Museum Director Chronicles Her Cat Lady Tendencies in a New Book
Published on October 11, 2012
Diane Lovejoy has 10 cats. Although she’s married, and doesn’t wear a tattered bathrobe during the day, she is a bona-fide (and self-described) “cat lady.”
In her new book, Cat Lady Chronicles, the publications director for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, recounts how she went from being an art book editor to a woman who is just crazy for kitties.
And that’s different from being a “crazy cat lady,” as Lovejoy likes to point out.
Vetstreet caught up with her to find out more about her family of felines — and what her husband really thinks about her obsession.
Q. How did you come to be the owner of 10 cats?
A. Diane Lovejoy: “I never dreamed that I would become a ‘cat lady,’ but then one day, in May 2000, I returned home from work to find an emaciated and wounded feline in our backyard. It appeared that he had been shot with a BB gun. I fell madly in love with the cat, who we named Lucius, and I must have heard that vintage song about ‘one is the loneliest number’ playing in my head. I could not stop at rescuing one cat, and aside from adopting one cat from a shelter, the other cats found me.”
Q. Why do you think you’re a cat person and not, say, a dog person?
A. “The calling to help creatures in need applies to both species, and it could well be that, in my next life, I will become a dog lady. For me, happenstance was destiny. Had I worked longer hours at the office on that fateful day in May 2000, I would not have met Lucius. But what I love about cats is their all-knowing silence, their laser-like focus, their no-hair-out-of-place grooming and their sweet dispositions — with the exception of Lucius, who is truly a (lovable) piece of work.
“Most people think of the ‘cat lady’ as the lonely, single, eccentric woman in the neighborhood with a million cats, and single women bemoan the term as a desperate future, as in ‘I hope I don’t end up as the cat lady.’ Why do cat ladies get such a bad rap?
“As I was writing my book, I thought a great deal about the term and its unkind stereotypes. I even hesitated at first to put ‘cat lady’ in the title of the book precisely because it carries so much baggage. I can’t say I have conducted an exhaustive survey of why this historically bad rap exists, but I hope modestly that my book might give the naysayers pause so that cat ladies get the praise they deserve for being nurturing, compassionate and committed people. A lady who is ‘crazy for cats’ and a ‘crazy cat lady’ are two different animals.”
Q. What’s your favorite breed of cat?
A. “Our cat Lydia is part Egyptian Mau, and she never ceases to fascinate me. But the majority of our rescue cats are domestic shorthairs. Long may they reign!”
Q. Do you think that you’re done collecting cats?
A. “I’m not sure that a collector ever feels truly sated! I continue to see so many stray cats in our neighborhood, and it is very difficult for me not to extend a helping hand to each one. I know that 10 cats are a lot, yet our feline family is situational rather than the result of out-of-control hoarding. That said, I think it is highly unlikely that, when the unbearably sad yet obviously inevitable day comes that we no longer have the ‘Lovejoy Ten,’ I will go on the hunt to find another 10. I will always have these cats in my mind, and I consider myself fortunate that my book essentially allows them to live forever in the present tense.”
Q. We have to ask: How does your husband feel about your feline family members?
A. “My husband worships our brood. He is a very gifted writer who should seriously consider penning his own memoir, I Am Cat Man.”