I love cats, but am I a cat lady?

OK, many of you know I’ve always been a cat person.

I could give you a detailed description of the many, many cats I’ve shared my life with (and I could include photos and birth dates, too.)

But the mere fact that I think it would be weird if I did that makes me wonder if I’m indeed a real cat person after all.

I mean, sure. I have about 100 cat figurines that once decorated my childhood bedroom, some bought by me and others given to me by friends and relatives who knew of my feline obsession.

And in the past I have called relatives asking them to make sure my cats were OK while I was enjoying a night out at the theater (before we had kids, of course.)

And I scaled down all the nice throw rugs in our house to accommodate our incontinent diabetic cat, replacing the rugs with cheap rugs that could be thrown in the washer.

True, I still share my life with several cats with human names and distinct personalities, whom I talk to as if they’re humans.

Yet we also have dogs, too, and maybe this has tempered my weird cat lady tendencies.

I’ve always lived with dogs, too, but I never was as close to them as a breed. Yeah, I loved my own dogs but not necessarily anyone else’s.  

Marrying a definite dog lover, though, has changed me, made me more balanced. And probably cemented the reaction I had today.

Matt and I were driving in Columbia, having just dropped off one of our dogs for a month of radiation therapy to treat her cancer. Matt was driving the speed limit of 30 mph in a residential neighborhood when we heard a loud, long horn honk. I looked in my side mirror and saw a silver Ford Escape tailing us.

“They must think I’m driving too slowly,” Matt said. “Or it’s the cat on the dashboard.”

I thought he was joking. Then I turned around to look through the back window, and sure enough. There was an orange tabby on the dashboard.

Matt pulled over a little bit, and the Escape zipped past.

And I immediately judged that person as a weirdo cat lover, which made me question whether I really am one.

Especially after an incident a few years back. We ended up with a stray kitten a family member came upon. As the family cat weirdo, I was the natural destination of this kitty. Except we already had three cats and two dogs, not to mention three kids, one still in diapers.

Then it turned out the kitten had feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV. That’s like kitty HIV. There’s no vaccine against it, and it’s pretty contagious. The vet said if we kept the cat, we’d have to keep it isolated away from the others. The kitten was pretty sickly, too.

I started calling cat rescue groups, trying to find an FIV-positive home for this kitten. No luck. Then I remembered a former co-worker’s wife was a cat person. So I called her, asking if she knew anyone who could take an FIV-positive kitty or whether there were any such rescue groups.

Well, that was a mistake. She was absolutely no help, unless you count the major guilt trip she unloaded on me to keep the kitten. She didn’t understand why I couldn’t dedicate a room in our house to this cat. Why not? Truly, she was incredulous.

Feeling like a pile of crap, I hung up the phone and kept up with my search. Then a couple days later, our vet called. The kitten, who’d been in isolation at the vet clinic, had died, presumably from the disease.

So anyway, I’m questioning my rep as the cat lady, despite my many cat books and my vast experience giving cats shots and subcutaneous fluids and enemas.

I still love ‘em, though.


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