The crazy cat lady. We hear that all the time by people who think just because you have a few cats that perhaps you’ve taken up standing on the corner and yelling obscenities at people. I mean, what does it mean? Crazy cat lady. Just how many cats qualify you to be a “crazy cat lady” or “crazy cat person”. Is it two? Three? Five? Ten? How many? And why aren’t there any crazy dog ladies or crazy rabbit people or crazy guinea pig people. What about birds? I know some people who have five birds. Are they crazy? Well, yeah, they might be. Have you heard the noise five birds can make? Nevermind the mess and destruction. But I digress.
I grew up with animals. We had chickens and rabbits and cats and a dog. And once we had an owl that one of my siblings found that was hurt. Mum nursed it back to health and off it flew. We also brought home things, like little brown snakes. Why I have no idea. We grew up in the country, snakes were everywhere. Why bring them into the house? Being surrounded by animals certainly has skewed my attitude about life with the beasts. I can’t imagine not having them. We lived in farm country, everybody had scads of animals. So are dairy farmers “crazy cow people”? Were the Cowans “crazy horse people” because they had race horses? And does the fact that we had a flock of about a dozen chickens qualify us as “crazy chicken people”? So why is it that if you have a few cats around that people think you are crazy?
Yes, I know there have been many reports of hoarding situations where there have been scores of cats taken out of someone’s home. And yes, there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of women, mostly older, involved but does that mean everyone who has a few should be tarnished with the same brush? What about dog hoarders. There are lots of them out there and yet no one seems to want to call everyone with a few dogs, “crazy dog people”.
Is it because cats are still one of those animals that most people know nothing about? Is it because cats are still seen as being aloof and independent? Most people think it’s cute to see a dog dressed up as Tinkerbell for Halloween and yet I’m seen as a crazy person if I put a sweater on my cat. Is it because dogs, especially the small, furry variety, are often seen as child replacements by a growing number of
crazy, delusional people who can’t distinguish between two and four legs? I mean, come on, people. If you own one of the hairless breeds or a small dog that can’t take the cold or if there is a medical reason for your dog to wear a frilly dress, fair enough, but it’s a dog. Yes, they are just as much a part of the family as your two-legged members but they are still animals and no amount of perfume, nail polish or designer clothing is going to cover that fact. I mean, I love Pete and he has a winter coat because we live in Canada and we have two seasons: winter and not winter, but he isn’t my child. If he was I would fully expect Ripley’s Believe It Or Not to show up at my door.
Is it because most people think dogs are more openly affectionate than cats. I have had a lot of animals over the years. There was one time that we had: five cats, one dog, three budgies, two degus, one rabbit, a bare-eyed cockatoo and two guinea pigs. And we would have had four canaries as well but I found a good home for them. That was insane, even I admit that and yet it was also a fun time where we never had a dull moment and I don’t regret it one bit. What I found out is that all animals are affectionate in their own way. Dogs haven’t cornered the market on that emotion. Not only are animals openly affectionate to us but they are just the same to each other. Our cat, KD, and Bugs, the rabbit, certainly had a very affectionate relationship. But then, KD seemed to like everyone and everything. Sure, owning that many animals made it next to impossible to entertain and it made it difficult to go out anywhere, at least in clothes that didn’t have fur or feathers on them, but it was also a time when love seemed to be everywhere. The minute you sat down there was someone wanting your lap or a pat or a scratch or your food. Did you know bunnies like oatmeal raisin cookies?
Right now we have: two cats, one dog, three degus and a rabbit. The dog we got from rescue and is somewhat aloof, not at all like our laps-are-made-for-dogs Cocker Spaniel. Honey was the doggy equivalent to a velcro suit, the minute you sat on the couch she was stuck on you. The cats we took in at five days old when it was obvious the mother couldn’t look after them. Mac was the most affectionate of the three and although the other two have become friendlier as they’ve aged I wouldn’t want to say they are overly affectionate. They have their moments and if we aren’t swatted by one of them at least once during the day, we worry that they may be sick. The degus my daughter got to keep her old degu company when her companion died. Are they affectionate? In their own way, yes. They don’t come out and cuddle the way their predecessors, Mika & Pita, did but they like to have attention and come running over if you talk to them. And the rabbit? Well, the rabbit we found along the road. She was obviously abandoned and had been on the loose for some time. How such a loving little bunny ended up on the streets I have no idea but someone’s loss is our gain.
Ruby was just over a kilo (around 2.5lbs) when we found her. She had been out on her own for quite some time, or so the vet thought because she should have been between 2-3 kilo’s (4-6lbs). Unfortunately the vet discovered that she has uterine cancer and the roots of her teeth are getting overgrown. Either one is a death sentence for her. The cancer is slow-growing so she could have a couple of years before it becomes a problem but the teeth are another matter. The vet said to take her home and spoil her rotten in her remaining time and she seems to be basking in the attention. So far she’s a happy, affectionate little creature who loves to run over to you for pats. She loves getting spoiled and seems grateful for everything we do for her. Our other rabbit, Bugs, was also a very affectionate bunny, but he was more of the, “Yes, yes, I’m adorable now give me that cookie” kind of attention seeker. And now we are thinking of getting Ruby a friend. Is that crazy? Ok, it may be a little weird but crazy?
I have had three other cats over the course of the years. Duke and Spike were my first two. Duke was a very loving gentleman who, when not dragging my knitting all over the place, would sit on my lap and put his two paws on my shoulders, nestle his face against mine and go to sleep. At night he would curl himself against my back or snuggle in against my stomach making it impossible to move. One eventful morning I thought I was paralyzed because when I went to stand up, I couldn’t move my legs and fell flat on my face. Duke had just been sleeping next to me and because I couldn’t move I guess I had slept on a nerve funny. Spike, on the other hand, was a bit of a neurotic and was afraid of everything, poor soul. He spent most of his life hiding under the bed but when he ventured out, he could be such a loving and forgiving cat. I’ve always felt guilty that he didn’t have a happier life.
And now we’ve been thinking of getting Pete a buddy. After Mara went back home it became evident that Pete missed her company so we’ve been considering what kind of dog we would get as a second pet. I’m lobbying for a dog-friendly cat but the only problem with that is that our cats aren’t very cat-friendly. They barely tolerate each other and they are brothers. A large bunny, like a Flemish Giant, would be able to take care of itself but they aren’t called “giant” for nothing. Those big-footed, fluffy-tailed, long-eared lapins weigh up to 11 kilos (25lbs). I’m not sure I want to be scooping up bunny poop from that big a bunny. Besides, if Ruby wants to she can release quite a kick so can you imagine one from a bunny that size?
So if I got one or two dog-friendly cats or kittens would this push me into some kind of domestic companion stratosphere where my neighbours start whispering behind their hands when they see me? If we got another dog are the neighbours going to sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches just as a precaution? If we got another rabbit would Monty Python show up at our door looking for the Holy Grail? At what point does having a few animals turn into “that crazy animal lover down the street”? And if I do become the “crazy cat lady” should I send out flyers advising my neighbours to keep their cats indoors lest they “disappear”? Will there be a picture of me tacked to the bulletin board at the local animal control? Do vets give a volume discount?