Just A Few Beautiful Photos Of Some Really Cool Cat Ladies

Fashion and beauty photographer BriAnne Wills first encountered the 'cat lady' stereotype when she was 13 years old. "I started watching The Simpsons for the first time. They had the crazy cat lady character, Eleanor Abernathy, who was a mentally ill hoarder and always had several cats clinging to her."

Even if you’re not a fan of The Simpsons, you’ll be familiar with the image. The word 'crazy' has long been used to describe women (single women, in particular) who have furry felines for pets and lingers in the lexicon as an idly accepted cultural reference. "I couldn’t understand the portrayal at first because I had grown up in a very cat-positive household," BriAnne added. "But it dawned on me eventually that this is how many people saw cat-owning women."

Cat lovers know the truth of the matter, though. There’s absolutely nothing 'crazy' about having cats. In fact, there’s something really beautiful about it. Starting out as an Instagram photo series of the "cutest cat ladies and their feline companions," Girls and Their Cats has now evolved into a wonderful photography book full of portraits and profiles of 50 women – artists, entrepreneurs, writers and activists – and their furry sidekicks. In it, BriAnne flips the cat lady stereotype on its head and celebrates the cool cat women of the world and their funny, affectionate, sweet relationships with their pets.

"Our relationship is symbiotic. Cats give us what we need and vice versa, and we don’t take anything more. We respect each other and sometimes even learn from each other," BriAnne explains. She has two cats, Tuck and Liza. Tuck is a black and white tuxedo who loves attention and wags his tail like a dog when he’s excited. Liza is a brown tabby, a mama’s girl with a thing for vegan cheese. "From what I’ve read, women and cats have been connected since the days of the Salem witch trials. I don’t think that special connection has necessarily changed, but the perceptions around it have – only slightly however, and more so for the women who have cats. Many of us women don’t feel as much shame around having cats because there’s a larger number of us supporting each other – thanks to the internet."

Click through to meet some of the incredible women (and cats) BriAnne encountered as she pulled this project together.

Girls and Their Cats by BriAnne Wills, with Elyse Moody (Chronicle Books, $25.95)

Aisha Awadallah
Artist, model and doula in training

"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."

Aisha Awadallah and Alex. Photographed by Brianne Wills

Anka Lavriv with Petey and Hoomie
Tattoo artist and co-owner of Black Iris Tattoo

"About six years ago, I got my very first studio apartment with no roommates and decided that I finally had my act together enough to get my own cat. A friend of mine worked at a pet-grooming place in New Jersey, and sometimes the people there rescued cats and found them homes. She sent me photos of multiple cats. As soon as I saw this tiny orange fluff ball, I immediately claimed him for myself."

Photographed by Brianne Wills

Ariana Bindman & Mona

"I'm convinced that Mona is basically Posh Spice. She's dismissive to other cats, her black-to-grey ombré is nicer than mine and her facial expression wavers between annoyed and unimpressed. Much like Victoria Beckham, she's a misunderstood diva, and for that I love her."

Photographed by Brianne Wills

JiaJia Fei & Coco
Digital director

"Since she was only four months old, Coco has grown up in my Carroll Gardens apartment, living a cosy life of naps and deep cuddling. In many ways, she’s also grown to fit the stereotype of pets who resemble their owners. Her black-and-white look pairs perfectly with my deliberately monochromatic wardrobe and bedroom, where she spends about 90 percent of her time."

Photographed by Brianne Wills

Rikkí Wright & Cairo

"One day in 2013 a friend of mine posted a photo of her cat on Instagram, saying she was giving him away. I fell in love with that photo and instantly sent her a message to tell her I wanted him."

Photographed by Brianne Wills

Sam Ushiro & Sabbath
Founder of DIY/lifestyle website

"I never considered having a cat before I met her, and honestly, I still wouldn’t, because the only cat for me is Sabbath. My favorite thing to tell people is how she has her own special chair in the living room where she sits and watches everything, like a queen on her throne, keeping the court in order."

Photographed by Brianne Wills

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