For donkey’s years the world has been under the misapprehension that there is a female of the human species who is obsessed with domestic cats, who keeps far too many of them, who is solitary, anxious and depressed, and has no friends. This is the so called ‘crazy cat lady’ and they don’t really exist. It’s a myth. So concludes the findings of a study carried out at the University Of California. Yes, nice, independent-minded woman do exist and some do like cats but they are to be praised not stigmatized.
I cannot, regrettably, find the study referred to on the website of the University Of California. However, is referred to in numerous new media websites today, 21 August 2019.
All the reports on news media use the same words as they been copied from one website to another. However, the gist of the study is very clear.
The study found no evidence to support the “cat lady” stereotype. The researchers found that cat owners (better described in my opinion as cat guardians or caretakers) do not suffer from conditions such as depression, anxiety (as self-reported) any more than other people.
The researchers concluded that cat owners are not typically people who are living alone, anxious and depressed, an image which is stereotypically painted all over the Internet by countless millions of websites.
In fact, the study found no evidence whatsoever that the “crazy cat lady” stereotype exist at all.
They suggested that it is a stigma upon cat owners and it is unfair because such a stigma is not attached to dog owners. In fact, quite the opposite occurs because dog owners are often viewed as healthy and that owning a dog is beneficial for human health because it motivates them to get out for extra physical activity.
The study refers to two Facebook findings which appear to support the stereotype of the crazy cat lady.
Firstly, Facebook published a report which claimed that people who posted photographs of cats on their website are more likely to be single than those people who uploaded pictures of dogs.
In addition, Facebook said that people who posted images of domestic cats hve 26 fewer Facebook friends than those people who uploaded images of dogs. Apparently the data for this information comes from 160,000 US Facebook users.
Sensitivity To Animal Distress
The research also pointed to what might be obvious to cat owners namely that both cat and dog owners were more sensitive than people without companion cats and dogs to the sounds that cats and dogs make when they are distressed. The obvious reason is that these people are more skilled at interacting with cats and dogs and have over the years of companion animal guardianship become far more attuned to the needs and wants of their companion animal and indeed to their emotions through their individual vocalisations. Apparently, this particular aspect of the research involved 561 people.