Thank you for Psychological Labels We Attribute to Eccentricities


My cat, Isabel, is a narcissist

This revelation comes to me as I watch her watch me. 

She is looking to me for a clue as to what she can get away with, how she should behave. 

It’s my fault. I named her Isabel, meaning a gift from God. She took it too literally. 

She doesn’t necessarily demonstrate that pesky, antagonistic arrogance so often prevalent with narcissism, yet, it is apparent to me, she is afflicted with a lack of personal identity. 

She seeks her own reflection in the vast lake that is me. 

When I am not available as a source to draw upon for reflection, she just sleeps. 

She hates to be alone.

She waits in suspended animation for her source to arrive so she will know she is hungry or needs to be petted.

She is convinced that her needs are top priority and anything else I have to do is simply inconvenient. I am merely the lake that reflects Isabel.

Isabel can be very verbal, but her vocabulary is limited to Me, Me , and Me Ow.

I do not get the sense she is aware of my feelings when she demands from me. 

It makes no difference whether I am tired or preoccupied. 

She is coercive in her agenda to monopolize my attention.

If I am reading, she will poke her head up between the book and my field of vision,  “Me ow”.

If I am preparing dinner for myself, she charges to her bowl in the kitchen, “Me! Me ow”.

Yes, Isabel is definitely a narcissist. Her personal boundaries are narrow in scope.

She is fixed upon her own reflection in my eyes. 

I sometimes mistake this for love.

She will frequently watch me, which I interpret as interest in my person. Nope.

She’s just seeking direction for her next course of action, “Should I try to jump on the countertop? Does my reflection want me to attempt a little scratching on the furniture? Should I roll over and glance adoringly to get a pet on the head?”

Before I realized Isabel was a narcissist, life was simpler. 

We played together. I tossed a toy, she chased it. I rubbed her belly, she purred. I sat at my desk, she curled up in my lap. 

I truly believed we had a reciprocal relationship. 

Now, everything has changed.

Now, I know who she really is. She is me, supplanted. 

I find this disturbing.


My cat, Isabel, is depressed. 

She sleeps constantly and does not appear to enjoy outside activities.

If I get her carrying case to take her to the vet, she will resist and hide under the sofa to be left alone.

She has a tendency to isolate and is not interested in others.

Her appetite remains consistent but in the last three years she has experienced a weight gain of two pounds.

Isabel can appear aloof and apathetic toward events and people in her environment.

She will remain curled up in her bed, even if there is a party going on.

She responds to external stimuli only intermittently.

If I pick up one of her toys to engage her in play, she generally yawns and walks away.

When  I encourage her to exercise by taking a walk with me, she will gradually wander off  to find a place to nap.

Isabel demonstrates no interest in exerting or asserting herself. 

She has reduced her interests to eating and sleeping.

Occasionally, she will participate in physical activity but it is only with much rattling of toys, shaking of catnip, or coaxing a piece of string across the floor. 

Afterward she will retreat to her bed again, for another nap.

I find this disturbing.


My cat, Isabel, is bipolar (manic depressive).

She is erratic in her behavior. 

It is almost as though she is two different cats. 

At times, she is sweet, adoring, mellow and loves to be held.

Other times, she is maniacal, running through the house like a silver bullet on amphetamines.

During those periods, she will swat at anything that moves. 

She becomes easily distracted by outside noises and will freeze in place, a crazed look in her eyes, until she finds the source of the noise. 

She will sit at the window, chattering at birds who cannot possibly comprehend her threatening posture and language.

When she is experiencing her mellow side, she appears very reasonable.

I find it easier to interact with her at these times, when she seems present. 

She sits in my lap, purring or she curls up next to me in a chair, content with having her chin scratched and her ears rubbed. 

She will loll around the house, as if she has all the time in the world.

She explores the book case, peeks under the bed, and lackadaisically pokes her nose under the cedar chest, looking for nothing in particular.

Then, without warning, she will suddenly charge into another room, leaving the corner of the persian rug in disarray as she scurries off  with no apparent provocation.

At these times I just stay out of her way, clinging to any semblance of rationality she may have left behind. 

