I’m a self-confessed 'crazy cat lady', and I love it. While my childhood friends played with baby dolls I used an old front door key to play ‘lady who lived in a flat with seven cats’ alone in my room.
When these said-same friends grew up and started to get broody for a real-life Tiny Tears, my feelings were more caternal than maternal.
My first cat was a tiny, spitting, ball of hell-fury called Maverick bought for me by an ex-boyfriend. In our naivety we didn't realise that a former stray may not be an ideal starter pet.
My second cat was Jupiter - the sole offspring of Maverick, born on my lap. The largest, fattest, most personality-devoid and docile cat you'll ever meet.
The third was Ampersand - another gift from another ex-boyfriend. I have a habit of setting up cat-franchises around London it seems.
Despite the fact that I've given you the bare information about each bundle of fur you've already no doubt formed an opinion of me - crazy-haired, wild-eyed and wearing a soup-stained dressing gown with pockets full of Go-Cat and kittens.
And you wouldn't be alone: a survey by kitty litter company Tidy Cats found that 75% of people thought that multiple cat owners were 'smelly', 85% thought that they were always covered in cat hair, 69% thought that they were lonely and 62% agreed with the statement, “when I think about people with multiple cats, I think of the phrase ‘crazy cat lady.’”
It's amazing how admitting to owning not one but several cats marks you as some sort of loon. If I'd said I was a dog owner no doubt you would have enquired about the breed and age of each acquisition. But say you like cats and people back away slowly incase you pull out a pocketbook of photos of the little critters wearing hats and eating at the dinner table.
I own this
If I add that I'm single I might as well start talking in tongues or try to shove peas in my ears.
I don't see why owning a cat means you're some sort of social misfit. Women and cats have a natural fit: we have a shared history of being viewed with suspicion, we were both burnt as witches and we share many adjectives such as kitten, cougar, catty, pussy or tiger.
Plus, cats make ideal busy-girl pets - they are self-sufficient, but affectionate and make much more noise than plants if you forget to water them, thus greatly minimising their risk of death.
Just because I like cats doesn't mean I see them as a relationship replacement. While cats are undoubtedly far superior spider hunters than men, they don't have opposable thumbs so can't open stuck jams jars and are rubbish at assembling IKEA furniture (you can't get them past the string and the boxes).
Jupiter dressed as a pumpkin
Saying that, I cried far harder and far longer when my cat (Maverick) was run over earlier this year than I ever have after being dumped by a boyfriend.
Maybe cat ladies are crazy - I talk to my cats, do tequila shots with (at) them and sing them songs, and have been known to try and fit them into seasonal costumes. But I reckon most pet owners do the same.
In which case, it's the goldfish people you should probably look out for.