Updated: Apr 30
Today, I'm going to show you how my cats changed my mindset of cats. The result - starting the Cats are Family campaign.
We're also joined by 40 other cat families who will provide their thoughts on the matter.
Photo (above): Piper, the Bengal kitten with Cat mum. Photo captured by me (Keefe), Sydney Cat Photographer, Furry Munchkins Pet Photography.
A bit about me
Growing up, I've always seen myself as a dog person. Don't get me wrong, I loved all animals. But, I always saw dogs as the golden child of the pet world. They were loving, kind, patient creatures, each with their own personalities. At least that's what I learned from the movies.
I saw cats in a different way. I grew up in Singapore. Walking through the streets there, you would see many stray cats wandering around. These cats would often hang around cafes, ice cream trucks waiting for food. They only ever came up to you if they thought you might offer them some of your lunch.
The only interaction that I had with cats as pets were with my Aunty. She had three cats who she loved. When we came over, her cats would hide away and we wouldn't see them for the rest of the night. At that young age, those interactions with cats made me believe that they were "aloof". They only came to you when they wanted something.
About my cats
Fast forward to today…I couldn't have been more wrong. Sure, my 3 cats SOMETIMES make me feel like their human slave, but I never thought that Chai, Thyme, and Evan would have:
Their own unique personalities
A desire to be close to us
Their own specific ways of showing us and their siblings love and affection
A curiosity about what we were doing
And, I realized that many people didn't know that about cats either!
How I became an advocate for Cats are Family
My 3 cats transformed my world, for the better. They taught me that my family was already complete with them in it. I wanted to change the mindset about cats and cat ownership, much like my own growing up. And guess what? Many cat people I've talked to wanted the exact same thing!
There are 4 motivators behind this campaign:
To dispel fear and embarrassment that comes from admitting that we have a strong bond with our cats. There is a stigma to having a public bond with your cat that needs to change!
To provide love and compassion to cat families - We want to feel loved and accepted by others like everyone else! This campaign connects like-minded people who love cats.
To get rid of guilt - Lots of cat parents are guilty at some point about not caring for their cats in the best way possible. This campaign connects people to resources that tackle common cat-related problems and issues.
To allow cat families to share their proudest moments. They can share stories and photos depicting their amazing relationship with their cats.
Photo (above): Diego with his Cat Mum, Photo taken by @diegothepurrmachine
What I learned from talking to 40 other cat families on Instagram
Since January 2020, I reached out to over 40 cat families on Instagram to find out more about them. This is what I learned:
All considered their cats as part of their family (either as their kids or other parts of the family unit)
All felt that their cats meant the world to them
All could describe in detail what their cat's unique personalities were
45% of cat families consisted of more than one cat
60% of cat families had received negative comments (eg. being called a "Crazy Cat Lady") in one way or another about their love for their cats
All felt that the cats are family campaign was an important one.
Why does the world need to know that Cats can be part of the family?
People see cats as pests in some cultures and countries. While in others they're only pets. Many people, including myself, have been so wrong about cats. We limit their capacity to be more than pets because of the stigma that surrounds them. Unfortunately, this means that cats aren't treated and cared for in the way they should.
The goal of this campaign is to show everyone that cats can be part of the family. It provides a different perspective on cat ownership and the family unit. This campaign encourages all cat owners to build a relationship with their cat. To love, respect and work at growing this bond with them even when it's tough. Find out everything you need to know about the campaign here.
To laugh off the idea that cats can be part of the family or label someone as a "crazy cat lady" is wrong.
Photo (above): Piper and Solomon, two Bengal kittens enjoying the best chicken treats with Cat mum. Furry Munchkins Pet Photography.
How can you be a part of The Cat Family?
The truth is that I can't do this alone. If you consider your cats part of the family, then this is for you!
This is why I've teamed up with many cat families to get this started. We help cat parents who struggle to find like-minded people be connected with each other! Together, we can show the world that cats are part of the family too.
The best part? The more people realize that cats can be part of their family, the better they will learn to treat their cats. So here's the first step to making a difference to cats everywhere!