She will charge from room to room, jump out from behind furniture, chase down a piece of ribbon, toss it into the air, and pin it to the floor. 

Her maniacal side is frightening, unfamiliar. 

She seems to think she is indestructible at this time.

She makes poor behavioral choices. 

For example, she will run so fast that she plows into her own food bowl, scattering Whiskas all over the floor.

Then, without any sign of forewarning, she will calmly walk over to where I’m standing.  

She will meow sweetly, roll over with her paws in the air and beg to be petted as if nothing ever happened at all.

I find this disturbing.


My cat, Isabel, has an addictive personality disorder.

It is with great trepidation that I broach this subject. 

I do not want to make her uncomfortable, but I feel she needs to address the problem.

It began when a friend brought her a special treat. It was called Whisker lickins (salmon flavor).

At first, Isabel did not seem interested. 

My friend was insistent, tapping on the floor with a cooing voice. The tapping sucked Isabel in. 

She strolled over to my friend and gently extracted the fish-shaped Whisker Lickin from the treacherous fingers with her tiny, raspy tongue.

That was just the beginning.

Another friend, who considers himself an organic gardener, brought over…catnip.

Isabel made a complete fool of herself. 

She buried her little face in the organic version of herbal moonshine and inhaled until her kitty cat lungs were full.

Intoxicated, she rolled over and showed the gardener her belly without a shred of dignity.

Of course, these first two incidents seemed innocuous and without malice for a potential addict, but there is always a price extracted from this kind of exposure.

Eventually, I was scurrying to the pet store in search of Whisker Lickins. 

My friend only brought one bag, and naturally, that one was free.

I had to find another source for catnip as well. The gardener supply wilted.

It’s true, I have a codependent nature but that issue will be addressed after rehab and an intensive twelve step program for my cat.

Isabel probably has underlying causes for these addictions. 

I am certain this is merely a symptom of  a deeper issue, but we will have to cope with one thing at a time.

Presently, I am down to two Whisker Lickins and some dried out catnip from the local organic grocery store.

Isabel is pacing next to the cupboard. She knows it’s in there.

She will become obsequious. She will rub her head against my ankle until she gets what she wants.

I find this disturbing.


My cat, Isabel, has obsessive compulsive disorder.

She is far too meticulous in her grooming habits. 

She will lick her paws, wash her face, and continue to wash every inch if her furry body in ritualistic obsession.

She performs this task exactly the same every time.

It never matters where she is, if she is inducted into her compulsion to start washing.

She will begin with her paws, her face, her body, until every hair is clean.

Few things can get her attention at this time. 

If she is inadvertently distracted by an insect or a sound, she will look up and return to her ritual, exactly where she left off until she’s finished.

Sometimes this ritual can affect her daily routine and survival instincts. 

If she is in the middle of hunting down a june bug and the compulsion comes over her, she has to stop the entire chase to lick.

First her paws, then her face, etc.

This makes me wonder how she would survive in the wild.

What if she was being chased by starving hyenas? 

Would her compulsion take over, prevent her from finding refuge, as she just had to stop in the middle of an open field to start with her paws, her face,…

Washing is not her only ritual. 

She also touches everything with her cheek. 

Every piece of furniture in my house has her cheek mark on it. 

She doesn’t just touch things once. She touches them every time she passes the same object. 

She appears to have a time reference for these cheek touching rituals. 

It’s almost as if she is counting the moments between touches after she marks each item.

She will return to the first item and start over again after she deems enough time has passed. 

Isabel appears unaware of these obsessions but if she is interrupted, she can not seem to focus on anything else until she goes back and finishes the ritual.

I find this disturbing.


~ by leakelley on November 12, 2008.

3 Responses to “Thank you for Psychological Labels We Attribute to Eccentricities”

  1. I have never heard a more accurate description of a cat. My husband swears our Luther is bipolar. Now I see he is not alone in such thoughts. I identified with every line of this. Cats are all of the above. We could never afford a shrink!

  2. I’m a cat-person myself 🙂

  3. You just described both of my cats!

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