My Own Crazy Cat Lady

Ever since I saw Michele Pfeiffer overpouring milk into her cats’ bowls in her portrayal of Selina Kyle, better known as Cat Woman in Tim Burton’s 1992 Batman Returns, I’ve admired crazy cat people. Cats are often perceived as being stuck up, devious and judgmental; a similar conjecture that women have been victim to since the dawn of time.

Cat Woman is a feminist symbol, embracing the opposition to the hierarchical system based on gender and monetary value. Selina’s alter ego is a response to the forces beyond her control. I never saw her as the antagonist. Batman is a male billionaire, so it seemed appropriate that he was the opposition. However, at that age, I was ignorant of the internal conversation of Cat Woman. I couldn’t wrap my head around her sense of alienation, and the neglect that society imposed on her, leading her to confide in felines. I only wanted to have as many cats as her—not considering the financial toll, the loss of a security deposit, and being taken to small courts for restitution.

My sister, Ariele, has never worried about that. She didn’t become a crazy cat lady by choice, nor did she commit to it because she was exhausted of society’s subjugation like Selina Kyle. She inherited the title from the kindness in her heart, a claim that has lost its comical whims thanks to the internet affirming the fact that a lot of us are crazy cat people — letting our Mark Twain shine through. In 2015, Ariele moved into an apartment complex in Norcross, already juggling two spastic dogs, and two aloof cats. Once settled in, she came across a lone orange cat who was timid, emaciated, and in dire need. Ariele began to feed him, leaving him be after she filled the bowl — peering through her window to make sure that he was eating. He quickly warmed up to her, using her patio as a living space. In due time, he warmed up to her house guests including myself. She named him Weasley, due to his resemblance to Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. However, Weasley wasn’t alone.

It’s as if he was sent to find food for the family in the face of dystopia. And he succeeded. He had an entire family, a massive one scattered across the complex. Week by week, more cats began to show up on Ariele’s porch — patiently waiting for food. There would be times where I was speaking to her on the phone, and she would abruptly say, “Hold on, I have to feed the cats.” I would ask her, ‘How many do you have now?’ She would respond by saying, “I don’t know.” She beat me to the punch by calling herself a crazy cat lady. Each time I would visit, I would meet another member of Weasley’s family. His mother with three legs, his father who looks like Ron Perlman, his grandfather who I call the Night King, and his countless siblings that all have assorted colors and markings. Providing for her neighbors isn’t the only virtuous thing that Ariele has done; she has saved several kittens in the complex.

One evening, she sent me a picture of what looked like a black hairball. She told me, “She came home and it was laying on her doorstep, injured.” The kitten was so new that she was afraid to touch her. The injuries it sustained included numerous gashes and one missing ear. It’s assumed that the neighborhood possum took the kitten’s ear with him, presumably before being confronted by three dozen cats. He hasn’t been seen ever since. My sister brought her back to health and after watching her progression, she couldn’t help but keep her as one of her own. That cat is now named Gigi — matching the dogs’ names of Tonks, Sirius Black, and Weasley (who is Gigi’s relative in some shape or form).

Ariele has been living at her apartment for four years, reaching the final form of a crazy cat lady — but she doesn’t mind nor should she. The uniformed attachment of “crazy cat lady” comes with a negative connotation, but why? Who likes people better than animals? How can we taunt those who act altruistically towards animals? They don’t cut you off in traffic without using a turn signal, use poor choice of words, or judge you for eating a quart of Bruster’s ice cream while watching a marathon of the First 48. No, they give you their undivided attention — wondering when you are going to feed them, pet them, play laser with them, or change their cat litter. They complete our lives as much as we do theirs. I think I’ll fully commit to the crazy cat life after seeing my sister’s devotion. Someday.