The Cat Lady takes the player through the journey of a depressed suicidal woman named Susan Ashworth. After committing suicide, Susan was revived by the Queen of the Maggots to complete the mission of killing parasites with immortality as her weapon. As appropriately named the cat lady, the titular character has only cats as her friends initially until she met Mitzi Hunt, a troubled young woman who seeks revenge for her dead boyfriend.
The parasite theme is heavy within this game. A parasite is defined as an organism who exploits another without giving anything return. The targeted parasites in their own ways harm people in pursuit for their purposes. Depression, a disorder that zaps a person’s happiness and energy without benefitting the host draws similarities to parasitic concept. Each parasite represent different facets of depression. Facing each parasite takes Susan on a journey in defeating her depression.
Doctor X uses his position of power as an psychiatrist to target his patients for his artistic purposes. After he tortures and kills his patients, he remakes his patients as subjects in living paintings for his own appreciation. Vulnerability is addressed as mental health patients especially with depression, could easily be taken advantage of by a powerful, trusted expert or staff. The player is treated with the chapter depicting Susan in a hospital and being pushed in any direction by the whims of the hospital staff. Already in a fragile state of mind, it could be exacerbated by Susan’s treatment from the authorities. In the real world, abuse of mental health patients by staff in hospitals is indeed a possibility despite their assigned role in helping patients. After disposing of the doctor, Susan symbolically gains strength and self-confidence to take action in overcoming her depression.
The second and third parasites are husband and wife respectively. Both are cannibals and regularly consume cats as the husband works for pest control to collect cats for dinner. The wife is a jealous woman who is possessive of her husband and bleaches any woman who was the target of her husband’s sexual harassment. The pest control man and his wife are a dysfunctional bunch. Due to lack of understanding, depressed individuals could be said to have a dysfunctional relationship towards society due to its attitude in shunning and ridiculing depressed individuals. Susan was a reclusive woman whom others dubbed her crazy while at the same time she distrusted and avoided people as well. Susan had to overcome her lack of trust for people by enlisting help of Mitzi Hunt in order to initialize the defeat of her dysfunctional relationship with society. Furthermore, cannibalism represents the destruction of self due to nature of consuming of one’s own species. Avoiding people or society to the point of having a weak support system could lead to one’s self destruction due to weaker regulation or encouragement from individuals in adopting healthier behaviors. In Susan’s case, had she had a stronger network with her neighbors, her absence might have been noted beforehand instead of being overlooked.
Fourth parasite is a mysterious mute man who initially offers Susan flowers before hammering Susan and attempting to hang Mitzi. When bounded together in the bathtub, Susan divulges her past to Mitzi, leading a greeting understanding of the origin of her depression. 10 years ago, Susan was pursued by a stalker who frequently called her and sent her flowers while having to care for her and her husband’s baby during her maternity leave. During their argument, her baby died from exposure to pollen due to her rare pollen allergy. From what we learn from this flashback, it could be assumed that the fourth parasite is Susan’s past stalker who might have went insane from lack of reciprocation on Susan’s part. The past comes back to haunt the present indeed. Although not stated, it could be inferred that death of her baby and husband jumpstarted her depression. After confiding Mitzi about her past, Susan also symbolically disposes of her past by having the parasite mauled by her cats.
The last parasite is known as the Eye of Adam, who was known to use the internment to encourage suicides for individuals. Upon meeting him, Eye of Adam is actually a paralyzed man who could only control his eye, hence the name. Essentially, incapable and helpless to take care of his needs independently, he relies on the help from his father to care for him. Eye of Adam compensates his physical helplessness by being influentially powerful on a forum. Eye of Adam represents feelings of helplessness that could in depressed individuals who feel negatively about the future and feel powerless to change things.
Finally, the Queen of Maggots, rather being one of the several facets of depression, embodies Susan’s depression in general. For one so disdainful of parasites, Queen of Maggots is a parasite herself for she in her own words “come when there’s something to take” but “never give anything back”. Hints were present at the beginning when the Queen of Maggots state she has always been with Susan. The Queen of Maggots is manipulative in the same way that depression distorts the thoughts of individuals are tempted to give credence to the negative voice in their heads. As the Queen of the Maggots repeats Susan’s experiences to her, Susan finally stands up to the Queen of Maggots and stop giving her the power to manipulate her. In the end, Susan, finally on the road to recovery, never saw the Queen of Maggots again.
In the end, Susan’s mission on disposing the maggots is a journey on fighting against the points of depression in order to move on with her life and jumpstart her road to recovery.