Going “cat-lady-crazy” in Lincoln

One of my favorite expressions is the adjective, “cat-lady-crazy.” It means a person is either a raving lunatic or is demonstrating a spectacular lack of judgment – sort of like a “crazy cat lady” who hordes 17 cats and claims them as dependents on her tax returns. Examples of how to use “cat-lady-crazy” in a sentence would include, “Wow, you really want to date Charlie Sheen? That’s cat-lady-crazy.” Or, “Did you hear that Chris and Victoria are getting a sixth cat? That’s freaking cat-lady-crazy.”

Yes, we really are getting a sixth cat. It’s not merely a part of my continuing efforts to demonstrate conclusively to the world that I have the judgment of a five year old, or my family’s continuing efforts to be sure that our house always exudes Eau de Cologne du Litter Box.  We actually have a good reason this time.

In May I shared with you the news that my mother-in-law, Sondra Blewer, had died suddenly in her Manhattan apartment and left behind four grieving daughters. She also left behind a grieving cat named Velvet – and I mean seriously grieving. The cat was already clothed entirely in black fur, but I think she would have worn a black lace mourning veil if we’d let her.

My wife found Velvet for her mother five years ago at the Addison County Humane Society. The two of us assured her mother that we would adopt Velvet if she died before the cat. Given Sondra Blewer’s seemingly robust health at 75, this seemed like a pretty safe bet. In hindsight, this was a “cat-lady-crazy” promise on our part: Velvet was two when my mother-in-law was 75. You do the math.

Now, my wife and I have not brought Velvet to Vermont just yet, which might be the best “cat-lady-crazy” part of this story. My mother-in-law always worked as an administrative assistant or secretary in non-profit organizations or schools that more or less closed for the summer. This way she could escape the Bataan Death March heat of New York City in July and August for the merely sweltering, sauna-like heat of northern New England. The Blewer family’s ancestral retreat is in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, and that is where my mother-in-law and her beloved Velvet would spend their summers.

So, remember those four grieving daughters? Although they live in Paris, Manhattan, the suburbs of Boston, and here in Lincoln, they have taken shifts in Sugar Hill this July and August so Velvet the cat didn’t miss out on her annual and much-anticipated summer vacation chasing down field mice and shrews in the high grass of Sugar Hill.

So it will not be until next month when Velvet will come to Vermont to join my wife and me and our five-member team of feline turd hockey all stars.

See what I mean? This whole thing is the very definition of “cat-lady-crazy.”

But I am actually a little pleased that we’re getting Velvet. First of all, she’s a sweet and playful cat. Second, she actually catches mice and thus might be able to teach the Vermont contingent a thing or two. Third, and best of all, she is a living, breathing reminder of my wonderful – and wonderfully eccentric – mother-in-law.

And, really, how much more difficult can it be to manage six cats than five? It’s not like my wife is allergic to them. Oh, wait: She is. (Big apologies to Dr. Edward F. Kent and the Timber Lane Asthma and Allergy Associates. Sorry we’re making your life a tad more difficult.)

I’ll keep you posted on how Velvet is fitting in with the rest of the tribe – and whether my wife and I are morphing from merely “cat-lady-crazy” into an actual crazy cat lady and her husband.

(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on August 14, 2011. His next novel, “The Night Strangers,” arrives on October 4, 2011.)


Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.

One thought on “Going “cat-lady-crazy” in Lincoln


    Was very sorry to read of the passing of both your mother-in-law and your Dad, however you have now joined the crazy cat people group. My son says if you have more friends than cats, you are O.K., since we have 6 also, {not planned but they are all rescues so what can we do} I will keep you in my thoughts and recommend you stock up on feline facial pheromone spray. As we have 5 that get along well and 1 that does not play well with others, it’s been a vet recommended God send. What fun they are! I do have moments when I think we are demented but everyday is a surprise, sometimes in you shoe. I can deal with turd hockey but shopping for barf colored carpet is a problem when they are all different colors. Have fun!

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