The story behind Taylor Swift’s Time Person of the Year cover photo with her cat
Whoever said it’s a dog’s life hasn’t met Taylor Swift’s three cats: Meredith Gray, Olivia Benson and Benjamin Button. The trio of felines, named after famous TV and movie characters, occasionally get to share in their mom’s spotlight.
The latest iteration of that is the image of Benjamin Button, her blue-eyed ragdoll cat, lounging on her shoulders in her cover shoot as Time’s 2023 Person of the Year.
Swift shared a quip about the image on social media, along with one of the cover photos.
Time Magazine: We’d like to name you Person of the Yea-
Me: Can I bring my cat. https://t.co/SOhkYKSTwG
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) December 6, 2023
We know she was probably joking about her response, but Swift’s love for her cats is well known by her adoring fans. She is a self-declared “cat lady” who showed that off in a viral 2021 TikTok video.
@taylorswift *little did she know* #swifttok #catsoftiktok #meow ♬ original sound – Taylor Swift
But the idea to have Swift pose with one of her cats actually came from Time photographer Inez van Lamsweerde, who was inspired by a photo book from the 1970s called “Cat People,” by Bill Hayward. As she gave the book to Swift, she looked at the cover photo of a woman with her cat draped over her shoulders and said she always wanted to pay homage to that shot.
“It speaks to a sense of carrying everything on your shoulders but being defiant while doing so,” van Lamsweerde told Time. “And she [Swift] agreed, and that’s how that picture happened.”
But how was Benjamin Button the lucky cat to pose for Time? That choice was entirely Swift’s.
She met Benjamin Button on her 2019 music video “ME!” set and quickly made her family of two cats into three. Benjamin was the cat chosen for the glamorous video shoot because he is not camera-shy, which you can see in the video Swift shared of meeting him as a kitten:
But Swift does have two other cats, and one of them is rather shy around cameras. In 2021, Swift took to social media to answer Swifties who wondered why they weren’t seeing more photos of Meredith. Swift explains that Meredith hates getting her picture taken, and that’s why no one had seen her in recent photos.
I wanted to say thank you to you so today I will be addressing a very pressing issue. 🐈🐈⬛❓ pic.twitter.com/kBUybYoV2W
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 16, 2021
Meredith Gray and Olivia Benson are both Scottish Fold cats and have made various appearances on their cat mama’s social media and music videos over the years.
“They’re very dignified,” she explained in an interview with Time in 2019 about her influences — one of which was her cats. “They’re very capable of dealing with their own life.”