Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Being a Crazy Cat Lady

The term 'crazy cat lady' has been around for a while, and poplarized in The Simpsons.  It represents a specific stereotype of a somewhat single older woman with large numbers of semi-feral cats that she feeds precariously and does not effectively clean up after them. Having large numbers of cats in this kind of condition often is a form of animal hoarding, related to obsessive-compulsive behavior. There was even marketed an action figure of a crazy cat lady.

The stereotype almost always involves a middle-aged female. But why are the possible concepts 'crazy cat gentleman' or 'crazy cat couple' not also floating around? 

And why does no one refer to 'crazy dog lady' or 'crazy dog couple'?

Anyway, how many cats constitutes animal hoarding? From what I've read, five cats is seen as a possible dividing line; but this allows for some wiggle room. For example, are the cats well-fed and comfortable? Are the surroundings neat and clean? Is the caretaker able to live comfortably, without undue noise or odors and be able to have a normal life? If so, no problem. The bounds of obsessive-compulsive behavior are somewhat flexible.

And what if the person in question is trying to save or revive an endangered breed of cats? Obviously, these might not be seen as animal hoarders; but as protectors of endangered breeds. Or even geneticists.

Here's Dr. Lyudmilla Trut, a Russian geneticist who continued the work in domesticating the Russian domesticated red fox. Following a line of research by Dmitri Belyaev, she was able to breed over time a subvariety of fox that looked and acted more like dogs than their wild counterparts. Since her interest was genetic, she should in no way be called a 'crazy fox lady,' or simply a 'foxy lady.' Indeed, Dr. Trut has been involved in a classic, ongoing breeding study that broke some new ground on genetics and environment. Her research needs to be more widely known than is currently the case.

As a bonus, she wound up with cuddly, serious dog-like foxes that are totally adorable!


TexWisGirl said...

well, not sure about domesticating the foxes, but as long as you can afford appropriate care (vet, neutering, feeding, meds, etc.) i say, go for however many pets you can support.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Yes, it's all in the genes. A percentage of wild animals have a "pussy" gene that makes them docile and suitable pets. But it's only a small percentage, so the Russian geneticist must have disposed of a lot of wild foxes in creating the pussified version. As for cats, I think they all turn into pussies if humans stroke them when they're kittens.

John A Hill said...

I'm thinking that my daughter would love one of those foxes!

Jeffrey Scott said...

I've seen that crazy cat lady action figure sold online. I always thought it would be fun to purchase if I saw it in the store. I don't think the term 'crazy' should apply to anyone as long as, as you mention, the animals are kept after, clean and not a living hazard. Then keep as many as you feel comfortable with.
I think that is cool what Dr. Lyudmilla has done. Though I wonder if she could answer this question, "What does the fox say"?

Mike said...

There was a PBS show awhile back about how dogs got domesticated. The fox lady was featured in it. She did generations of breeding by picking the most docile foxes. Not only did she get friendly foxes but they started changing color, just like dogs.

Youtube - This is not a very good video but you can jump to 29:30 and watch the fox segment.

Or you can watch the whole show on VIMEO which won't let you jump forward but it's a better video.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

I watch the video Mike mentioned; and it is pretty interesting.

Birgit said...

Ok so we have 5 cats....oh oh but we have a dog as well. . I like the fox...very well taken care of