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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f73a140000WMUK's weekly show on the literary community in Southwest Michigan. Between The Lines previously aired on Fridays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Between the Lines: "Crazy" Cat Lady

Leonard Campbell

How many cats must you have before you're considered a "crazy cat lady?" Or a hoarder? And why aren’t there "crazy cat gentlemen?" Or are there? These are questions Janet Vormittag answers in her new book, You Might Be a Crazy Cat Lady If…

“Oh, there are crazy cat gentlemen, too,” Vormittag says. “They may just not admit to it as readily.”

Vormittag, who lives in the Grand Rapids area, is an animal advocate who puts her passion into her work. She is the editor and publisher of the free publication, Cats and Dogs: A Magazine Devoted to Companion Animals, distributed throughout west Michigan. It features animals up for adoption and promotes the spaying and neutering of pets.

A conversation with Janet Vormittag

Vormittag is also the author of Dog 281, a suspense novel about a stolen dog set in Michigan, and its sequel, More than a Number.

Credit Janet Vormittag

Asked how many cats she has, Vormittag just smiles. She hasn’t even revealed the number to her boyfriend (who had the good grace not to ask). Finally, she says: 13. They're a mix of foster cats with whom she quickly fell in love and couldn’t let go, adopted cats, and even a feral cat or two. The latter often resisted her loving kindness with tooth and claw but, at last, gratefully gave in. Her story about taming a feral cat, "Wild Cat I Think You Love Me," was published in The Ultimate Cat Lover 2008.

In You Might Be a Crazy Cat Lady If…, Vormittag shares funny and often heartwarming stories about 20 of her cats. Lucy is partially paralyzed but loves hunting for mice. Buddy has an eating disorder. Then there's Frosty Flake, the foster cat that won a permanent home with Vormittag. And Geo, who has a paper fetish. Maggie was left behind when the neighbors moved away. Buddy and Boots live in the barn, joining the barn cat family. And so on. All are irresistible.

You might think losing a lot of cats over the years would not affect Vormittag too deeply. But she says the opposite is true. Grief over each death hits her hard. Vormittag tried a support group for people who've lost pets but it wasn’t what she expected. She found that our animal companions can fill a void in our lives and become as dear to us as any other family member. When a contributor wrote a column about her grief at losing her dog for Vormittag’s magazine, Cats and Dogs, the response was great.

“I made that a permanent column,” she says. “So many pet owners could identify.”

While some consider people with lots of cats crazy, Vormittag argues for compassion instead. As long as the pets are well cared for, spayed or neutered, numbers don’t count.

Vormittag has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University and was a correspondent for the Grand Rapids Press for ten years. She's a founding member of Great Lakes Authors.

Listen to WMUK's Between the Lines every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.

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Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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