reframing the “crazy cat lady” stereotype


photo by antonia digiacomo // model: gwendolyn goebelt

When you hear the phrase “crazy cat lady” I am sure a certain image pops into your head. An older single woman, maybe in a sweater, surrounded by a room full of cats. Yet, the truth is, this “crazy” woman is probably saner than most of us; it has been proven that cats act as emotional support animals in many ways and are beneficial to your mental health


Heightened awareness of this known fact has led to an increase in animal ownership among college students, especially cats. The increased need for emotional support can be accredited to many things in our modern society like social media and the constant pressure that is felt in your early twenties. Not only is it helpful to have a furry friend around to depend on in times of stress, but according to Catnip Times, it has also been proven that cat purring has healing frequencies. Writer Chelsy Ranard states:


“A cat’s purr can not only lower stress it can also help labored breathing, lower blood pressure, help heal infections, and even heal bones. For some it can be difficult to legitimize the positive effects on mental health that a cat can offer. But studies have shown and proven the physical effects are real.” 

photo by antonia digiacomo // model: gwendolyn goebelt

College students are faced with countless things that could cause them stress such as deadlines, finances, friendship or relationship problems and much more. Knowing that you have a companion to come back to after all the conflict that life has to offer is comforting and can ease some of the stress. 


Klare Smith, a junior studying to become an ultrasound technician, has a lot going on between her laborious school work and hectic personal life, but the one thing that takes away from the chaos of everyday life is her cat, Tuna. 


“Having a cat definitely helped my mental health, like when you are in your bed by yourself it is not like you are alone, you have a little friend there with you,” Smith said. “If you are sad they pick up on that and they purposefully try and cuddle you and help you feel better.”

photo by antonia digiacomo // model: gwendolyn goebelt

Smith recommends being a cat owner to everyone, but especially to college students. 


“Cats are not as difficult as dogs to take care of, which makes it easier for students,” Smith said. “They will help with your mental health and you always have a little companion there to help you through the hard stuff.” 


Preserving your mental health throughout college is a challenge. It is easy to lose sight of priorities when there are so many things grappling for your attention. Yet, sometimes the best solution is to just be present for a moment and ground yourself. Licensed social worker Margo Davis says emotional support animals are perfect for this. 


“In many cases that I have worked with, clients benefit from rhythm to ground them,” Davis said. “Whether that be petting the animal or just feeling the support and the bond that they might not feel from those in their family or those in the community.” 

photo by antonia digiacomo // model: gwendolyn goebelt

According to Davis, there are a multitude of reasons that animals decrease stress rates within humans. 


“What we know about humans is that we respond well to a specific rhythm, whether that be when you are a baby and you are being rocked for self-soothing, anything that you are doing on one side of the body you are doing it to the other as well,” Davis said. “So with an animal, you can pet with both sides of the body which offers a sense of soothing to you.” 

photo by antonia digiacomo // model: gwendolyn goebelt

As a licensed professional, Davis also agrees that having a cat could be a great coping mechanism for the things that college students have to deal with. 


“Absolutely for college kids having an animal to support you would be a nice, wonderful tool. For everyday life, 100% an emotional support animal would be beneficial,” Davis said.

photo by antonia digiacomo // model: gwendolyn goebelt

Although the stereotypes about having cats paint the owners as lonely lunatics, being a cat owner makes you the opposite of “crazy.” In hectic seasons of life, it is important to ground yourself and taking care of a cat gives you the perfect opportunity to do so.

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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.