Photographing Cats: Tips and Tricks

Compared to dogs, cats have not completely yielded to human subjugation. Therefore, photographing cats can be challenging
Compared to dogs, cats have not completely yielded to human subjugation. Therefore, photographing cats can be challenging | Source

There is a wide appeal for pedigreed, or mixed breed, cat. Independent personality, majestic appearance, ability to display affection through body language and vocalization, inclination to groom, among others, make cat a wonderful human companion. Worldwide, cat and its arch enemy dog are popular pet animals. It is hard to say which is more popular. Interestingly, in North America, there are more cat owners than dog owners.

Before cats and dogs were domesticated, they lived in a pack and their allegiance was to the leader of the pack. After dogs were domesticated, they transferred their allegiance from pack leader to human master. However, compared to dogs, cats have not completely yielded to human subjugation. Therefore, photographing cats can be challenging.

It is very unlikely that your cat will agree to model for you. The best cat shot is the one that comes out spontaneously.
It is very unlikely that your cat will agree to model for you. The best cat shot is the one that comes out spontaneously. | Source

How to Photograph Your Cats

Because of their self-reliance, normally, it is hard to make them follow your orders. Your cat will probably never give you the best shot, it is you who has to work for it. If you can pay attention to camera angle, light source, and placement of the cat, you can create best photo out of mundane cat activities.

The best photographer is the one who can create best out of ordinary subjects and objects. In other words, best photographer can tell the visual story of common events and things in a special way.

If you have feline friends and a camera, it is obvious that you want to capture their various poses and activities. Some simple techniques and understandings will help you to take best pictures of your cats. You may have a compact camera, a D/SLR or a cellphone camera, however you must understand that camera does not make best photo, it is you who can create the best shot.

These tips will help you to take best shot of your cat.

According to the behavioral pattern, cat can be divided into two types:

Outdoor cats: They spend more time outdoors. They are aggressive, they have high-self reliance, and they love their freedom. If you spend more time outdoors, it could be convenient to own an outdoor cat. Outdoor cat is prone to common health problems and diseases.

Indoor cats: They spend more time inside the house, they are friendly and love to hang around people. Even though you may have indoor cat, your cat has natural desire to go outside. Indoor cats are most of the time trained to use litter box.

#1 Understand Cat Behavior

In order to get best shot from your cat, you have to understand feline behavioral patterns. You can begin with reading books on cat behavior and observing your cat’s activities. Cat communicates its emotional and mental intentions through facial expression, vocal sounds, body postures, and tail movement. Cat maintains connection with human beings through these signals. More you understand your cat, better will be your photographs.

Cat expresses its social behavior by rubbing the side of the head, lips, chin, or tail against humans or furniture. By doing so, cat stimulates scent glands in these regions, which helps them to establish familiarity with the environment and human beings. Cat also engages in licking humans and other feline companions. This can be interpreted as a natural display of love, admiration, and habituation.

In order to photograph your cat, you have to monitor its activities and schedule.
In order to photograph your cat, you have to monitor its activities and schedule. | Source

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#2 Monitor Your Cat’s Activities

It is very unlikely that your cat will agree to model for you. The best cat shot is the one that comes out spontaneously. In order to photograph your cat, you have to monitor its activities and schedule. One of the favorite activities of cat includes grooming, especially after meal. They groom by cleaning their body through tongue.

Big cats (lion, tigers, leopards) roar whereas small cats purr. Cat purr to express contentment, friendliness, pleasure, or pain and suffering. It is necessary to understand these signals to understand your cat better.

To make your monitoring process easy, first answer these questions.

  • What is your cat’s breed?
  • Is your cat outdoor or indoor?
  • Is your cat male or female?
  • How long does your cat sleep?
  • What is your cat’s favorite place?
  • How does your cat behave with other cats?

If you can spot your cat doing its favorite activities such as napping, licking coat/paws, nursing kittens, you will be able to take great shots.
If you can spot your cat doing its favorite activities such as napping, licking coat/paws, nursing kittens, you will be able to take great shots. | Source

#3 Cat Poses and Placement

Most of the time cats are bad models. They will never follow your orders to stay still or pose for the camera. Having said that you can also find your cat in natural fun poses, which can inspire you to take the best possible shots. To find your cat in interesting pose, monitor your cat’s activities and schedules. Your camera must always be ready to capture your cat’s natural pose.

