Embracing the Stereotype: The Modern Cat Lady

Growing up I had zero love for cats. In my defense I had every reason to keep my distance. None of my extended family had cats, and all my cat-loving friends tended to house whatever the feline equivalent of Cujo is. One friend in particular seemed to have an aversion to cleaning the litter box, so as a result the house just reeked. I thought that was how all cats smelled. I thought that was how all cats behaved. All of that changed in 2007 when in one afternoon I found myself with two kittens of my very own.

Over the ensuing years the number of cats in my house has fluctuated. Now my husband and I share our home with three, yes three darn cats:

  • The Dude, his name a blatant The Big Lebowski reference meant to win over my father-in-law, does indeed abide, though he can be a total spaz, too.
  • Tonks, named after my favorite Harry Potter character, is fiercely obsessed with all humans.
  • Gypsy, who was named after the squeaking heroine of MST3K, is the stereotypical ‘fraidy cat.

And stereotypes are what we’re talking about today, people. For one day I woke up and realized one giant truth about myself: I’m a cardigan-wearing, library-working, crazy cat lady. And I’m totally owning it! If you, like me, want to embrace the crazy cat lady stereotype, you’ll want to check out these books stat.

67 ReasonsFirst, let’s establish that cats are better than dogs. Don’t believe me? You definitely need to read 67 Reasons Why Cats are Better than Dogs by Jack Shepherd, who is responsible for launching the Animals section of BuzzFeed. Did you know that cats are better engineers, won’t eat your baby, comfort the afflicted, face their adversaries head-on, and are extremely hard workers? It’s true! Much like the website, this book is packed with imagery that proves point after point.

CHNA7291*catlady_case_1stPROOFS.inddat Lady Chic by Diane Lovejoy showcases dozens of glamorous, stylish, and posh women and their cats. These portraits range from classical paintings to iconic black-and-whites from Hollywood’s heyday to full-color photographs from the last few years. Marilyn Monroe, Ali MacGraw, Lana Del Rey, Lauren Bacall, Keira Knightly, Eartha Kitt, Twiggy, Ursula Andress, Eva Longoria, and of course Lee Meriwether dressed as Catwoman. These women embrace the stereotype and challenge it at the same time.

Cat PersonCat Person by Seo Kim is a collection of comics that started out as the author’s challenge to herself to create one new comic each day. I can tell she’s a true cat lady at heart because her cat, Jimmy, is featured in many comics in the front and back of the book. My favorites include the ways to hug a cat, different cat charades (imagine what chicken nugget and slug look like; if you have a cat this should be easy), and the horrible fate of unattended food left in front of a computer screen, Skype call in progress. Sometimes the panels so reflect my own life that I do a double-take. I’ve definitely found a kindred spirit in Seo Kim.

CatificationOnce I realized that being a cat lady isn’t so bad, I decided to see what more I could do to make life as a cat under my roof more enjoyable. That’s when I picked up Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for your Cat (and You!) by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin. I don’t have TV any more, so I hadn’t heard of Jackson Galaxy or his TV show, My Cat from Hell. But now I realize that Jackson is a genius. Yes, this book is packed with projects you can make to keep your cats happy and healthy inside your home. But it’s also got some great tips on recognizing your cat’s mood. You’ll also learn how to ensure your indoor-only cat can still have his animal instincts met (hunting, climbing, and so on). A happy cat is a happy cat lady. If this isn’t already a saying, I’m making it one.

PetcamSo what holiday gifts do you buy the modern cat lady in your life? Start with Petcam: The World Through the Lens of Our Four-Legged Friends by Chris Keeney. Any cat lady will appreciate all the trouble the three cats in this book went to in order to take some snazzy pics of their daily lives. Botty, Fritz, and Xander each wore small cameras around their necks and took photos of the places they traveled, the things they did, and the faces they saw along the way. If you think you’d like to get your cat lady a pet camera for her furry friend you may want to check out the back of the book before wrapping it. There are all kinds of tips and resources that will get you started.

