The Crazy Cat Lady stereotype is, fingers crossed, on its way out. Thanks to mainstream events like CatConLA and the ongoing, preternatural popularity of cats on the internet, cats carry less baggage as a second-best pet these days.
Mayim Bialik wants to help further the cause. She’s working with PetSmart Charities on its #meowOUT Yourself campaign, a photo-sharing contest and project to bolster the image of cat fans. At CatConLA earlier this month, Bialik spoke about the project and asked cat people to post pictures of themselves with their cats and use hashtag #meowOUT in order to obliterate outdated stereotypes about cat people.
“The Crazy Cat Lady is still culturally represented, still something to poke fun about,” Bialik says of the old notion. “A lot of that sort of spinstery, sitting at home with your creepy cat alone, is just not what most cat owners look like.”
She thinks the myth persists because it’s an easy shorthand way to describe an odd pet-person. “There’s not really an equivalent for dogs so I think it’s taken over as the weird stereotype of pet ownership.”
Bialik herself has two cats, Esau and Frances, and is incredibly well-rounded: she acts on a Top 10 network TV series, holds a PhD. in neuroscience, advocates for animals and is a mom of two. She could be the right person at the right time to push out the old myth.
“Having adopted a cat, [Mayim] understands,” says Julie White of PetSmart Charities.
“People were energized by her speech.”
The overall goal of #meowOUT Yourself is to increase cat adoptions at shelters. PetSmart Charities’ research shows that negative stereotypes about cats and their caretakers prevent people from adopting cats, and far fewer cats than dogs eventually find homes.
“A lot of people hear that cats are aloof and not good adoptions candidates but it’s just not true,” White says. “There’s a personality to fit each person.
“People from all different backgrounds have cats, and we’re not crazy cat people because we have cats,” White says.
Get into the image-shattering and share a picture of you and your cat on Twitter, Instagram or at PetSmart Charities’ contest page with the hashtag #meowOUT for a chance to become the face of today’s cat. After Jul. 3, Bialik will choose five of her favorites to be featured in PetSmart Charities’ promo materials.