Shira Wheeler & Monkey, Meatball


“We took the bus deep out in Bushwick to the Kensington cat lady’s shelter (the ladies who used to sit on Bedford Ave with a bunch of cats). We walked into the massive warehouse where they both lived and had about 25 cats roaming the building, some in cages, some out and about. As we talked to the ladies running the shelter, we found out that they were two sisters who had made it their mission to save stray cats in Brooklyn. They moved from warehouse to warehouse getting kicked out because their landlords would find out that they were saving cats.

As we met the cats, they asked us about who we were and what we did—when my husband mentioned he was in a band, they were like, “oh, maybe you know our niece?” and we were like, “who’s your niece?” and they were nonchalantly like, “Fiona Apple.” We were like, “yes, we most certainly know your niece.” and they went into their family history, how they came from a long line of vaudeville performers and how talented Fiona always was…

Meanwhile, I’d been holding Monkey, who had crawled up into the crook of my neck and had started nibbling my neck as if she was nursing. Apparently she had been found outside a deli and had almost died because the deli owner was giving her milk. She was tiny—about 3 weeks old. We fell in love immediately. Meatball, who had a big round belly (at the time we didn’t know it was worms), was the dirtiest, saddest cutest kitten we’d ever seen… Even though the conditions were kind of crazy in the shelter, the two ladies who ran it obviously loved all those cats.

Neither Sam, my husband, or I have ever had such sweet, affectionate, weirdo cats. After driving us nuts, pooping around our apartment (and once on one of our guests?!) while we were in the throws of planning our wedding (they may or may not have contributed to a few minor anxiety attacks), they got healthy and sweet. I’m a little over 8 months pregnant and they both know something is up, but I think they’re going to be a good little auntie and uncle.”

Shira is the founder of @OddoBody, a line of 100% cotton underwear designed to spark open, informed and elevated conversation about women’s health and sexuality.


Photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

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