Social Question

Jude's avatar

Why does one become a "crazy cat lady"?

Asked by Jude (31993 points ) March 10th, 2010

I’m watching a Canadian documentary on cat ladies (cat hoarders) (could be “cat men”). All of the women in the documentary had at least 50 cats. Disturbing and very sad.

Why are people like this? They tend to isolate themselves from others and taking care (collecting) cats is their world.

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41 Answers

Ivan's avatar

At first I thought this said ”how does one become a crazy cat lady?” and I was slightly perplexed.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Psychological disorder coupled with a need for companionship not being met through human interactions.

Vunessuh's avatar

I’m just confused as to why this question showed up in my Questions for You. o.0

Trillian's avatar

I saw something about hoarders, and it can be “stuff” too, not just animals. Unbelievable, and yeah, kind of sad.

Val123's avatar

@Vunessuh The tag word “crazy” Muhaaaaaa!!!
Having said that, this is a really good Q, and I flagged it such, so never mind me, Mods.

Good Question…companionship…the need to feel needed….something lacking….the need to feel you’re making a difference. But, I would have to wonder, what about the need for basic cleanliness? How does that fall by the wayside?

loser's avatar

It all starts with one little kitty cat…

talljasperman's avatar

not being married but wanting to love something that can’t complain back

Cruiser's avatar

@Vunessuh Ummm…maybe because your avatar is a caped litter box scooper!!??

talljasperman's avatar

@Trillian I have 3000 textbooks in a one bedroom apartment… most are on bookshelves….some on the floor… others in the pantry… others on the table… papers everywhere.

rangerr's avatar

My great grandmother lived next door to a lady who had about 40 cats at the time of her death. Her children had died in a barn fire many years back and she was the last one left in her family as she was an only child. So she really didn’t have anyone. She started taking in strays and it went from there. She took very good care of those cats, and her house wasn’t as nasty as you’d expect it to be.
She would talk about how the cats were her children and how they would keep her company. Very, very sweet lady.

Vunessuh's avatar

@Val123 Maybe it’s an inkling into my future. * cries * I don’t wanna be the crazy cat lady!
@Cruiser Could very well be.

Jude's avatar

@rangerr There was a lady like that in the documentary. She had lost everyone in her family and once she retired from work, she said that she no longer had a purpose..until she started taking in cats. She admitted to the fact that she was lonely.

jerv's avatar

Easy – people are vastly overrated.

lillycoyote's avatar

I think it’s a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a form of hoarding and I suppose it probably has both a nature and nurture component, genetics and circumstances. (plus an unwillingness to stop at two cats and an unwillingness not to not be crazy)

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think there could be several reasons, one of which being loneliness. I kind of feel like I might end up a crazy cat lady, though I honestly can’t imagine ever having 50 of them. For me, it’s that I love cats, I haven’t yet found any person I can live with that doesn’t end up driving me crazy, I have a jaded view of the world and a real mistrust of people, yet I have a need for companionship and some outlet for my love, caring, and compassion.

I also know someone who is a hoarder (inanimate objects) and she has like 20 cats. However, the house is clean, not smelly, and you’d never guess there were that many cats. They live in a semi-rural town outside of Chicago and I completely understand how it all happened; in fact, if I were in her shoes, I’m not sure I would have done any differently. Basically, every winter these strays show up at their back door, cold and starving. Some people would ignore them and let nature take its course, but people like myself and this woman just can’t bear to see the animals suffer.

I do have OCD, I don’t know about the hoarding cat lady. I feel like I have to be careful because I could see myself going down the hoarding path, but that has a lot to do with my attachment issues and difficulties letting go of items that hold nostalgic value for me. I will say, though, that I really don’t want to be crazy, so I do work to keep the crazy tendencies in check. I succeed, generally. :)

thriftymaid's avatar

I don’t know, but every neighborhood seems to have one.

YARNLADY's avatar

We bought a house that was owned by one – she just ‘saved’ cats, and they did what came naturally until she moved out of the house, and left it to the cats. According to the neighbors, she came over every day and left food (and apparently put water in the bathtub) and the house filled itself up with cats.

Buttonstc's avatar

Not all of them are strays who just showed up. As a matter of fact, not even most of them.

Unfortunately, cat boarders are so out of touch with reality that they fail to seek out and utilize the free/low cost spay/ neuter options available in practically any area of this country.

Some make the excuse that taking them to a vet to get fixed costs too much. But the plain fact of the matter is that most locations in the US whether urban or rural have clinics and organizations that arrange it for free or $20–50 at the highest. And compared to traditional Vets, that is dirt cheap. Even the most cursory of inquiries will yield contacts as these organizations advertise widely and often, especially around kitten season.

It would cost so much more than that for food and cat litter for all those born from the neglect to spay/neuter. But these people are obviously bereft of logic.

You can’t allow cats to rampantly reproduce and NOT end up with unmanageable totals. No one starts out to be a crazy cat person but just letting nature take it’s course will have that result.

And every time there is one of these cases on the news, the one thing that is not widely publicized but is invariably the case, is that the majority of these cats are unadoptable and must be euthanized.

Living in such e trend crowding produces very poorly socialized cats. The majority have the same personalities as ferel cats or worse.

People think they’re being kind and rescuing these cats but cooling them up in overcrowded conditions is hardly kind. When eventually discovered, it dooms them to death.

All around, a very sad situation.

finkelitis's avatar

There’s a very interesting theory about this being tossed around right now. There’s a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii which thrives in the stomachs of cats. However, to get in, it usually infects mice first, which are later eaten by cats (amazing, but not out of the ordinary for parasite behavior). It does this by crossing the fear centers of mice’s brains with their sexual centers, effectively making them love cats rather than fear them. (I suspect this video is not an example of this, but you get the idea.)

