Gallery: 'Girls and Their Cats'
Few cultural sterotypes are as pervasive as the "Crazy Cat Lady" - the anti-social lonely woman, usually of a certain age, who lives her days shuttered away with a horde of felines. Photographer BriAnne Wills was tired of that type, and decided to combat it with positivity. In 2015, she started the "Girls and Their Cats" Instagram, as she writes on her website, "as a way to debunk the crazy cat lady stereotype and to showcase cat-owning women in a positive light." The idea was a hit (37K followers and counting), and Wills has turned it into a book, available now from Chronicle Books. She was kind enough to share some of its images, along with excerpts from the stories of these cat-loving women.
Rose Smith, Lola & Bandit
"I had no intentions of adopting two cats, but here I am four years later and have not regretted a single thing. They bring so much joy to my life and constantly make me laugh. I love their company and their weird personalities and habits. It amazes me how they’re SO different from each other when they’ve had the exact same life."
Laura Weiszer & Chester
"I used to work from home every day and I think Chester’s companionship had such a positive effect on my mood and mental health. For the first few years after I got him, my seasonal depression basically went away. Now I work as a freelance production designer and set decorator and I co-own a furniture and prop rental house called Betsu; I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with him, but we’re both always eager to cuddle when I get home."
Tiffany Wines & Athena
"I really wanted a dresser. One day during a cursory search of 'Craigslist Free' I found an ad seeking a new home for a cat. it didn’t contain much information aside from her name and that she had one blue eye and one green... Taking care of her is an integral part of taking care of myself, it fills me with warmth and purpose every day. I still don’t have a dresser but I do have the love of my life.”
Claudia Dockery & Buster
"The one thing my family never had was a cat since my brother was highly allergic. I was always really bummed that we couldn’t adopt one because I was super intrigued with pictures of artists with their cats like Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Khalo, and Patti Smith. Their cats seemed to be their muse, inspiration, and best friend, and I so badly wanted one as my own. When I moved out to NYC for college and to pursue my artistic endeavors, I met my boyfriend who is also a huge animal lover. However, he grew up with only cats, so he really pushed me to adopt one and helped me find Buster."
Christina Nguyen & Bentley
"I suffer from anxiety and just observing a living being who just wants to sleep, play and explore all the time makes you look at life differently. He’s either calm or playful and it makes me think if that’s all he needs to be content, I should try to do the same. Having a cat with me at all times when I’m home, definitely makes living alone very pleasant. He’s always sitting somewhere nearby, no matter where I am in the apartment, and that’s a really comforting feeling. Just petting him, cuddling with him, and hearing him purr will automatically calm me down."
CT Treibel, Amber Hurst Martin, & Jeremy
"When we first started dating, she treated Jeremy very cordially with a hello and a paw shake. She explained awhile later that she’d had two cats she absolutely loved growing up. Watching them both pass away after so many years together made her afraid of getting too close again. Secretly I knew there was no way that Jerry wouldn’t win her heart anyway and we’d only been living together a couple of weeks when I noticed that Jer would always curl up under Amber’s arm at bedtime. I was like, 'I get it man, she’s soft and she smells a lot better than me.'"
Aisha Awadallah, Tigger Oscar Wilde, Xena Warrior Princess & Alexander the Great
“I’ve been a cat person for as long as I can remember. I had the childhood companionship of the most regal and temperamental Burmese cat since I was a baby and have never really felt complete without a feline friend in my life. I like to think that I was a cat in a past life - I’ve always been drawn to them and am always that person at the party who’d rather hang out with the host’s cat than make the effort to interact with people. My three cats are all kind of reflections of me and represent the full spectrum of my personality and phases in my life. I’m an artist, natural introvert, and love creating a comforting and colorful home environment and these three eccentric furballs with their superfluous names and strong personalities are essential to it."
Maggie Freleng, Bandit & Daisy
"She is the best cat, and my best friend. She has been through everything with me. 10 moves, multiple partners, breakups, deaths. I couldn’t imagine life without her."
Tori Freedman & Onyx
"Onyx has the same routine every day: same food and treats that he loves and has been eating for years. He does not stray far from windows as they are his favorite place in the house. He loves people watching in the windows in the front of our house and can’t get enough of watching birds in the windows in the back of our house."
Ilana Kaplan & Pancake
"She’s the nicest cat I’ve ever owned; she doesn’t bite or claw, she quacks and doesn’t meow and she loves to loaf on your chest and spoon. Sadly she does not like to be held, but we’re working on it (two years later). At 5-years-old, she’s a perma-kitten. She literally still looks and acts like a sweet baby. She dips her paw daintily into her water instead of putting her face in a bowl. We have conversations. Last year when life got tough, Pancake was always there to give me a snuggle or a nose lick when I needed it. She’s my furry BFF."