I type this with an overly affectionate large brown tabby and white Maine Coon called Bonnie who is feeling pregnant and hormonal, perched on my left arm and shoulder, burying her head into my hair and nibbling on my neck. Bonnie’s great-grandsire, Bugger, lies nearby, supervising all of my laptop usage.
As a breeder of the magnificent Maine Coon Cat, I wonder if others see me as a crazy cat lady. Other cat breeders, probably not. They understand that in order to produce kittens, one needs to have more than two cats. Okay, technically you just need an intact male and female which makes two, but in order to have a breeding program, there needs to be a plan beyond your first litter. You keep a kitten to carry on, but who do you breed that one to if all you have is the kitten’s mom and dad? This ain’t West Virginia folks. We study things like inbreeding coefficients to steer away from too much of a good thing with shared DNA.
But to others; the “normal” people who regard more than two cats as too many, am I a crazy cat lady to them? For those without any pets, your opinion doesn’t count. That would be like a non-parent criticizing someone else’s children. You know who I’m talking about.
The words Crazy Cat Lady do not project a positive image. It’s intended to be an insult even though I know cat fanciers who embrace the term proudly. Frumpy, unmarried, overweight, talks obsessively about her cats as if they are children who talk back. Maybe she’s a hoarder, the ultimate image of a crazy cat lady gone over the top. They do exist; I see them at cat shows along with all the other “regular” cat exhibitors, but they are the minority.
An equestrian, jogger, college graduate, human resources manager, a wife, a sister and daughter, a mother of two grown kids with Celiac Disease; is that who I am or who I was? Well, I’m still a wife, daughter and sister and I’ll always be a mother. In my mind, I am 20 pounds lighter and not hampered by exercise-induced asthma. I can still ride a horse, but seldom get the opportunity these days. Perhaps I’m a novice paralegal, supporting her husband’s new solo law practice, but not having enough to do yet.
Certainly we identify people by their jobs more than anything else which is why I sometimes feel like I need a better label than cat breeder. I cringe when I’m introduced as a Maine Coon breeder to those outside the cat fancy. The first question that follows is, “How many cats do you have?” to which there is no good answer for the average person. Then I feel compelled to explain that I also show my cats, I’m a responsible breeder and the kittens are so popular that I’ll never have enough to meet the demand (and yet I’ll barely break even after all is said and done for them).
At the local cat shows, I often meet followers, my “stalkers” as I affectionately call them. These are the people who light up when they recognize my name or my cattery on the show cage sign, then they tell me how they’ve watched my website for years, read my blog, and/or follow my cattery on Facebook. That’s pretty cool, I admit.
Career-wise, I’ve been little more than a homemaker/stay-at-home Mom/housewife the past several years. That’s another label I never thought would apply to me; homemaker. I was going to have a career AND a family. However, reality, divorce, remarriage, a recession and children who needed me took over. Life happened and my plans were put on hold for so long I no longer have the desire to figure out what they are anymore. The one plan I had some control over was breeding Maine Coons.
Maybe it’s the sum of what we do that matters more than the labels given us. I do still fit in my jeans, but not the way I’d like to. I do pottery, but I’m not a ceramics artist. I am very sarcastic, but I’m not a comedian. I do sing pretty well, but not at Karaoke. I do take back and rehome any cats or kittens I sell if the owner can no longer keep them, but I don't take in strays simply because I have to keep my numbers down. I do enjoy cooking these days, but I am not a chef. I do write a blog, but I haven’t written a book (yet). I do try to stay in my children’s lives and consider myself a good mom. I do break out into song at any cue, but not as annoyingly so as my siblings. I do enjoy travelling to foreign lands for vacation or just for the weekend at a cat show, but I love coming home and hanging with the hubby. I do continue to be a passionate animal lover, but recognize my pets are not “like my children”. I do have a wonderful following of cat lovers and kitten buyers who appreciate me and my cats. I do breed and show Maine Coons, but I am not a crazy cat lady.