BriAnne Wills is a Brooklyn-based fashion photographer who moved to New York with her husband and two rescue cats. "Girls and their cats" is a photo series created by BriAnne as a way to showcase cat-owning women in a positive light. She's photographed over 180 women so far. Here are some of their stories.
Erica Prince & Boofy
"I grew up with cats- our somewhat socially inept cat named Camouflage chose me to be her human when I was 5 years old- she lived in my room exclusively and I fell asleep with her on top of me every night throughout my childhood. As a young woman, I was always waiting until my life was "together" enough to get a cat. I had a long-term boyfriend who was a hoarder and we had planned to get a cat together. We talked about it for years but the environment just didn't feel right, and this was one of the warning signs that eventually led to us splitting. As a reaction to that messy breakup I decided I was ready to be a single cat mom.
There were so many cats at the shelter but Boofy stood out. He was incorrectly marked as a girl and he had a really horrible name which I shall never speak aloud, but I held him and he just melted into my arms. I knew my life was forever changed. When I first adopted Boofy he was about 4 years old and really really fat. I actually named him Buford because I thought he was big and dignified, but it quickly evolved to Boofy because it turns out he's a bit clumsier and more baby-ish than I'd originally thought.
Boofy loves to be carried around the house like a baby, or used as a pillow while reading or watching TV. He is very malleable and generally puts up with anything as long as you are paying attention to him. His best friend (or boyfriend?) is a Muppet-like puppet named Poofy that looks exactly like him. He's not very interested in playing unless you are throwing treats or ham, or he's playing with a half-dead mouse, which he likes to gift to us in bed in the middle of the night. Boofy's personality is legendary amongst our friends, and we often have people tell us that they've always wanted a cat just like him.
Chelsea Trout & Mushu
"I began fostering with the NYCACC in the beginning of 2014. It was my junior year in college, and I felt simultaneously compelled to begin volunteering again and severe separation anxiety from having a pet. It was a fairly quick progression into fostering kittens for me. I started fostering 1-2 kittens every few months, and quickly escalated to 2-3 on rotation — as soon as one set would leave, I'd ask to foster another.
Fast-forward two years and about 30 kittens later, I found myself living with my boyfriend in our first apartment. It took a little persuading to get him fully onboard with my obsession. Almost a year into our lease, I accepted a request to foster two "singletons," (the name they used for any young kittens that were without a litter). One, Reed, was an adorable little fluffball only about 5 weeks old. The other, Alipha, was a bit older, at maybe 9 weeks, and reportedly needed a little more socialization to get over her shyness. I looked at Alipha as my personal challenge, because I took pride in taking foster kittens in and sending them back to the shelter as extremely people-friendly and of healthy weight.
I eventually found myself giving the shelter excuses as to why it was too soon to send them back to the shelter to be taken to adoption events. "I don't think Alipha has had enough time to fully get past her shyness," I'd tell the foster coordinators. Meanwhile, Alipha turned out to be a cat that would not soon grow out of her habits. But I simply couldn't part with Reed — who we had begun calling Mushu. I don't remember the exact moment it was decided, but I woke up one day knowing I wasn't sending Mushu to any adoption events. It was July 31, 2016 when the adoption was finalized. Mushu is still the greatest companion and friend I have ever known. He's extremely verbal and even talks back when you ask him questions! He's water-obsessed and will sit perched on the kitchen sink waiting for water to come out of the faucet. He welcomes people at the door, and has such a distinct personality that friends have often said he's "not like other cats" they've met.
Ana Coccioletti & Tabitha Potato
"I grew up with cats but took a break after my sweet childhood cat passed away a few years ago. It took a *very* influential visit to a cat cafe in Tokyo to get me thinking about cats again. My boyfriend surprised me with baby Tabitha Potato after a month of back and forth kitten pics. Tabitha Potato is a sweet and curious little cat. (She believes) she has full reign of my apartment and is still figuring out her place with her Old English Sheepdog sister, Aiko. Despite having not one but two water dishes, T Potato only likes Aiko's. She enjoys sleeping on faces, pouncing on dust bunnies and following me around my apartment. Her favorite human food to steal is parmesan cheese, but any aged cheese will do. She is Potato, Sweet Potato, Tabby Tato and Tater. She is the best cat friend a girl could have."
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