5 London Gals Giving The Cat-Lady Stereotype A Run For Its Money

We’re not sure whether we have Grumpy Cat’s grimace, Choupette Lagerfeld’s mystique, or Charlotte Olympia’s Kitty flats to thank, but cats are having a major moment right now.
Don’t get us wrong; felines have long been ruling the homes of some of the world’s chicest women for years. Grace Coddington’s obsession with her bundles of fluff even extends to her hiring process – reportedly, a fondness for cats is a must in future assistants. And who can forget Holly Golightly's long-suffering "Cat." But now, the next generation of editors, stylists, and bloggers are making cats cooler than ever.
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From a fashion director to an angel investor helping create London’s first-ever cat café, we chat to five stylish women who are turning the cat-lady stereotype on its head.
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Emilia Reid and Honey
Producer and director Emilia Reid is one to watch. She’s just released her directorial debut, a short film called The Dinner Party, starring Hugh Bonneville – watch out for it on the festival circuit – and is working on several other films. She also acts, models (life isn’t fair), and is a cat mother to Honey the Burmese, yet to make her screen debut.

When and why did you decide to get Honey?
"We decided to get her at the end of last year. We had a gorgeous family cat who sadly died of old age a few years ago and we didn’t want to replace her straight away. Now was just the right time."

What are your favourite combined pastimes?
"Honey is a bit like a dog in her level of affection and also in the fact that she likes to play fetch, which I have never seen before in a cat. It's bizarre!"

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Has Honey ever expressed a love for fashion and/or film?
"Haha no, Honey’s only interest in clothes is pulling laundry off drying frames. And whenever she gets tired of running around she will fall asleep on me when I watch a film."

What is her favourite film? And what’s yours?
"A tough question for someone who works in film! There are so many, but The House of Sand and Fog had the most profound affect on me of any film I've ever watched. Sir Ben Kingsley puts in a stunning performance. My stand out film from the last couple of years is Drive and I will watch anything with Meryl Streep."

What’s on the new-season wish list for you and Honey?
"Anything from the Mario Testino for Mate collection is on my wish list! It’s all so beautiful and colourful. And a McQ Alexander McQueen leather jacket."

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Might we see Honey make a cameo appearance in the near future?
"I've been trying to convince my co-producer and writer of The Dinner Party to write a part for Honey in the next short film, but she's not having any of it!"
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Ursula Lake, Benny, Oscar, and Harry
Ursula Lake has a career as cool as her name. With ten years in the biz, she has styled for the likes of Sunday Times Style, InStyle, Wallpaper*, and the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine, where she spent seven years as fashion editor. She has been running super-cool swimwear label Violet Lake since 2011, and is now fashion director at new online fashion magazine, Never Underdressed. She shares her home with her family and three cats, Benny, Oscar, and Harry.

Tell me about your latest gig, at Never Underdressed?
"I am now working as Fashion Director of Never Underdressed which is very exciting. It's super fast paced due to the style of the site and the fact that we update the site all the time. But I get bored easily so it suits me to be busy! My role here is to organise the fashion team, style about 50% of the shoots that go live and commission out some other stories too. It’s really rewarding working on a launch and after a number of years in the business, I have learnt a huge amount in the past few months since I started here."
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What about your three cats, Benny, Oscar, and Harry? How did you find them and what breeds and ages are they?
"Harry (Harriet) and Oscar are both rescue cats from Battersea dogs and cats home. We got Harry, a chic, black and white ‘tuxedo’ moggie, as a kitten and Oscar is an epic ginger Tom with a fabulous stripy tail – we got him when he was about one. Benny is the latest addition who happened by accident as I met a couple at a wedding whose Bengal cat had just had a litter of kittens and I am afraid I couldn’t resist. He is half farm cat, half Bengal and he has a lot of Bengal traits like his chattiness and also his amazing spotted tummy and almost lynx like ears!"

Have Benny, Oscar, or Harry ever expressed a love for fashion? And have you ever been tempted to style them?
"Not really, but Oscar used to be quite involved when I had an office at home. He would often pull dresses off hangers so he could make beds out of them and was once found in the midst of a Vivienne Westwood ballgown. I used to have to de-fur all my samples! They have all had collars at one time or another and I always tried to make them look as chic as possible, but basically they hate them so they never lasted long."

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What is on the new-season wish list for you (and your cats)?
"Too much! I am a huge fan of Lanvin and could gladly have that whole collection. The cats, so far, have not expressed an opinion."

Cats are often loved by fashion folk — why do you think that is?
"I think it’s their independence. We work long hours and are often away and so we need a pet that can cope with that. My cats are always a bit annoyed with me before and after a trip (they sit on my suitcases before a trip and sulk when I return) but they soon get over it. Also I spend hours in front of a computer and it’s nice to have one or more cats curled up in my lap while I work. I love all animals, but cats really fit with my lifestyle."

