Why This Ossining Teacher, Volunteer is Proud to Be a ‘Crazy Cat Lady’

Vanessa Vaccaro is a crazy cat lady, and proud of it! And that’s despite the negative stereotypes that may come to mind when considering the term. Why? Because A.) she knows they are farty nonsense, and B.) she is saving the lives of animals who would otherwise be sent to New York City kill shelters.

Vaccaro35, volunteers for Posh Pets Rescue’s Westchester operation and provides rescued cats with a safe and loving foster home. She started volunteering in 2012 and serves as a Posh Pets Rescue Board Member and their Cat Director.

“I developed a love for cats, but there’s a stigma in society that calls us crazy cat ladies,” Vaccaro told Westchester Woman. “You don’t have to look or be a certain way to have this passion. You can get the work done and still have a job and still have a family.”

The "Crazy Cat Lady' action figure is sold at Amazon.com and Walmart. Credit: Amazon
The “Crazy Cat Lady’ action figure is sold at Amazon.com and Walmart. Credit: Amazon
The Simpsons' Dr. Eleanor Abernathy MD JD is a feminist who went to Yale and Harvard to become a lawyer and a doctor before burning out at age 32. Credit: Fox
The Simpsons’ Dr. Eleanor Abernathy is a feminist who went to Yale and Harvard to become a lawyer and a doctor before “burning out” at age 32. Credit: Fox

The stigma of being a “crazy cat lady” has caused feline-loving females to be associated with spinsterhood, being hyper-career-oriented, a hoarder, and even mentally unstable. But Vaccaro says being a “cat lady” is none of those things.

That’s why she’s looking to shut these negative stereotypes down. Vaccaro wants people to see cat ladies for what they really are: compassionate and dedicated stewards of some of Earth’s most vulnerable creatures.

Westchester Woman would call them angels. However, Vaccaro is too modest to admit this. But someone who juggles the public education of children, a marriage, AND saving furry lives is definitely superhuman in our book.

“It takes a lot of time trying to balance everything,” said Vaccaro. “It’s really challenging. It just became a whole new routine in my life. I would never give it up. Every time we can adopt out a cat, we are able to save another one’s life. That’s what keeps me going.”

Just one example of what a "cat lady" looks like. Credit: Vanessa Vaccaro
Just one example of what a ” crazy cat lady” looks like. Credit: Vanessa Vaccaro

Vaccaro, who lives in Eastchester with her husband and is a fifth-grade teacher in Ossining, is one of 20 households in Westchester that foster cats and dogs rescued from New York City shelters.

“We are saving most of these dogs and cats literally minutes before they are going to be euthanized,” said Vaccaro. “When they come to us, they are sick and scared.”

In addition to conducting shelter rescues and coordinating foster placement, Posh Pet Rescue also rotates cats in and out of eight cubbies housed at PetSmart in Greenburgh, where they host weekend adoption events. Their rescue operation, which started in New York City and expanded into Westchester, solely relies on donations and volunteers.

Between 20 and 40 people volunteer to clean out the PetSmart cubbies, socialize the cats, run adoption events, check adoption references, work on fundraising and marketing, and transport animals for the organization.

Transport selfie!
Transport selfie! Credit: Vanessa Vaccaro

Vaccaro has specific procedures to stay on top of providing foster care for most of Posh Pet Rescue’s Westchester cats, including how the cats are set up in a house, cleaning, and administering medicine.

Though Vaccaro says being a teacher and having a husband requires much of her time, she still sets some aside to make a difference in the lives of needy cats and dogs.

“I think that animals need us,” Vaccaro said. “They can’t take care of themselves. They can’t defend themselves, and it’s our job as humans to make a difference in the world for those who can’t speak for themselves. That’s why I do this, for the animals.”

Check out poshpetsrescue.org for a list of animals available for adoption and information on how to donate or volunteer.