Cats are pretty versatile. They can be cute, mangy, fluffy, or sleek. They can be grumpy and they can be nice. But can cats be metal? Oh yes, says Alexandra Crockett, the photographer behind Metal Cats, a new book published by powerHouse Books.
According to Crockett, who spent three-and-a-half years taking pictures of metal-heads and their cats (she calls them “familiars”), those who like metal music have a natural affinity for felines–particularly weird looking ones. “Metal musicians tend to gravitate toward cats more than other animals,” Crockett says. “It’s the opposite of punks, who tend to own dogs.”
Crockett says that punks tend to gravitate towards dogs because dogs represent being part of some sort of tribal pack. But metal musicians love weird cats because they’re often outcasts, just like their owners.
“A lot of people in the metal scene are very aware of the stigmatization and marginalization of certain types of people, largely because they are often the target of generalizations and stereotypes,” Crockett tells Co.Design. “That often translates into a higher likelihood of adopting or rescuing cats that are less ‘adoptable’ for various reasons, instead of going to a breeder.”
Black cats, for example, tend to be underrepresented in rescues and adoptions, Crockett says. Even today, black cats come with superstitions attached: They are the bringers of bad luck, they are the familiars of wizards, and they are sorcerers by nature. That means black cats are more prone to being put down in shelters. But for people in the metal scene, these same qualities give black cats a certain appeal. Because metal-heads feel they are stigmatized for equally irrational reasons.
Crockett says that the reason she likes the word “familiars” to describe a metal cat is because, over time, cats and their owners tend to take on one another’s personalities. Even in the most unlikely pairings, she says, metal-heads and their cats are at least united in the “don’t give a shit” attitudes that they mutually display.