Women who love their cats are usually put down and used as an example of the worst possible trajectory your life could take. (“You don’t want to die alone as a crazy cat lady, do you?”)
Thanks to social media, the normalcy (and awesomeness) of cat ladies can be seen in personal posts. While we usually just see celebrities like Taylor Swift being celebrated as single ladies who love their felines, an Instagram is helping to broaden our scope.
“Girls and Their Cats” is an original photo series by photographer BriAnne Wills, showing women and their cats. Think: a pet owner’s version of Humans of New York. Women are shown with their beloved kitties and share their stories of how they became part of the family.
Check out some of our favorites and check out the account for a lot more.
"My husband Brian and I used to live in this old loft building in Toronto called The Coffin Factory, that's what it was before people started living there. It was right next to this abattoir and around it there lived a colony of feral cats. They probably thrived from the waste of the pigs slaughtered there. They all looked tough as hell. Our dog wouldn't even go near them. One day my friend Agi and her boyfriend at the time had a new cat mom and her kittens arrive on their doorstep. A friend of theirs had found her and dropped her off. She was no doubt from the colony, a beautiful pale grey calico with exotic light green eyes and orange ringlets on her tail. They named her Nala. When the kittens were ready to find new homes, we thought we'd go take a look. I remember going down through the maze-like hallways of The Coffin Factory to her unit. There were 6 kittens and they were all nuts, one climbing on something, a couple napping on the couch, another chasing a toy across the floor, they were everywhere. I wasn't sure if we should get a cat since we travel and move around a lot, but Brian said "Of course we'll take one of the kittens, we'll make it work!" Ok, we're getting a kitten. I'm not sure which came first, his boss-like swagger or his name, Captain. Probably his name but he grew into it so well I can't imagine him as anything else. He's always liked to ride around on our shoulders, I think it comes from his nature of liking to be up high and perhaps escape our overly affectionate dog when he was too small to ward her off. He's a cat and can't help but do cat-like things, like wake us up when be wants food, showing a certain remorselessness when he chews on expensive computer cords, but behind those things there's something of higher being capable of great love and affection. Anyone who spends enough time with him falls completely in love. He tends to really affect people and share special moments with them. I feel very lucky that I get to be his cat mama." @annaagneta Anna and Captain in Bed-Stuy for #girlsandtheircats Anna is a model and musician. She plays guitar in a Canadian indie rock band called Dusted. #gingercat #caturday #orangecat
Divya and Fugazi for #girlsandtheircats (Fugazi was clearly done with the photos at this point 😂) @bloodyberrylicious "Before we adopted Fugazi, he hung out behind a pizzeria in Jersey. Which may explain why he goes crazy for our food whenever I'm eating cheese, olives, or anything seasoned with oregano. He's named after one of my favorite bands, Fugazi. When I first laid eyes on him 7 years ago, he was running around, chasing flies, and just being a scrappy little dude–so I thought the punk band reference would be appropriate. On that visit he also showed me that he knew how to take a stinky dump in his litter box, and he stepped in it right after, losing no confidence and pretending not to care–so of course I fell in love. My husband and I probably spend an hour each day playing with him, setting up cardboard box obstacle courses, or making him toys out of twine. He comes to the door whenever we come home, but is most definitely not a lap cat. I got Fugazi while I was going through a spell of depression and loneliness that I never thought would end, but taking care of him really motivated me to take care of myself and find some meaning in life. The first time I ever let my guard down completely was with this little guy, because other than scratching the wrong piece of furniture, a cat really isn't out to screw you over. We experienced an apartment fire when he was still really young. My downstairs neighbors were smoking in bed. Their apartment and the ones above and below were burning. The urgency of putting out the fire meant that the response team didn't put him in the carrier as per the pet notice on my door, but left the windows open, so I surely thought he escaped and went back to being wild. I saw his sooty paw prints all over the place and felt the churning loss of losing a loved one. I called his name in panic and heard the tiniest meow coming from my closet. He decided to hide out in there and shred up a vintage Chanel wool coat. I was the happiest lady in the world knowing he wasn't gone. Its cliche, but one quickly realizes that pets do so much for us and ask for so little in return. I can't picture my life before I had Fugazi."
