When I say I spent this year’s Valentine’s Day with my cats, what I really mean is that I spent Valentine’s Day getting ignored by my cats. Whenever I bury my face into Kuro-chan’s soft, furry bottom, I am promptly greeted with a look of discomfort and my face hits the floor as my cat runs out from under me. Whenever Orange-shiro-chan comes up nuzzling next to me, she stops the minute I realize her intention and begin pouring food for her. And when I try to hug Kuro-chan, she just looks at me with that face of “Why would you do this to me?” and shames me into slinking away.
Those experiences basically summarize what it means to be a cat owner. Your cats act like gods and expect you to adore them whenever they want you to, manipulating you with their cute, deceiving looks. You get ignored most of the time and cherish the moments when they seem as though they semi-like you. That one purr is so precious compared to the numerous times your cat judges you with condescending eyes. And even though they don’t seem to like you very much, you still love them and say that having cats is the best thing ever.
When I tell people I have six cats, I usually get the same reaction — a look of disbelief along with some undertones of judgement. A voice of surprise accompanied by a dry reaction. I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not exactly normal to have a bunch of cats roaming around your house.
Some of my friends have even dubbed me the “crazy cat lady.” It’s probably because of my tendency to ramble on about how Kuro-chan (my black cat) ignored me today or how Orange-chan (I know, real creative) pretends to walk away from the food bowl only to sprint back when he hears it being refilled. Or about that time when Kuro-chan was screaming (no, not meowing, screaming) at 4 a.m. I could go on for longer except you might think I’m crazy.
As a cat lady, I don’t understand why the name carries such a negative connotation. The stigma it carries is the image of an old, lonely woman with no other companions but the cats she adores to fill the void in her heart. Yet the reality is that cat ladies are simply women who have many cats as pets and adore them as any other pet owner would. Okay, maybe it sounds a little weird, but it’s not always that babbling, crazy woman washing her cats on a washboard as portrayed by the media.
And even if people do seek comfort from their pets, why is it that there’s so much support for single people when cat ladies are shamed for seeking companionship? What’s so wrong about it? I think it’s much more shameful to get a date for Valentine’s Day simply out of desperation or with the idea in mind that you will dump them after the holiday is over.
And yet I feel somewhat ashamed writing this column. It’s not that I’m so lonely that I substitute cats as my friends or that I’m so desperate to fill a void in myself. But this stigma makes me feel uncomfortable about writing about being a so-called cat lady. It makes me seem as though I am unwanted, unadorned, undesirable. And that’s not what being a cat lady means.
Being a cat lady means you get to see a bunch of cute furry faces everyday looking at you with their little button noses and big puppy eyes. Being a cat lady means that whenever you’re feeling so frustrated with the world you can bury yourself into the soft welcoming pelt of a cat (or at least until they get frustrated with you). Being a cat lady means you always have someone to come home to.
Maybe I just sound like a “crazy cat lady,” but you can probably find me next year spending Valentine’s Day with my cats once again.