Does your modern cat lady also work with customer service and/or social media? She’ll appreciate opening up QR Codes Kill Kittens by Scott Stratten. Scott was named one of the top five social media influencers in the world by Forbes, and his author photo on the dust jacket includes an adorable black cat. Consider:

If you knew that your terrible business decisions could cost a kitten its life, would you still do it? Of course not. No one wants to hurt a kitten, and no one wants to damage their own business through easily avoidable mistakes. But the trick is knowing which things are the wrong things to do.QR Codes

That’s where this book shines. Using real-life examples and plenty of illustrations, your modern cat lady will learn just what ideas that might seem great are actually hurting her image, both online and in real life, or IRL if you’re nerdy like me. Give your modern cat lady this book and she’ll thank you. In hashtags.

This year we at the library are participating in a Secret Santa game. Whoever is my Secret Santa knows me pretty well. I’m still not sure if this is a coincidence or killer intuition. But on the day I planned to write this post I received this little gift.

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You don’t have to live life avoiding the cat lady stereotype. Embrace it. Own it. Be it. Love it. You can thank me in hashtags and/or catnip.

Twick or Tweet

Back in the seventies there was a lot of talk about the generation gap, the set of things that separates one generation from another. For example, my parents did not wear bell bottom jeans. I did. These jeans were one small part of the generation gap between me and my parents.

Music is another important part of the gap. As a child, I was defined by The Monkees, The Beatles and later The Boomtown Rats and Madness. My parents: Mitch Miller and George Jones.

In more recent times, technology has become perhaps the most important piece of the generation gap puzzle. It seems that kids these days are born knowing how to use devices that people of my generation can only stare at in wonder, waiting for them to open cans or launch a nuclear device.

As I approach my sixth decade (that’s age 50 for those of you who aren’t on top of the math thing), I’ve decided that I need to take a stand on what defines my personal generation gap. Thus, Twitter does not exist for me. Oh, I’ve used the MySpace and still use Facebook (while secretly hating it), but I have not and will never tweet.

But recently I’ve discovered books that use the limitations of social networking (i.e. how many characters can be in an entry) as a starting point. And this I find interesting. Setting a strict limitation and then trying to create art within that limitation is an exciting exercise.

And so, I leave you with a few titles, some twicks, some tweets.

The Ten, Make that Nine, Habits of very Organized People. Make that Ten: The Tweets of Steve Martin by Steve Martin 

Steve Martin is a generation older than I, but he decided to explore Twitter as a means of keeping his comedy chops sharp, of perhaps creating new material that he could use on his current bluegrass tour, and finally as a way of receiving funny responses from his followers. He has collected some of his tweets into a slim volume, perhaps a thirty minute read. It’s not the funniest book I’ve come across, but it is charming and fun to see how Mr. Martin used Twitter in perhaps a different way than most users, and how his usage evolved over time.

Eat Tweet: a Twitter Cookbook by Maureen Evans 

Yes Virginia, there is a Twitter cookbook. This collection of 1000 recipes follows the tweet format of 140 characters or less per entry, providing social networkers with a veritable feast of outstanding food. Betty Crocker, move over. But just a little bit; these recipes don’t take up much space.

Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less by Alexander Aciman 

The premise of this book is to synopsize literary classics in less than twenty tweets (making the maximum number of characters available 2800), with a sense of humor. This limitation forces long passages to be described succinctly. For example, from Tolkien’s The Hobbit: “Walking walking walking … Still walking – this is so boring!” Good for a chuckle or three.

iDrakula by Bekka Black 

Bekka Black’s iDrakula is a modernization of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The original text consisted of letters and diaries, and this update uses a similar format but with text messages, emails and Web browser screenshots. The story is not an exact retelling of Stoker’s classic, but Black sets an excellent tone with the opening text: “Renfield had a psychotic break. Carted off to Bellevue. More l8r.” An excellent addition to the Dracula canon.

For some more social networking inspired books, try the following:

Tweet Heart: a Novel in E-mails, Blogs, and Tweets by Elizabeth Rudnick
The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel by Daniel Sinker
Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros

Ron