Emily and Sullivan in Williamsburg for #girlsandtheircats @emmymarucci "Sully was born in north New Jersey, abandoned in a tiny well on a farm. He was 4 weeks old and I had to bottle feed him goats milk — now he's so huge — people are so shocked when they see him but I always think of him as a teeny lil spotted belly guy. Cats were always a constant in my life. My mom had a cat follow her home from a bar when she was young…she named the cat Gypsy and she lived for 20 years. My whole family has the word "gypsy" tattooed on us somewhere — she symbolized our family and how my parents always held us close but set us free — now all together our family has 4 cats. It would feel weird and unnatural not to have one around — it just makes sense to us. Where there's a home, there's a cat." Emily is a writer living in BK. All photos by BriAnne Wills #catlady #catlover #adoptdontshop #catsofinstagram #girls #tiger #interiors
Valentina, Bianca and Emilia in Bushwick for #girlsandtheircats. @valenteeny_x "I adopted Emilia as a rescue in 2008 from a shelter in the East Village. She was very young and had already been neutered, which may explain why her belly hair never really grew back. She's been my companion since then- getting through life with me. In 2012 I got pregnant. I was on my own at the time and I decided to move back to Italy to be with family for a while. Emilia flew back with me and we became even more inseparable. She used to sleep on my pregnant belly and that's when she established her bond with my daughter Bianca. The night I went into labor she was sleeping in Bianca's crib for the first time. As if she new the baby was coming and she was keeping the bed warm for her. The three of us are my family. We weren't complete until we brought Emilia back with us to NYC. The bed is our nest- our quiet time together. Emilia is very patient with Bianca and they are getting better with each other every day. Bianca calls her "my sister". A cats energy is calming and reinvigorating for my body and soul. I am blessed to be the mom of these two." All photos by BriAnne Wills #caturday #cats #moms #catsofinstagram #adoptdontshop #bushwick #catmom #childhood
Jillian and Minerva in Williamsburg for #girlsandtheircats @jillathrilla "My first year in New York City was the loneliest in my life. I was deeply depressed after a breakup, and was out of school and living in a new city as an adult with exactly one friend for the first time. My mom was allergic to fur when I was growing up, so we never had pets, though I desperately wanted one. I decided I could start fostering pets to help animals out and also give myself some much needed companionship. I fostered a beautiful white husky dog for a week, and Minerva was my second foster pal. She was a couple of months old, so playful and very affectionate. My heart swelled when she slept next to my head that first night. I decided to adopt her, and she's been my best friend for three years now. She loves to play fetch, greets me at the door every time I come home and follows me everywhere. And she still sleeps with me every night." Jillian is a writer at @timeoutnewyork All photos by BriAnne Wills #adoptdontshop #bestfriends #catlady #catlover #catsofinstagram
Anngillian and Moxie in Astoria for #girlsandtheircats. @remotedestroyer 🐈🐈🐈 "Moxie is 1 of 2 kittens that were found in my aunt's backyard. It really starts with their mama; a cute tiny street cat that we named Lucy. We fed her daily. My mom realized that she was pregnant, so we fed her religiously and made a shelter for her in the yard. She actually had the kittens in a neighbor's yard and unfortunately one died. Moxie and his brother were found in our yard. My younger sister hung around before she decided to bring them in the house. Two years ago, I was on my way home and my sister texts me something about getting kitten milk. We called shelters to see if they had any available mother cats at shelters and it was just a dead end, so we decided to keep them. We spent our entire summer taking care of them! It was tiresome and awesome. I was dealing with a severe bout of depression at the time and put all of my energy into raising them with my sister. It really was a life changing experience for me. Moxie now lives with me and my boyfriend in Astoria. He went from living with 2 other cats (Hikari and Maximilian) to being the only 1 and he's still transitioning. Hopefully, I can get him a playmate soon." All photos by BriAnne Wills #catlady #catlover #adoptdontshop #blackcat #blackcatappreciationday #catsofinstagram