WOMEN

Stunning Photos Finally Give Cat Ladies Their Due

Mee-yow 😻

The "crazy cat lady" trope is nothing new. For some reason, cats often serve as an indicator of a lifetime of spinsterhood for single women. But fashion photographer BriAnne Wills is using a photo project to kill the trope, and celebrate beautiful women and their equally beautiful feline friends.

Being a cat lady never looked so damn appealing.

Girls and Their Cats is an Instagram account which features photo after photo of woman and cat(s) during various parts of their daily routines: reading, applying lipstick, painting and, of course, cuddling. 

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."

A photo posted by Girls and Their Cats (@girlsandtheircats) on

Wills told The Huffington Post that she started the project after moving to New York City and expanding her social and professional networks via her photography. What was meant to be a photo series of nude women in their apartments turned into an entirely new project. 

"While I was photographing my first nude subject, her cat appeared in the shot and I thought it made a much more interesting picture," Wills said. "That's when I changed the direction of the project and Girls and Their Cats emerged."

I'm back from vacation and ready to bring you more girls and their cats! 🐈 Janine and Mia Wallace in Bushwick for #girlsandtheircats. @fgboss "I adopted Mia out of a cardboard box outside of a popular Bushwick taqueria right before a thunderstorm on July 4th weekend in 2014. I had just walked out of the subway swamped with no hands and 'carried' her on my chest back to my apartment. Already a dog owner, I was hesitant to keep her without knowing how my Boston terrier, Bodie, would react to her or she to him. After I convinced my boyfriend (and myself) we would foster and adopt her out to a loving home, she and Bodie had instantly bonded and I realized we were never going to give her away. We've been a family of four ever since. Formally we named her Mia Wallace, of Pulp Fiction fame, for her short black bob and crisp white coat. She is incredibly petite with a black heart shaped spot on her head and a trail of 4 black spots, the last one - her black tail as if it was just popped on when she was born. Mia is like a cat-dog and runs to you at the door instead of running away. She is super sweet, insanely playful, very curious and superman strong! For leisure and playtime, she is all over her cat condo, a towering 6-foot tall cat tree purchased by my brother aka 'her favorite uncle'. She sleeps on our bed at night right next to Bodie and I can't imagine not rescuing her or bringing her home that day in July. It's like she's always been ours. Love her so much!!!!!!" Janine is the co-founder of @flossgloss All photos by BriAnne Wills #happyfriday #cats #miawallace #flossgloss #catsofinstagram #adoptdontshop #bushwick

A photo posted by Girls and Their Cats (@girlsandtheircats) on

Wills also told HuffPost that after meeting so many women who owned cats (and who made fabulous photography subjects), she wanted to change the idea that having a cat makes a woman the "recluse type." 

"I set out to show cat ladies in a positive light," she said. 

Alexis and Claude in Crown Heights for #girlsandtheircats @alexischarleyann "I got Mr. Claude in 2008 from a shelter when he was about 3 months old. As the other cats meowed and fought for attention, he sat quietly in the corner shivering. They informed me that he may be suffering from cat laryngitis and may never meow. They tried to push "healthier" kittens on me, but he was the one that wanted. To this day, he still does not meow. Mr. Claude is by far my best friend. He has traveled from Florida to NYC with me, has seen me through many breakups and job failures. And in July 2013, probably the hottest summer I have ever experienced, I helped him recover from "death's grip." At the time I was living in the Lower East Side in a 5 story walk up with no a/c unit – it’s no joke, heat literally rises. Mr. Claude had been acting kind of sluggish. I blamed it on the record breaking heat and my recent change in relationship status. My boyfriend of about 4 years moved out earlier that week and I thought, like a great friend that he was, Mr. Claude was mimicking my displays of heartache. We would lie lethargically on the couch together, when I cried he would hollow too. I did not become concerned until I realized that he was not drinking his water and there was blood in his litter box. Worried that he was severely dehydrated, I decided to try and force feed him pedialyte through a bottle. This was a bad idea – Mr. Claude let out a painstaking cry and passed out. Horrified, I hailed a cab 11 blocks to The Village Veterinarian. The Vet informed me that Mr. Claude’s bladder had exploded due to a large kidney stone that was preventing him from peeing. The Vet said it was possible that he may die. I lost my shit and hysterically begged the Vet to save him. I never thought I'd ever find myself in the position of agreeing to a $2,500 life-saving “sex change” for my cat, but the thought of possibly losing my buddy was absolutely unfathomable. Long story short, after weeks at the Vet, Mr. Claude recovered gracefully. My friends now joke and call him Miss Claudette." All photos by BriAnne Wills #adoptdontshop #catlady #catlover #lifesaver #catsofinstagram #catmom

A photo posted by Girls and Their Cats (@girlsandtheircats) on

"Foxy came into my life in April 2016 thanks to my friend Morika, who is a veterinarian. Foxy had been brought into her clinic, pregnant, and without an owner. Nobody knew her story, but they could tell she was just over a year old. KITTENS HAVING KITTENS! Ah, the madness of it all. Her kittens were not brought into this world - the doctors chose to abort the pregnancy because they already had a collection of homeless cats there in cages. Luckily the pregnancy was very very early. She took to my apartment instantly, and cuddled me in bed the very first night. It's been over a month now, and she's successfully been trained to pee and poo in my toilet....no litter box in this house! I highly recommend the @CitiKitty System for $24 on Amazon..it works! I'm home all day 7 days a week, because I work at home as a painter: www.IrisScottFineArt.com. For work I oil paint - actually finger paint - using gloves rather than brushes. She's so new I haven't designed a painting about her, but it's certainly in the cards. When she curls into a ball she looks like a sleeping fox in my lap. On work days she's either laying in my lap while I'm at my computer, or underfoot when I'm at the easel. Foxy stays out of the paint and is overall just a perfect little house companion. Yesterday her leash/harness arrived via Amazon. I've been watching YouTube videos about how to leash-train a cat. It's doable, but you have to ease into it and use lots of treats! Pretty soon I'll be able to take her on walks. Foxy has enriched my life, and my work environment has never felt so complete. I love my Foxy." @irisscottart Iris and Foxy in Clinton Hill for #girlsandtheircats. All photos by BriAnne Wills #adoptdontshop #catlover #catmom #catsofinstagram #aspca #catlady #kittens #painter #artist

A photo posted by Girls and Their Cats (@girlsandtheircats) on

The intimate photos are paired with equally intimate captions. The women featured share stories about adopting their cats, and how their cats have changed their lives. And though Wills has already photographed 111 women, she has every intention of continuing the project.

"I don't think I can ever stop," she said. She hopes to take the project -- which currently only features women and cat pairs in New York City -- on the road. "I'm hoping to turn it into a book at some point," she told HuffPost. "I think it would make a great coffee table book."

On top of producing beautiful photos, the project has one other fantastic benefit: "If it also encourages people to adopt cats," Wills said. "Even better." 

HuffPost

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