Meet Linnéa, a 27-year-old nurse living in Sweden who’s also known as Nyxiel, a human kitten.
Linnéa is part of the kitten play community, a subculture made up of people who spend hours a day living as cats.
For Linnéa that means wearing ears, a tail, pawprint gloves, a collar, and cat inspired makeup, crawling around on her knees, communicating in meows, and eating her food from bowls on the floor.
She’ll also get treated to plenty of strokes and cuddles from her owner and boyfriend.
‘I always had a personality like a cat,’ Linnéa tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I’m a crazy cat lover.
‘I stumbled across kitten play on Instagram a few years ago and started to read up on it. I bought my first set of ears and tail myself, it was black and white.
‘I often find myself like the cat breed Maine Coon in my personality. Very calm and gentle with much pride but also very spoiled.’
For Linnéa, kitten play is a way to relax, unwind, and escape the usual stresses of being a working adult – but the play comes into her sex life, too.
‘I have an owner who is my boyfriend that I live with,’ she explains. ‘We have kitten play in our day to day lives, even without the gear. It can be that I’m in a headspace as a cat and just want to curl up and cuddle or just be playful, like biting and scratching.
‘But we can have a whole day with me in my gear. I’m not allowed to communicate with human language and I eat my food from bowls.
‘I try my best to crawl on my knees around the house.
‘For us it’s like foreplay. It doesn’t always include sexual activities, but when it does the kitten play is like foreplay and it’s just me having sex wearing kitten gear and being playful or disobedient sometimes.
‘I like to be in kitten space where I can just focus on being a cat and not think about the real life world, just be there for my owner and get all the cuddles and attention from him.
Unlike many of those in the kitten space community, Linnéa doesn’t feel she needs to keep the kitten side of herself a secret.
Her owner will challenge her to go out and about in kitten gear, and she regularly shares photos of play on her Instagram(that link is NSFW).
Her closest friends know she enjoys kitten play, and if other people ask about her life she refuses to be ashamed of enjoying both kitten play and BDSM.
‘I live in a very small town and people tend to stare already at me for being adopted from Thailand and living in Sweden,’ Linnéa tells us. ‘But I do wear collars and I also have more discreet ears on a headband that I wear sometimes.
‘But my owner did once test me by take me with him buying something quick in a grocery shop here and I had cat ears, make up and a metal collar.
‘People did look at me but I tried to focus on making my owner proud. During Halloween I also went out with ears, tail, make up with normal clothes and watched a movie at the movie theatre.’
Her boyfriend hadn’t owned a human kitten before, but slipped easily into the role as he’d previously been an owner to a German Shepherd. Linnéa introduced him to kitten play.
‘I often call him “Husse” which is the Swedish male term of the word Owner to a pet,’ says Linnéa. ‘I even call him “Husse” even outside kitten play.
‘It comes very natural in our relationship. He is a very caring person and loves to spoil me as much as he can.’
Linnéa hopes that by sharing her experiences, she’ll get rid of some of the misconceptions around people who play as animals.
‘Many think that it is a unhealthy kink and that also include that you are interested in bestiality which is not connected at all,’ says Linnea. ‘It is like role-playing, same for those who are interested in Police/Nurse/Maid.
‘It’s a way for some people to take a break from reality and step into another world where you don’t need to care about real world problems.
‘It’s a lovely commuity, especially on Instagram, very helpful, loveable, outgoing and friendly. If you have a question or just like to talk and you share the same kinks then you can get in contact with many amazing people. They always respond in a kind open way, without any judgements.
‘I love that – a judgement-free society and people that just respect our differences.’