Taylor Swift acquired another luxurious cat following the loss of her previous one, expressing, “I’m a huge cat enthusiast; I adore having them around me. I couldn’t care less about the criticism from haters. Cats bring me joy, and that’s what matters.”

Taylor Swift and Cat


Taylor Swift is Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2023.


Taylor Swift's Cat Olivia Benson

This news, which was announced on Wednesday morning, came as no surprise (a) because Swift has dominated the culture this year, with the Eras Tour, her blockbuster concert film, her album re-releases, and her relationship with Travis Kelce/apparent NFL marketing deal, and (b) because “Person of the Year” has always been a marketing gimmick. No offense to the Fed chair, but nobody would rush to a newsstand to pick up a copy of Time featuring 2023 finalist Jerome Powell.

What I didn’t expect was my colleagues’ puzzled reaction to seeing Swift wearing a feline like a necklace on the Time cover. “Why is there a cat?” one asked.

Taylor Swift and Cat

Why. Is. There. A. Cat? The room started spinning. To me, this is like wondering, Hey, why is Donald Trump wearing that red hat? In the past year, TikTok has radicalized me into a full-on member of TAnon, who can explain lore like Karlie Kloss eye theory and why a recent Jack Antonoff post about Taylor eating raisins sent Swifties into a tizzy. But even when I was only following Swift as a casual consumer of celebrity gossip, I was aware that she’s really into felines. How did my co-workers miss that there’s a pop star naming her cats after TV and movie characters, referencing them in her lyrics, and carrying them around town in a handbag?

Taylor Swift and Cat

I think it’s time to teach some lessons about America’s foremost Cat Lady. Here are answers to all your questions about Swift’s cats and the “Person of the Year” cover.


How many cats does Swift have?
Three. In 2011 she adopted a Scottish Fold and named her Meredith Grey after Ellen Pompeo’s character on Grey’s Anatomy. In 2014 she got another Scottish Fold she named Olivia Benson after Mariska Hargitay’s character on Law & Order: SVU.

And in 2019 she met a Ragdoll kitten on the set of her “ME!” music video and decided to add him to the crew. He’s named Benjamin Button, after Brad Pitt’s character in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.


Is that’s Taylor’s actual cat on the Time cover?
Yes, that’s Benjamin Button.


So Taylor Swift is a real cat lady?
Very much so. She has made her cats part of her work and her public persona for years, as People summarizes:

Swift has never been shy about making her cats part of her personality, and fans love her all the more for it. All three cats have made multiple appearances on her social media pages and even in some of her music videos. In 2020, the superstar’s pets were also featured in her holiday card, wearing cute winter gear against a black-and-white background reminiscent of her 2020 album folklore.

The Grammy winner has also said that her beloved cats have had some influence over her career. In 2019, she told TIME, “I have cats. I’m obsessed with them. I love my cats so much that when a role came up in a movie called Cats, I just thought, like, I gotta do this.” In fact, Swift even attended a “cat school” on set to prepare for her role.

She even listed cats as a core part of her identity while coming up with the concept for her “ME!” music video. “When it’s like me-e-e- it’s like, dancers, cats, gay pride, people in country western boots,” she said. “I start riding a unicorn, like, just, everything that makes me, me!”

Have Taylor’s cats done anything notable this year?
Yes. The Eras Tour concludes with Swift singing the 2022 song “Karma,” which includes these lines: “Karma is a cat / purring in my lap ’cause it loves me / flexing like a goddamn acrobat.”

This inspired Mariska Hargitay, namesake of Swift’s cat, to name her new pet “Karma.”


Why is Taylor wearing her cat on the Time cover?
While Swift joked in a Instagram post that her response to learning she’s “Person of the Year” was “Can I bring my cat,” it seems taking Benjamin Button to the shoot was the photographer’s idea. Inez van Lamsweerde, who shot the cover with partner Vinoodh Matadin, told Time that the shot is a reference to the cover of the 1978 book Cat People by Bill Hayward:

There’s a book by photographer Bill Hayward called Cat People from the ’70s, with journalistic photos of cat lovers and their cats, but it’s all entertainers, writers, journalists — some very famous, some not so famous. And the pictures are brilliant. It shows very well the relationship that people have with their cats. But at the same time, [shows] the way cats are kind of on their own — they’re a special breed of animal. So I got a vintage copy of it for Taylor because I know she’s a major cat lover, and her cats travel with her. And I said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to do a picture like the one that’s on the cover of that book where the cat’s on the shoulder of the girl.” It speaks to a sense of carrying everything on your shoulders but being defiant while doing so. And she agreed and that’s how that picture happened.

Van Lamsweerde also mused that Taylor carrying Benjamin on her shoulders is symbolic of this moment in her career:

It really has everything: Her glamor, her power, her sense of empathy of carrying the whole world on her shoulders. Because if you do feel like that — she’s so involved in everything, whether it’s getting young people to vote, etc. — she’s always pushing for things that are outside of the music realm. I felt that there is something there in her body position that’s very powerful and strong. Her expression and the way she looks has this old Hollywood glamor but underneath, there’s so much power in her stance. The way she has Benjamin on her shoulders is kind of like, ‘Yeah, I’m carrying you all.’


But like, how is she wearing the cat?
The Time cover does raise some logistical questions. Swift’s attempts to share the spotlight with her cats haven’t always gone smoothly, as shown in this promotional video for her 1989 World Tour.

The answer may be that her third cat is a more willing model than his sisters. Swift commented in a 2019 Instagram post with Benjamin Button, “I’ve never personally encountered a cat that preferred to be carried as if they’re a human baby. But that’s what’s happening here.”

Who knew that four years later this kitten would be selling dreams, makeup, and magazines as Time’s “Cat of the Year”?