Have a Cat-Related Bumper Sticker

If someone is cruising behind you, could they pick you out of a lineup? Are you the one with that blatantly obvious cat bumper sticker on your car? Or maybe you just have a sticker about animals in general.

You Talk to Your Cats Like People

If anyone comes to your house, you sit there having a full-on conversation with your cat. It’s as if you have to explain to them where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and check in on their day while you’re at it.

If you talk to your cat and everyone looks at you like you’re talking to Casper the Friendly Ghost, you might be a cat lady.

You Have at Least Three Nicknames for Each Cat

We all know that you gave your cat a distinguished name in the beginning. But now? They’ve become about six different things depending on your mood and how they’re acting. You have a monologue for every action that they take.

You could sit there for hours just narrating their actions and be perfectly content with that. When you baby talk to them, it could be a string of 7,000 words you just made up on a whim and started spouting off in a soft-pitched, ridiculously accented voice.

Woman Baking with Cat
Image Credit: ViDI Studio, Shutterstock

You Include Your Cat in the Holidays

We’re not talking about buying them a Christmas present. But is that you in your Sunday best holding your cat in your Christmas card photo? We know for a fact you’re a cat lady. We don’t even have to ask. Did you just make your cat their very own Thanksgiving dish? You’ve given yourself away.

You Won’t Consider Dating Someone Who Hates Cats

If you’re making a dating profile, you’re going to make sure to include that you love cats. You will not hesitate to kick someone off your list, no matter how cute, if they even show the slightest sign that they have negative feelings towards this particular species.

Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

You Can’t Say No to a Cat in Need

You could be a cat lady if everyone you know calls you if they find a kitten or abandoned cat. If you’re the go-to person for any questions cat-related, whether it be medical, behavioral, or otherwise, you’re certainly a cat lady. You are willing to help any cat owner or cat that needs your help.

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When Is Being a Cat Lady a Problem?

You know what they say. Everything is about balance. It seems that being a cat lady these days is all well and good. But when exactly is being a cat lady a problem?


Hoarding is intentionally taking on an overabundance of something. If you have too many cats, it can lead to unsanitary living conditions, overwhelmingly bad smells, catfights, and fur overload.

Image Credit: BearFotos_Shutterstock

Lack of Finances

You shouldn’t have a cat if you don’t have enough money to afford vet care, a proper diet, grooming, and supply costs for all your cats. Once the finances start to tighten and you can’t seem to make ends meet, that means you have too many!

Lack of Proper Hygiene

Improper hygiene can certainly contribute to the negative side of cat lady. If you aren’t properly cleaning out your cats’ litter boxes or keeping up with their hairballs and regurgitation and shedding, it can get gross in the house very fast!

Combating tough cat litter smells is an ongoing battle for pet parents but luckily, there are products out there designed to help! Two products that significantly reduce odors are the Hepper Litter Additive and the Hepper Enzyme Spray. Find out which is better suit to your needs with our breakdown of each product below. 

Hepper Enzyme Spray - New Label Hepper Litter additive
Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Cat Litter Deodorizer Powder
Eliminates smells
Eliminates smells:
Eliminates smells:
Removes stains
Removes stains:
Removes stains:
Light fresh scent
Light fresh scent:
Light fresh scent:
Works on multiple surfaces
Works on multiple surfaces:
Works on multiple surfaces:
Neutralizes odor within cat litter
Neutralizes odor within cat litter:
Neutralizes odor within cat litter:

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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So, what do you think, do you consider yourself a cat lady? If you do, proudly proclaim it! We need more cat ladies in the world who will stand up for the voiceless and let all the homeless neighborhood street cats find a warm place to sleep.

You’re a rockstar, cat lady. Keep it up.

Featured Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

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