Seven (seven!!!) years ago, a friend of mine called me up and said, “I know your aparment complex doesn’t allow pets, but my mom just found a box of three four-week-old kittens. One has died, I’m taking one, and the other one needs a home. Will you take him?”
Even though my apartment complex did, indeed, forbid pets, I told her I’d come over to “take a look at” said four-week-old kitten to “see” if I’d “want” it. As if anyone with a soul is going to look at a four-week-old kitten and be like, “Nope, sorry, good luck not dying like your sibling did, pal.”
That’s how I ended up with my first cat. I named him Romeo, after the Shakespeare character, because he was loving to me and only me and was rather intense about it.
So Romeo and I spent a lovely five and a half years together as a team. Me and Romeo. Romeo and me. No other cats to distract my attention. All Romeo, all the time.
Until June of 2011.
One day, I had to stop by the house after work for something on my way to a meeting. So I zoomed home, ran up the steps toward my front door and, as I was running, caught a small, black fuzzy thing in the corner of my eye.
“Please don’t be a kitten,” I prayed.
It was a kitten. Of course it was a kitten. A freaking four-week-old kitten with an eye infection, teetering on the edge of life. Damnit.
I scooped up the little dying furball and ran inside. I tossed him at my poor, unsuspecting husband and said, “I’m sorry. I have a meeting to run to. Please do something about this.” And then I left.
A $70 vet bill later, we couldn’t just set this kitten free. So he was ours. We named him Hamlet, because “Romeo and Whiskers” just doesn’t sound right and he is dressed in all black and acts out in outlandish ways, much like his Shakespearean namesake.
So. That’s how we got Romeo and Hamlet. Normal, right? At that point, I wasn’t anywhere near crazy cat lady status. I was just a girl with two cats.
But you see, it didn’t stop there.
Since we took Hamlet in at such a young age, his mother began to hang around. Feeling quite sad for her, what with the loss of her only begotten son, we started to feed her. And so we named her Gertrude, after Hamlet’s mother in the actual play.
But then, other cats started to show up on our doorstep demanding food. Gertrude even took a suitor, whom we named Claudius. Okay, that’s cool, can’t fault a girl for shacking up right?
But then she got pregnant. Ugh. Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
So that makes two cats on the inside of our house (Romeo and Hamlet) and four outside.
Until Gertrude got pregnant again. By Claudius, we assume, but who knows. (Does it matter?!)
At that point, we just gave up and decided to name all future cats to come into our lives via this avenue as The Players.
Our friends thought we were nuts. When we went out of town, we’d have to have someone come feed Romeo and Hamlet, of course, but also the entire cat population in our neighborhood that we felt a heavy obligation to.
Someone once told me that I was an anomaly because I am, and I quote, “… the only crazy cat lady in existence who actually got married, too.” I don’t see why adopting every cat that crosses my path makes me “crazy” rather than “more loving than all of you, Selfish McSelfishpants”, but whatever. An anomaly I is, I suppose.
When I think of a crazy cat lady, I imagine her sitting in her house, talking in a high-pitched voice to one of her thousand felines, basking in the attention they give her simply because she refuses to leave her house lest one of them mews and goes unnoticed. She is up to her ankles in litter and Meow Mix, and the only thing she gets in return is the thunderous roar of simultaneous purrs and a coat of cat hair on her lap so thick she could knit a blanket with it.
She cannot move on from this life. She is invested now. Invested, it seems, in something that is really only a detriment, both physically and mentally.
As a I dabbled with cat lady-dom, I felt way too close to that image for comfort. The fact that I couldn’t take a trip out of town without taking the entire cat population into account was disheartening at best, frightening at worst.
Luckily (???) some people broke into our house and stole all of our stuff so we had to move, leaving Gertrude and the rest of them all to die, probably.
I tell you that story, not to draw attention to the fact that, when it comes to cats, I could probably benefit from some sort of psychoanalysis, but because I think there’s a little crazy cat lady in all of us.
Yesterday, I had lunch with my good friend Libby. We talked about a myriad of good things, but at one point in the conversation I found myself begging and pleading with her to stay my friend despite my new-found responsibilities surrounding motherhood.
“I just don’t want you guys to forget about me, you know? I mean I had a baby, which means I couldn’t hang out with you guys on Saturday night, so I’m worried that you’ll all forget about me…”
My insecurities were just zooming out of my mouth like a freight train.
“That’s so silly,” she reassured. “We’d never forget you. That’s just your crazy cat lady talking.”
Evidently, Libby refers to the voice inside one’s head that plays off of one’s insecurities, the voice that makes you feel like you’re not good enough the way you are and no one — except maybe your cats — will ever love you, is your crazy cat lady.
Ha. Despite the fact that she has to take a truck load of allergy medication before heading over to my house, that metaphor resonates with me more than she probably knew at the time.
Over the past several weeks, my crazy cat lady has been telling me that I’m going to be forgotten and replaced by my immediate circle of friends because I’m the only one with a kid. I’m the only one who, when invited out somewhere, has to take into account bedtimes and bathtimes and nursing times and if I’ll have the car seat or not, etc. etc. etc. My crazy cat lady wants me to believe that, because of all this, I’m less valued by my friends. I’m not the same Lindsay I was before, and they won’t love the new Lindsay. Or my kid.
My crazy cat lady doesn’t want me to leave the house. She wants me to stay where it’s comfortable, surrounded by a thousand cats (doubts, fears, insecurities) that bind me forever to a life of recluse. A life without reaching out, accepting love from other people who are real and honest and different. There is nothing beneficial from this thinking. Much like an actual cat lady, there is little return on this sort of thinking.
It’s all lies, of course. But the feelings are there regardless. My crazy cat lady is relentless.
What does your crazy cat lady tell you?