There has been some research suggesting that

1. Many humans have T. gondii living inside them.
2. This may have affected human culture in profound ways.
3. It may explain the “crazy cat lady” phenomenon—essentially, those women have fallen prey to a parasite driven brain disorder that causes them to respond favorably to the smell of cat urine.

Science! Showing us things stranger than anything we could have dreamed up in a million years!

delam's avatar

I don’t like cats but my feeling is that cats are easier to take care of than dogs and they provide companionship.

wilma's avatar

I have always wondered if I would someday become one of those crazy cat ladies.
I think it could happen if things went a certain way in my life.
I already have “collecting” tendencies, and a need/ability (?) to nurture.
I try to control my destiny, to take the path of noncrazyness.

Val123's avatar

I couldn’t afford it.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Also, you know what’s great about animals? They don’t care about your foibles. They take your love and give it right back to you, unconditionally. They don’t criticize, yell, or mess with your head.

ratboy's avatar

I have 53 cats. Will I be normal again if I kill 4 of them?

JTSTs2003's avatar

Cat’s are cute, have personalities like people, and the less time you spend socializing the more your skills go down, making your desire for human companionship to go down. Que in the cats!

It’s not the cat’s fault :)

catladiesdoc's avatar

Hi there, we’re the filmmakers of CAT LADIES and if you would like us to answer any of your questions – we’re more than happy to oblige!

MagicalMystery's avatar

i think the cats are substitutes for children. i have 3 cats and a child, and 3 is enough. but to have 10 or 20 or 30 cats to the point where it takes over your life, your house, etc. is crazy.

YARNLADY's avatar

@catladiesdoc How kind of you to visit Fluther. Why do people become ‘cat ladies’ or ‘cat men’?

Coloma's avatar

What about becoming a crazy Goose lady?

I have ONE cat, but my passion is my chinese geese, alway’s joke that I’ll have to have a kiddie pool in the old folks home for my flappy footed friends! hahahaha

I am TRULY Mother Goose!

augustlan's avatar

This is why I won’t ever have more than 2 cats at a time. Unless I live on a farm. Then, all bets are off!

Coloma's avatar

Hahaha…yep, I do live on 5 acres and have finally reached a place of balance with the critters after years of having everything. ( when my daughter was growing up )

2 geese, 2 chickens, 1 cat….but…I have been horseless for about 8 years now and still have moments of my equine addicition arise…stare at my big oak studded pasture and visualize a new horse, but….don’t want the responsibility now, it’s hard enough to find a good goos sitter when I’m away! hahaha

jaycemeadows's avatar

To the makers of the cat ladies documentary. Please answer the question. My husband of 17 years has always caused me a great deal of pain, beligerant to me, controlling, yelling, a terrible drunk till 2000, now a dry drunk. I started bringing home strays when I was a child, I still do but I find them homes after getting them fixed. I sometimes have 14 cats in the house but I now have it down to 9. I started feeding feral colonies while he was drunk because he totally ignored me. When he sobered up he discovered I was paying too much attention to the cats and started yelling about it. He has told me to find someone else to do it over and over again. I have found several people who help me but no one to completely take over all of the colonies totally. He has never been able to control that portion of my life so now he says he is fed up and leaving after 17 years. Is it possible that I started this “hobby” because I was not getting any love from him? Did I use the love of cats as some sort of defense mechanism?

wilma's avatar

@jaycemeadows , it does sound like that might be the case. I am not a professional, so don’t take my word for it. I think you have a better idea about that than anyone else.
Is he really leaving? and do you want him to go?

anartist's avatar

This is a sliding scale sort of thing.
Are three cats too many or eight or 20?
As long as one can properly care for the cats, including expensive veterinary care, and keep one’s home in good order and not bother the neighbors there are not too many cats. When the cats, the caregiver, and family, friends and neighbors are negatively affected, there are too many cats [even one cat can be too much for some people]. Someone who continues on, unaware of an increasingly bad situation will gradually slide into the role of “crazy cat lady.”

Buttonstc's avatar

This place started out with one woman devoting her house and property to caring for cats nobody else wanted.

Obviously she had some financial resources and common sense to make certain to get proper vet care, etc. But I’m sure that initially people viewed her as a “crazy cat lady”.

They recently did a short segment about it on a new Animal Planet series called “Must Love Cats” and there’s a few clips up on You Tube.

Thought everybody might find it a refreshing change from the usual sad tales depicted on TV and in the news. Enjoy.

www.cathouseonthekings.com

anartist's avatar

@Buttonstc A man did something similar except he had more carpentry/cainetmaker skills.

Hibernate's avatar

Personal problems maybe ?

Or maybe they feel excluded from other’s lives ?

comity's avatar

It’s really sad. I rescue cats and limit the numbers I personally take care of, for my and their sake. One woman wanted to help and foster. When I went over to her house to see where the cats would be housed, I realized she was a hoarder with issues. The poor cats in her care weren’t really rescued. They lived in absolute filth, were boney, sick and loaded with fleas and ear mites. I had to talk to authorities so the cats could be rehomed. On one end of the poor treatment of cats is the one who dumps them, on the other end is the hoarder. Sad!!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Interesting that many of you observed that collecting cats (or any other animals) are because the person is lonely or as a substitute for children. My best friend’s mom was a cat collector, and she had plenty of friends and had 9 children, so I wonder what that was all about. They were quite poor, so feeding all those cats was a financial burden they didn’t need. The only reason I could think of was that the cats were free, so it was one thing they could have more of than anyone else. In fact, most animal collectors are poor, so maybe it does have something to do with a lack of other possessions.

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