Cat ladies aren’t crazy, according to UCLA study

Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Aug 22 · 5 min read
Lucy would randomly hop into laundry baskets. Sneaky or clean? (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

When my brother brought Lucy home, I stood there confused. He was fully aware that my parents and myself do not care for cats. But for some strange reason, he thought it was a good idea to bring her home after our cousin couldn’t take care of her. I vowed to stay as far away from this black and white feline as possible.

My brother’s cat Lucy (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

Lucy had other ideas. Every night when I went to sleep, I felt something crawling across my neck and flopping down. Lucy decided my neck was going to be her stomach pillow. I yanked her off of me, and she hit the ground. The next night, same deal. I moved her. She did it again. By the end of the week, I realized she was not going to give up. And she felt like a fur shawl. So I left her there. In the morning, I realized I had another problem. I needed to use the bathroom but did not want to wake up Lucy.

How did my restroom priorities become second in command to this cat’s sleeping arrangements?

How did I get here? How did my restroom priorities become second in command to this cat’s sleeping arrangements? But there I laid, holding myself together until she opened her eyes and quietly crawled off. And about three weeks into this napping escapade, Lucy didn’t hop up on my bed to sleep on my neck. I was concerned and went looking for her. She was in my brother’s room hanging out. The audacity.

Could I be turning into one of those crazy women who likes cats? Well, according to UCLA, “crazy cat ladies” aren’t really a thing. Still though, my loyalty has always been to dogs.

Wilson may have saved my life

When my brother moved out to live with his (then) girlfriend (now wife), I would randomly go pop in to see Lucy. I sympathized with my brother when Lucy turned up missing. We still have no idea whatever happened to that cat. Although I have a few guesses, we never saw her again. But I wasn’t a cat person anyway, so in my mind, it was time to shake it off.

About two decades later (this year), I became a dog sitter and dog walker. When I’d go into people’s homes that had dogs and cats, I’d dodge the cat completely and zoom straight to the dog. Similar to Lucy, the more uninterested I was in these cats, the more they circled me purring — probably wondering “Why is she so stuck up?”

I was ecstatic to have my first dog sitting adventure with a Golden Retriever named Professor. Unfortunately the owners had a black cat named Wilson. She was given leeway to run the streets all day and show up for lunchtime, and I was told I didn’t have to play with her. Thank you!

Meet Wilson, the cat who made Professor like me. (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

When I met Professor, he stared at me with a skeptical glance. Meanwhile Wilson walked right up to me and purred at my legs. I hoped this meet-n-greet would go better once it was just the three of us on my start date. But when I walked in the door, Professor looked even more irritated to see me there again. And I stopped at the door, worried. How was I going to dog sit if the dog looked like he would never let me feed him? I laid down the hashbrowns I had in my pocket, breathed deep and marched over to their food dishes. Professor let out a low growl. I started checking for the two nearest exits to run and hide behind, keeping my eyes on Professor.

Then here comes Wilson, who jumped up onto a table, purred and rubbed against me. Professor looked perplexed, glancing from Wilson to me and back again. And quietly he sat down and then laid down, still staring straight through me. Lucy circled between my legs and was just having the time of her life forming Figure 8s while I continued to prepare their food.

In that moment, I wondered, “Did this cat just save me from Professor kicking me out?” For the entirety of that sitting, Wilson hopped up on my chair or on my lap when she came in, greeting me every single time. And then she’d disappear for hours. Luckily Professor warmed up to me after we took a walk for the first time. He rubbed his head against my legs pretty firmly to “mark” me. And we were squared from there. But still, my heart warmed a bit to see Wilson cruise through the door after she was bored with running the streets. On the day I left, I made a point of snuggling up to Wilson and Professor. The expression on Wilson’s face was more or less, “No problem. You’re cool. Now go away. I’m sleeping.”

Luna, the evolution of Lucy

When I got a dog walking assignment for a senior dog named Loretta, I was honestly just wondering what in the world a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog looked like. The breed name alone is a mouthful. I walked in the door, and similar to Professor, Loretta looked unimpressed. She’d also had an accident all over the floor. While I smiled at the senior dog to let her know everything was OK, she just glanced at me and stayed near her floor pads. Then out came a gray ball of fur, purring near my ankles.

I scooted Luna, the cat, away to make sure she didn’t get into Loretta’s mess. At one point, Luna was just flat-out in my way. Without thinking much of it, I picked her up to move her into another room. And Luna scooted her way from my arms to my shoulders and around my neck. I had a flashback of Lucy.

Luna apparently felt like my shoulders and neck were a great place to hang out. (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

And just like that, Luna had me hooked. I walked Loretta about six or seven times that weekend. But I marched straight toward the door where Luna lived behind to let her circle the living room and hop around on boxes. (Luna’s door was closed because Loretta would eat Luna’s food if left unattended.) And every single time, Luna crawled up on me like a statue and hung out on my shoulders.

I’m not a “crazy cat lady,” and I’ll never own a cat. But I’ll be damned if I don’t understand why cat owners enjoy these warm bundles of shoulder shawls.

In memory of Lucy, wherever she is. By now, I’m sure she has passed away.

Doggone World

This “Doggone World” publication is for dog lovers, dog walkers, dog owners and all bark-related, feel-good activity.

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Written by

14-year journalist; freelance writer/editor (Upwork); Wag! dog walker; Rover dog sitter; Toastmasters member/3x officer; cohost of Do Not Submit;

Doggone World

This “Doggone World” publication is for dog lovers, dog walkers, dog owners and all bark-related, feel-good activity.

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