Placement of cat is also important to get the best shot. You cannot just place your cat on the table or sofa and anticipate the best shot. They are very agile, therefore, you cannot expect your coordinate photo to result in the best shot. Look for your cat in its favorite places and doing favorite things. Stay patient and try to capture spontaneous activities.

To take best pictures of your cat, you must have

Patience

Willingness

Friendliness

Your camera ready

#4 Cat Activities

If you can spot your cat doing its favorite activities such as napping, licking coat/paws, you will be able to take great shots.

Napping

Cats make interesting pose while napping. Your cat’s napping can give you a plenty of opportunities to take pictures.

Licking coat/paws

Cat loves to clean itself. You can always see your cat cleaning itself. Licking coat/paws is cat’s one of the favorite activities.

Rubbing body parts

Cat shows its emotional and psychological connection with the environment and human companions and other feline creatures by rubbing its body, head, tail against humans, objects and other cat.

Cats make interesting pose while napping.
Cats make interesting pose while napping. | Source

#6 Get Someone to Assist You

If you can find someone to assist you while taking photos, you can provoke the cat to come into action and then capture the cat in action.

You can make your cat spring into action by giving catnip.

Ask someone to throw a rope or ball, and wait for the cat to play with it.

Ask someone to call the cat’s name or wiggle things and wait for your cat to respond.

Ask someone to distract the cat from your behind or above, and capture the cat when it is looking away from you or above your head.

#5 Light Sources

Always try to take the picture of your cat in natural light. However, sometimes you can capture the surprise or terrified expression on your cat by firing flash.

If you are taking indoor pictures of your cat, open the curtains or blinds, or give artificial light on your subject by switching on lights.

Cat loves warm sunlight, you can get best shots when your cat is napping in the sun. You can also experiment with your photo by using reflector or firing flash while taking the picture of the cat in the sunlight.

Anti-light is not always bad. You can take wonderful photos of your cat when your cat is blocking the light source.

Some Photography Ideas for Cat Photography

  1. Take close-up, medium close-up, and top shot of your cat when it is napping.
  2. Gently wake your napping cat and take the picture of its surprised expression.
  3. Rub your cat’s cheeks and capture its relaxed picture.
  4. Caress its belly and encourage it to roll over and take the top shot.
  5. Encourage your cat to do some antics such as playing with ping-pong ball, tearing clothes and take the spontaneous picture.
  6. You never know what cat will do. Therefore, patiently wait for your cat to spring into action, and keep your camera handy to capture your cat’s natural action.

You can experiment with your photo by using reflector or firing flash while taking the picture of the cat in the sunlight.
You can experiment with your photo by using reflector or firing flash while taking the picture of the cat in the sunlight. | Source

© 2013 Vinaya Ghimire

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8 comments

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I used to love photographing our family cat but could never quite get a good pose. Wish I would have had your guide back then. I love your photos. What a great topic to cover!


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Photographing Cats: Tips and Tricks Wow! This is amazing about cats, you must be cat lover, great photos and so well informed.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

I love taking pictures of my cats as well as those that I have rescued and cats that visit our yard. Nice tips and lovely photos. Your cats are very beautiful. Sharing, voted up and more.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Hello Vinaya, Nice to see you. I don't have a cat, my sister Mary has an adorable one that rules the house. Thank's for tips on using the camera. Great article...


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

I do love taking photos of my cat for he is always up to something! He has the funniest thing of actually reclining in a recliner on his back, sitting right there with my husband in the recliner. Needless to say, he fits right in this household. LOL

Thanks for the wonderful hub and I love your photos.

Up and more and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

I have always owned cats but my last one who was 19 has passed on now and she was so hard to photograph looking into the camera but I suppose she finally got use to me near the end and I got some very good shots with her looking right into the camera. Those pictures mean so much to me too, she had become almost like a child. Thanks for the memories Vinaya, great writing and info. ^


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

What a clever, informative and helpful article. Well done, Vinaya!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

i dont own any cats but I bet its a lot of fun thanks for this wonderful share Vin :)

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