David Williams has always been a friend to felines, and he’s out to show all guys that they can be, too. This Colorado native is back in the Mile High City this week to debunk the crazy cat lady trope with the launch of his new book Men With Cats: Intimate Portraits of Feline Friendship.

“Our culture kind of has this weird habit of assigning gender to, like, everything,” Williams says.

To show cat ownership needs no gender, his book features 75 images of modern dudes, ­in all their mundane glory, with their purring pals. Williams got the idea for the project while studying at the Denver Art Institute and working with a beefy, head-banging cat enthusiast in the dairy department of a local grocery store. “He was just this super masculine dude, who, you know, worked out a lot and listened to metal music—but, he’s, like, in love with his cat,” says Williams.

The young photographer asked to shoot the man’s portrait, and over the years he would photograph his male friends with their cats, too. When he moved to New York City and went to work for Time Out New York, the publication ran a series of Williams’ photos of the city’s men and their furry friends—that’s when everything snowballed. “Juxtapoz [Magazine] wrote about it and the next morning I had emails from Huff Post and all of them and it just kind of blew up, went viral.”

Williams capitalized on the momentum. Kicking his passion project into high gear, he pitched a book idea to three different publishers and flew back to Denver and to California to collect more photos. Before, his portraits were just of his millennial friends, but what Williams really wanted to do was show the normalcy of man–cat friendship with subjects from all walks of life.

With the help of Quirk Books, the man-with-cat internet phenomenon is now immortalized in book form. If you think you need a collection of bright, delightfully awkward portraits of guys alongside their feline friends, you can get yours for $12.95 at the Tattered Cover on Colfax. Stop by Thursday from 7-9 p.m. for William’s hometown launch party. 2526 E. Colfax Ave., 303-322-7727

Haley Gray
Haley Gray
Haley Gray is a Boulder-based freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in 5280, Roads and Kingdoms, Boulder Magazine, and the Albuquerque Journal.