Beck Eleven: The crazy cat lady reports from Rarotonga
OPINION: Cat Ladying has been a respectable vocation for many years now.
In 2015, Siobhan Downes wrote a piece titled, How cat ladies have become cool in which I was quoted as saying: "The thing with being a crazy cat lady – or a crazy anything – is you just own it. If you own it, and you're confident enough to say you are, then who's going to knock you for it?"
Then men got in on the act.
This month, The Guardian featured an article, "Rise of the cat guy – man has a new best friend" which quoted a claim there had been a 25 per cent rise in cat ownership among UK men in the past year.
* Beck Eleven: The not so secret diary of a crazy cat lady
* My dating dilemma: Hi, I am a cat lady - wanna date?
* When cats upstage the scenery
Things hit peak hipster with an article in the New York Times Magazine featuring Puss Puss, the magazine every high-fashion cat lady needs on her coffee table.
I've never been sure it is fair-minded that the moniker "cat lady" has typically been prefixed by the word "crazy". Now I am.
Oh the things I have done to and for cats of Rarotonga, where my three weeks of island bliss are about to come to an end.
Sure, I have done some touristy things but I have also enjoyed collecting stray and not-so-stray cats, possibly in an effort to "replace" my own three cats who are languishing at a cattery wondering why I have abandoned them.
Here are just a few highlights. Sadly, this is not an exhaustive list:
1. I used my hairbrush on the cat that lives next to our rented house. We named her Suzanne. Apparently, her real name is Boris. Suzanne/ Boris looked like she could do with a ruffle-up. She purred and stretched herself out on a mat while I stared down at my own hand, which I couldn't quite believe was holding my own hairbrush as it ran its bristles through a stranger's cat fur. I then boiled my brush.
2. I made a DIY cat-chase toy using a shoelace and a leaf, which Suzanne/ Boris all but ignored.
3. One afternoon we had lunch next to a diseased-looking ginger specimen. Its body looked OK so I employed the one-fingered patting technique until I used a chopstick on the under-chin area.
4. Next, we moved to a fancy resort. The first night, I ordered a fish starter which I took back to my room in a doggy bag (ironically-named in this instance) so I could lure any roaming cats to my porch. Sure, I ate it myself but my presence had been noted in the feline community and one trotted into my room the following morning, promptly situating itself between me and the keyboard. The mark of a proper cat, worldwide.
This cat, Jasper, also got the hairbrush treatment but only using the handle because I'd gone off the idea of boiling my hairbrush.
5. I dampened a resort flannel to clean its eyes. Totally normal thing to do.
6. Once we had located three resort cats, I bought a can of tuna and had to withstand the shame of my holiday friend Paula requesting a can opener saying "we need it because she wants to open this can of tuna to feed a cat".
7. I had to hide my seething jealousy when a black-and-white cat, Alastair, jumped on Paula's knee and began drooling on her. This is not typically a good reason for jealousy.
8. We ordered a Hawaiian pizza but shortly after its arrival, we simply had a pineapple pizza because I'd picked out the ham and stashed it in my bag to feed any stand-in, stunt pets.
9. I bought a can of sardines and cat biscuits which I dutifully fed to two of the skinniest resort cats (Tiger and Alastair) on plates made of tropical leaves.
10. Jasper must have found out and I was thanked for my oversight in typical cat fashion, with a pile of cat sick on my porch.
11. Yesterday, Paula and I arrived back to our wee rented house where we played cards.
In the midst of pretending I'd got the hang of Euchre, I suddenly called, "here puss, puss, puss" in what is known as the Cat Falsetto.
Paula: "Did you see a cat?"
Me: "No, but if I call, one might come."
Paula: "OK. (then also in Cat Falsetto) 'Pud, pud, pud'."
Eventually we were rewarded for our actions and Suzanne/ Boris got the rest of the Whiskas.
It's probably time to come home.