a 'crazy cat lady' with curlers in her hair holds her cat

What Makes a Crazy Cat Lady (and Am I One)?


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What makes a crazy cat lady (or lad) and am I one? Is being crazy about cats, or dogs, even a bad thing? Surely not… but maybe so? We know this age old phrase has been used to poke fun in the past but since it’s 2023 we thought it’s time for a refreshing outlook on what being a crazy cat lover means.

I’m obsessed with my cat. We have a really strong, really weird codependent, almost Bella/Edward relationship. I’m going to be a crazy cat lady one day, I’m sure.

– Kristen Stewart, Actor

Since many of us pet parents are crazy about our cats and dogs, PD Insurance has decided to unpack more about this well-worn turn of phrase. Here’s what we’ve covered:

woman is crazy about her cat

What makes someone a crazy cat lady?

In the bad old days, the term crazy cat lady pretty much meant a woman with lots of cats who was very likely old or batty or lonely or any combination of these.

Nowadays, however, the phrase has had a revamp. Firstly, anyone who has a cat/s and is crazy about them can and very well might call themselves a crazy cat lady or lad. And happily too. Need we say, crazy in a good way.

Secondly, organisations that use the phrase crazy cat lady are most often cat shelters or pet services. Basically the meaning has gone from bad to good and it just makes so much sense.

To all the women and men out there who aren’t at all lonely thanks to their fantastic cat/s, hoorah for being crazy cat lovers! Let’s join paws in celebrating our kitty-cats.

an old lady with a cat is nicknamed the neighbourhood's crazy cat lady

Where did the phrase crazy cat lady come from?

The crazy cat lady term may have started as long ago as cats were domesticated. Unlike the first dogs, cats didn’t eat human food. They preferred to prey on rats, mice and other creatures that were trying to nibble away at human foods. This meant cats stayed near humans but didn’t directly depend on us.

As a result they developed a bit of a reputation for being aloof. Along with this bad name cats were then persecuted for being associated with ‘witches’.

Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.

– Eloisa James, Professor / Author

In the past, women who didn’t marry were often seen as kooky or eccentric. Nowadays that’s not the case as it’s fairly well accepted that not everyone wants to get married, nor should they feel they have to. Being single is entirely normal, as is simply being in a relationship without documentation attached.

In the past if you just added one, two, three or more cats to the stereotype of kooky and single, you were dubbed the ‘crazy cat lady’. Boy oh boy have times changed. Now you can simply get that badge of honour for having even one cat. And you can wear it proudly.

two cat ladies sit and have tea with their cat on their laps

Why crazy, specifically?

One reason the word crazy may have crept into the phrase cat lady could be toxoplasma gondii, which can reproduce in cats and be transmitted to humans via their faeces. Studies claimed the parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis – something resulting in muscle pain, fever, headache and sometimes worse symptoms – was linked to mental health disorders.

Although there are cases of toxoplasmosis causing a range of serious health issues (see here) cats can also be wonderful for mental wellness. Read up on the benefits of sleeping with your cat in your bed and about the benefits of owning a pet.

I kind of imagine myself at eighty, a cat lady.

– Juliette Lewis, Actor

Worried about toxoplasmosis? Read these interesting facts:

  • This parasite can live in all warm blooded creatures but can only sexually reproduce in cats.
  • Newly infected cats shed millions of T. gondii oocysts (like tiny eggs) in their faeces and these can live up to several months.
  • While you should be especially careful about guarding against toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, the real danger is when directly handling kitty poop.
  • In other words, remember to wear gloves and/or wash your hands thoroughly after changing litter, working through soil or a sandpit a cat may have defecated in, and so on.

Read more about toxoplasmosis and pregnancy in our article on cats and babies.

a crazy cat lad holds his cat

Am I a cat lady or lad?

If you’re asking yourself ‘am I a crazy cat lady or lad?’ the answer could very well be yes!

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of cat ownership on the planet with nearly half of households being home to at least one cat. That gives you a pretty good chance of being a crazy cat guy or gal. To be precise, it gives you close to a 50% chance of holding this status.

While we can’t give you an award, we’d like to commend you on being a cat parent.

a lady lies on the ground looking up at the camera surrounded by her many cats

How many cats makes you a crazy cat lady?

Good question. There’s probably no right or wrong answer. The old stereotype of the crazy cat lady would have been a woman who ‘hoards’ cats. Sadly the outdated version also implied someone who couldn’t properly house or feed her cat hoard.

I love cats. I have a lot of cat tales, ha ha, so to speak. A lot of my cats come to me. They show up at my house. I’m kind of a cat lady that way.

– Gina Gershon, Actor

Gone are the stereotypes. Let’s all band together around responsible pet ownership and being crazy cat people with one or many cats!

Catster’s take on how many cats makes you a crazy cat lady would be a minimum of three. That said, we often dub men and women (or they dub themselves) crazy cat people with just one cat. We’re willing to wager it’s entirely up to you and your cat/s to decide.

Crazy Cat Lady film

Yes there’s a film called the Crazy Cat Lady and no it’s not just about ladies, but gentlemen too. It’s actually a documentary about a group of cat loving folk in Los Angeles who make it their work to help stray cats find their furever home.

Nothing tells the tale of a documentary better than a trailer so have a watch here:

PS: Women aren’t just cat lovers, they love their canine friends, too! Check out the piece we did for International Women’s Day to shows scientific data to prove dogs really are women’s best friend!

Free cat insurance, now that’s crazy (amazing)!

We at PD Insurance are totally cat (and dog) crazy. That’s why we’re offering one or more months of FREE cat insurance when you buy your pawlicy online.

With award winning pet insurance you won’t have to pay for unexpected vet bills alone. Your cat’s plan helps you pay for a range of pet healthcare costs. Dental treatment, surgery, hospital stays, medication, X-rays, diagnosis, allergies and hereditary conditions are just some, depending on the level of cover you choose.

Our cat insurance plans are crazy easy to use because you can log in online to submit a claim any time of day, seven days a week. Click below to get a quote today.

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