Cats in Pictures: How to Photograph Your Favorite Feline (1965)

Jeanne White
Chilton Books

A book purporting to instruct the reader on the finer points of photographing cats, but really, just another excuse to look at pictures of cats engaged in cute and amusing hijinx.

Intriguingly, as this was written in the dog-dominant '60s, author White must first make the case that 70% of cat owners are "families" and not "spinsters," thereby sanctioning the reader's presumed interest in photographing and appreciating cats as completely normal and not at all sad or pathetic. 

The secret to a good cat photograph, we are told, is the ability to understand how cats will react in certain situations.  The formula is thus to put the cat in a "situation," provoke it somehow, and then photograph it.

Another good trick is to pose your cat with a prop.  White even recommends that you canvas your neighbors for interesting items in which you can place your cat.  "Who knows what souvenirs  from their travels may be tucked away in some corner that might better be used in a photo with playful kittens!"  One can only imagine the unfortunate reader of this book who became even more stigmatized in the neighborhood as the weird cat lady/guy by going door to door in search of useful objects in which to pose little Mittens.  

After that, White basically provides information about lenses, lighting, depth of field, etc. that would apply to any object, feline or no.  In the cat psychology department, however, we are told cats do not appreciate a "hail-fellow-well-met" approach, and that not treating them "gently" during their photog session will result "in a picture of a peeved pussy!"  And no one wants that, at least in this context.

If you're particularly good at photographing cats, White advises,  you might consider selling your photos at local gatherings of cat enthusiasts.

If you send out a lot of photos to cat magazines and photo contests, meanwhile, you are advised to keep a loose leaf notebook notating where each photo is and when it was sent.  If you don't hear about your cat photo submission in over a month, "a letter listing pertinent facts and inquiring if pictures have been received is in order."  This advice no doubt made the author a favorite among the editors of the nation's leading cat and general interest monthlies of the era.

Alright, you've read this far, so clearly you want to look at cats.  Here are some of the more interesting shots from the book (note: when in doubt as to how to photograph a kitten, stick him into something). In the spirit of the genre, I have added my own humorous captions that attribute human thought and motivation to each cat or kitten.

"Hey, look at me, I caught a fish, which is good because, like all cats, I really enjoy fish. Yay for me. "

"Go F yourself," said the sleepy little kitten to the people who stuck him a coffee cup. 


Before the almighty and ineffable God Lucifer and in the presence of all Demons of Hell, who are the True and the Original gods, I, Mittens, renounce any and all past allegiances. I renounce the false Judea/Christian god Jehovah, I renounce his vile and worthless son Jesus Christ, I renounce his foul, odious, and rotten holy spirit.
I proclaim Satan as my one and only God. I promise to recognize and honor him in all things, without reservation, desiring in return, his manifold assistance in the successful completion of my endeavors.

 Additional Cat Photography Mystery:  If you will examine this photo closely, you will notice that the previous owner of this book, for reasons unknown, supplemented a cat ear on the left kitten with some detailed blue ink work. 

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