Speaking of Grace Coddington, apparently she gives assistants the "cat test." before she hires them. How important is it to you that potential employees are cat people?
"My current assistant is actually allergic to cats and often I set her off sneezing even though she hasn’t been anywhere near them. We joke she is allergic to me. If they were working from my home it might be more important though!"

Have Benny, Oscar and Harry ever appeared in a shoot?
"Sadly no, I once took Benny to a shoot when he was a baby and he hated it. Cried and cried and cried so I had to take him home again. Oscar is the most gregarious and amenable of our cats - and very beautiful too – so he would probably be quite good, but the opportunity has never arisen. Not yet!"

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Laetitia Wajnapel and Brak
Laetitia Wajnapel is as far from the cat-lady stereotype as you can get. The seriously cool, Parisian-born writer and columnist for How To Spend It also works as a DJ and editorial consultant, as well running her hugely successful blog, MademoiselleRobot.com. With a penchant for Peter Pan collars, knee-high socks, and stuff with cats on it, she’s very much our kind of girl. She has a cat called Brak, who is fast becoming our number-one reason for loving Instagram’s new video feature.

You have many strings to your bow — tell us a bit about what you do.
"I do a lot of things, although I guess I would say my main occupation is writing. My blog comes first of course! For the past three to four years I've been working as an Editorial consultant and I've contributed to Glamour, VICE, The Huffington Post, and currently have a column in How To Spend It. I love writing so the more I do it the happier I am! Plus it means I get to be home and spend some quality time with Brak, because let's face it he is the boss."
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When and where did you first meet Brak?
"When I decided I wanted to stay in London for good, I also thought it was time for me to get a pet cat. I love cats. I basically just read the whole of Gumtree, on the hunt for a kitten or grown cat and suddenly a photo just jumped at me. It was a picture of a black and white kitten who looked really REALLY sad just sitting on a sofa. I called immediately and asked to go see him. The people who were giving him away said they had to get rid of him as their son was allergic. When I set foot in their house, I was shocked by the level of filth. They had about four dogs, a terrarium with various reptiles, and worse: A spider monkey! Brak looked so sad and all of his white fur was stained yellow, he was covered in fleas and obviously unhappy. I took him home that day and swore to him he would be the most loved cat ever from then on."

Why the name Brak?
"I named him after the Space Cat from the eponymous Adult Swim cartoon. He is really funny looking, has the silliest voice and constantly makes up songs about idiotic things. My favourite is about the Carnival of Feet. So yeah, I thought that was a pretty good name for a cat."

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Brak features often on your blog and Instagram — does he like being in front of the camera?
"Gosh he LOVES it. Sometimes I come home and he is trying on all my clothes and taking selfies. That cat is a diva. I mean why else would you wear a tuxedo day in day out?"

Has Brak ever expressed a desire to start his own blog? If so, what kind of blog would he have?
"He's thought long and hard about it, and then decided he would rather make me work and nap all day instead. If he had a blog it would most definitely be a food blog with articles such as: "How to trick your pet human into feeding you dinner twice," "raiding bins and getting away with it," and "how to open a kitchen cabinet." Perhaps also on the side he would have a fetish blog under a pseudonym as he has a thing for rubber. If there is anything rubber lying around, he WILL steal it and hide it somewhere for later consumption. This has become quite an issue."

What is on your new season wish list for you and Brak?
"I'd quite fancy some angora jumpers and Brak agrees as he thinks they would make a great bed."

Do you prefer cats over dogs and why?
"I don't actually prefer cats over dogs. I like all animals with an all consuming passion. I think at the moment a cat suits my lifestyle better - also I have a child which means that having a dog too would pretty much be like having two kids. If I could, I would have a thousand pets."

We noticed you have a penchant for kitty-themed clothing. What is your favourite piece?
"My Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats for sure."
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Ruth Crilly and Mr Bear
Ruth Crilly isn’t just a pretty face. The model and writer commands an impressive following with her acclaimed beauty blog, A Model Recommends, and YouTube channel of the same name. Her partner in crime? Mr Bear the British Shorthair. The Garfield-a-like can be found tweeting prolifically at @FollowMrBear, making cameo appearances in Ruth’s videos, and climbing on stuff.

You’re a model, writer and super-blogger and vlogger — how do you do it? And how did it all start?
"Well, I had been modelling for around a decade when I decided to set up A Model Recommends. I never intended to be a model for so long (I was studying law when I was signed up!) and had been studying and writing in between jobs and castings. I wanted somewhere online to be able to go and write and I also wanted to share my experiences as a model, and that's how the website was born! Modelling is a funny old job; it's very rewarding at times but can also be slow and mildly soul-destroying. It's hard to get into other jobs as people can be quite judgemental about you if you say the word "model", so I decided to created my own job, really..."

