Meet the Photographer Behind Girls and their Cats!
The introverted, oddball characteristics associated with cat ladies are stereotypes of the past. Whether promoting their love of felines through their celebrity status or just posting about their cats’ adorable antics on social media, today’s “cat ladies” are powerful, creative, beautiful, driven, fabulous, fun… The list of superlatives goes on and on! Championing this spirit, BriAnne Wills, a New York City-based photographer, documents the special relationship between women and their fur babies in her photo series, “Girls and Their Cats.” You can follow her work on her website or popular Instagram account, which already boasts 13.5K followers!
We were lucky enough to interview Wills about her rising photo series and the amazing qualities of cat moms in general. We hope you enjoy her insights as much as we did!
When did you first realize that you were a cat lady?
I think I really owned the term “cat lady” when I started this project. I’ve had cats all my life though, so it wasn’t that difficult to embrace.
Do you have cats of your own?
Yes, two cats. One tuxedo kitty called Tuck (not intentional) and one brown tabby cat called Liza. They are both from Ukraine, where my husband and I rescued them as kittens.
Do you think that having a cat can kind of, in its own way, feel like being a parent?
I can’t compare being a cat mom to being a mother of a human child, because I don’t have first-hand experience. My sister, however, who is a mom, tells me that some situations are very much alike. For example, recently I came home and saw my dried flowers torn to shreds and scattered all over the floor. My sister made the comment that it was just like something her kid would do!
I love my cats a lot, and worry about them, and want the best for them, and LOVE spoiling them. I think cats are just very low-maintenance versions of toddlers.
How long have you been running Girls and Their Cats and what inspired you to launch it?
I started it in the winter of 2014 after having just moved to New York City. Originally, I intended it to be a series of nudes, but when photographing my first nude woman, her beautiful cat jumped in the shot and I photographed the two of them together.
Once I saw the images, I realized it would make a much more interesting series. Additionally, after investigating further, I saw that no one had tackled this subject. There were projects about people and cats, artists and cats, men with cats, but no projects focused on interesting and cool cat ladies. So, I decided to change direction and give cat ladies their due.
Girls and Their Cats successfully challenges the negative stereotype of a “Cat Lady.” How would you define today’s “Cat Lady”?
A cat lady is a woman who already has a pretty great life and just wants to share it with a special furry friend.
How do you find such pawsome women to interview?
Most are referrals. Cat ladies I’ve photographed will often recommend their friends, but every once in a while, I’ll hold castings. Right now, I’m looking for interesting women in the arts who are 50+ years old. I always accept applications and my website has directions for how to be seriously considered. I am a bit backed up with those and it takes me a while to respond.
Do we see a “Guys and Their Cats” in the future?
I think it’s great that there are men who own cats, but I’m not really interested in changing focus anytime soon. Plus, I think there is already a photographer who has a book focused on cat-owning men.
What are some of the biggest takeaways and experiences you’ve had since running Girls and Their Cats?
Many cat ladies were not “cat people” in the beginning… But cats have a way of slowly, but surely, earning your affection. Also, the women I’ve photographed are some of the warmest, most creative, interesting, and driven people I’ve ever met. I feel very lucky to know them.
Any tips for getting fussy cats to pose for the camera?
Cats are difficult models! I usually recommend having cat treats on hand to keep them interested. I also have a noisy cat toy near my camera that I shake when I want them to look at me. In the end, basically, I just have to let them do their thing. We do our best to work around them.