The Crazy Cat Lady Test
Through careful observation, scientific measurements, consulting dozens of monographs on Crazy Cat Ladies, and making stuff up, I’ve developed a test that resolves this long-disputed question.
Please note that in this piece, as per the conventions of Crazy Cat Lady Studies, I will refer to all variations of over-the-top pet owners as “Crazy Cat Ladies,” or CCLs, because (a) most owners of multiple cats are, in fact, women, and (b) the phrase is common parlance. Regardless, the gender of the CCL is not relevant to the findings. Also, “cat” is shorthand for any large mammalian (i.e., non-caged) pet. Could be dogs, could be pot-bellied pigs, could be ferrets. Hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits do not count, as they are kept in cages. Any beast that is free to roam the house counts.
First, a key explanation of my theory's differentiation: CCL status is not a simple binary situation (CCL versus normal). Rather, there are three states: “Pet Owner,” “Borderline Case,” and “Crazy Cat Lady.”
To determine into which state you fall, here’s a back-of-the-envelope basic test:
- If the number of adults in the household is greater than or equal to the number of large mammalian pets, the people are Pet Owners.
- If the adult(s) are outnumbered by large mammalian pets by one, the people are Borderline Cases.
- If the adult(s) are outnumbered by two or more, the people are Crazy Cat Ladies.
- No matter how large the house or how many adults live in it, five or more large mammals indicates a Crazy Cat Household.*
One exception to this rule:
- If the household is in the countryside and the animals roam over large spaces, the formulation does not apply. A key aspect of CCL-ism is the confining of several animals within a single house.
I’m not sure how children would factor into the equation. For now I discount them entirely, as a two-parent family with three kids having four cats would strike me as a Crazy Cat House. But that's just an educated guess. Determining the precise figures is for future generations of Crazy Cat Lady scientists.
Also, the intensity of Cat Craziness is a separate issue. Dear friends of mine in a nearby city have three cats and two dogs. They are Crazy Pet People without a doubt. Yet the only manifestation of Pet Overload is loose fur on everything and the occasional cat underfoot. Other Crazy Cat Ladies of my experience are downright unsettling.
This test is not designed to assess the level of Crazy Cat issues, merely their existence. The most widely accepted measurement of CCL Levels, the "Mister Bootsy-Binkums-Woo-Woo Scale," though developed in 1957 and found in even the most basic textbooks on Crazy Cat Ladies, is still the tool of choice for that task. The MBBWWS is a classic for a reason.
*An exception may be possible for very, very large houses, since my research indicates that “cat-per-square-foot” is the true issue. Yet “cat-per-capita” is also vital, and may mitigate the effect of vast houses.
If my Genius Grant from the MacArthur Foundation comes through, I’ll be able to return to my research and answer these questions definitively.