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Why did you decide to first get a cat?
"I spend a lot of time on my own, working in my office. I wanted company! I did lots of research on cats and decided that a British Shorthair would be the best; easy going, great company, big cuddly face. I spend a lot of time squeezing him, which my husband tells me off for. He says sometimes he looks at the cat's face when I'm carrying him about and singing to him and sees pure fear. (He lies.)"

Mr Bear sometimes features on your channel — is he an exhibitionist?
"Yeah, he's kind of a tart. He'll roll over for pretty much anyone, to be honest. We found it hard to get a picture of me on my own for this piece because he wanted to be in every picture. He seems to quite like having his photo taken, but that could just be because he's resigned to the fact that I will take them every thirty seconds. Poor boy."

If Mr Bear could speak, what would he say?
"Put me down."

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Mr Bear has his own Twitter account — do you think he’d ever be tempted to start his own YouTube channel?
"Ha! I have honestly thought about this so many times! The thing is, his paws are too chunky to manage Final Cut Pro so I'd have to do the editing, and I simply don't have the time. I'm juggling writing with the website with making content for other sites and brands and trying to finish my MA at the same time! Nothing would give me more pleasure than filming the cat doing stupid stuff. Maybe I should hire someone. Job description: Cat filmer."

What’s on the new-season wish list for you and Mr Bear?
"We both want a new country house with a big garden. It's a work in progress. To be frank, Mr Bear is crap at saving and I'm addicted to Net-A-Porter so things are moving quite slowly."

What is next for you (and Mr Bear)?
"More of the same! As I write this I'm off to an exciting shoot and Mr Bear is snoozing on his back with all four paws in the air. It just sums up life, really, we're both having a great time!"
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Anna Kogan, Bonnie and Clyde
Unless you’ve spent the last year in space, you’ve probably heard about Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. London’s first-ever cat café (set to open later this year) made the headlines last year when founder Lauren Pears raised a cool £100K through crowdfunding. But to see her plan through, she needed even more funding, which is where Anna Kogan came in. The Russian-born entrepreneur, philanthropist, and cat owner invested and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tell us a bit about your role in Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium. How did you find out about Lady Dinah’s and what made you want to invest?
"A friend forwarded me a link to Lady Dinah's crowdfunding campaign. I knew straightaway that it was a business I needed to be involved in, as I love animals and cats in particular. I reached out to Lauren, who told me more about the idea and how much it was going to cost. As her plans developed further, she realised that the money raised in crowdfunding was not going to be enough to secure her entrepreneur visa and that some reserve funding might be needed to ensure the café could weather the quickly rising start-up costs. So I offered to participate, invested some money in it and am happy to be offering strategic advice on all the aspects of running a successful business."

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We understand you also run an animal charity — have you always loved animals?
"I grew up in Russia and always found it horrible to see homeless animals on the street and the abuse they had to endure. Which is why I set up the charity Big Hearts Foundation to bring up animal welfare standards in Russia and reduce the suffering of animals. We organise neutering projects and help shelters start and develop in former Soviet countries."

What is it about cats that you love so much?
"What I love about cats is their independent character. They really do claim what they want: When they want to be petted, they will force you to do so, and when they want you to chase them around or want you to leave them alone, you have to oblige them!"

How did you find your own cats? What are their names and breeds?
"My two cats are called Bonnie and Clyde, they are 3 years old. I found an ad on Gumtree for 2 kittens left from an unwanted litter. The ad claimed that they were to be given to RSPCA if not picked up that weekend, so I picked them up. I was told Bonnie and Clyde are brother and sister, but they look nothing alike. One looks like a tabby, other one plain."

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Will your cats visit Lady Dinah’s? Are they the jealous types?
"My cats will definitely visit Lady Dinah's, they love being around other cats and have had cat visitors from my friends before. We will introduce Bonnie and Clyde to the colony in the cat café quite early on and, if they all get along nicely, they'll certainly be able to visit every now and again. As I said earlier about why I love cats: Cats will only do what they want to do, so ultimately I don't think it's up to us! It will be up to the cats."

What do you and your cats like doing together?
"Bonnie and Clyde love ambushing flies and bugs together on my roof terrace and cat-barking at pigeons. When they catch a big bug, they like to bring it back in as a present for me and my partner. Sometimes Clyde will bite off a flower from one of the plants on the terrace and bring me a flower, too."

What are the essentials for a happy cat?
"The ingredients to keep Bonnie and Clyde happy is to make sure they've always got a freshly cleaned litter box and give them all the affection they demand every day. They enjoy the outside space that we have, but I have lived in flats previously without it and they were just fine: It's a luxury that I think they appreciate, but they don't need it to be happy. A little self-grown grass container is nice too."
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