Animals

 

The Line Between Cat Fancy and Cat Crazy

ABCNEWS.COM | JOY CIARCIA-LEVY | 11/19/09

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Single. Female. Three Cats.

Red flag! For most people, the combo invites the label Cat Lady, says Christie Callan-Jones, a filmmaker.

Callan-Jones' latest documentary, "Cat Ladies," tells the stories of four women and their devotion to their cats. Elizabeth Vargas of ABC's "20/20" recently sat down with Callan-Jones to examine the unique relationship some women have with their feline companions.

For some of the women, pet ownership has turned into an obsession with cats, or an addiction to helping cats. But what made the women "cat ladies," Vargas found, was more than the number of cats the woman owned, be it three or 123. More influential was the emotional attachment between pet and owner.

The film began as an idea of Suzanne Mullett of Chocolate Box Entertainment. Jeannette Loakman and Sally Blake of Chocolate Box produced the film.

"About 10 years ago, I was being called a 'cat lady' -- mainly out of jest but with a hint of disdain," Mullett said. "At the time I was living with two other people and we had five cats in the household, two were mine, two were my roommate's and one was a friend of mine's who moved and couldn't take her cat with her. The term initially angered me because you could tell it wasn't a compliment. Then it started to intrigue me -- about where this term came from -- and I began to start seeing images and references [to] the 'cat lady' in the media all the time."

"The most common [cat lady type] is a female character," Mullett said. "Single of course, lamenting that she can never own a cat because once you have one you won't be far away from being the cat lady of the neighborhood."

The "Cat Ladies" film crew interviewed hundreds of potential cat ladies and ultimately found four brave women, all from the Toronto area: Margot, Jenny, Diane and Sigi, who don't use last names in the film.

Margot

Margot has three cats -- Bongo, Fritz and Little One. They are her entire world. When she wakes up in the morning, they are there to greet her with purrs and kisses. But as much as her devotion to her cats is a central part of her life, she is very lonely, very much in need of a friend, she says. Her relationship with her cats might be hindering her developing friendships with human beings.

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OK I admit it, I am a one of the cat ladies. I have more cats than I ever thought I would have (7) because of the animal rescue I'm ivolved with. I'm waiting for time and age to take it's natural course. It's a huge expense to take proper care of them.

I call it falling in love with falling in love. I warn people, there's always another cat to fall in love with. You have to find some way or someone to check yourself.

But horders do have a real mental disorder. They take in every stray, they don't spay or neuter and the numbers take off exponentially. It's very sad for everyone, especially the animals.

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I hate labels like this. I own 2 cats.. If I were able to have more I would! I volunteer at my local animal shelter and would take home as many as I could support financially. I choose to ignore this stereotype!

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