Cats Are Today’s Internet Stars …But Even in 1900s Cats Were Popular Subjects


Cats—love them or hate them. The Internet is full of cute cat pictures and videos. These loveable pets have been human companions for centuries, but when photography came into being, just as today’s social media stars, the cats and kittens of the day were just as popular. Here are four photographers who loved taking pictures of cats.

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Harry Pointer

Creative pet photos can be traced back to Harry Pointer. He made a career of taking naturalistic pictures of cats, then he decided he can make them pose in silly ways and write jokes in the captions. Above is Harry Pointer with his beloved cats.

Brighton Cats

Harry Pointer took more than 200 photos of his Brighton Cats.

Jessie Tarbox Beals

As the first published female photojournalist, Jessie Tarbox Beals became known when she took pictures at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904. She also took funny pictures of cats, like the one above where the cat is being tempted by the bird in the cage.

All Dressed Up

Beals had her own studio in New York City. She photographed real life in Greenwich Village and in the city slums. Above is a photo of a woman with her cat.

Drunk Cat

Beals also knew how to stage funny photos like the one above. It’s a cat with a hangover.

Arnold Genthe

Arnold Genthe was a portrait photographer in New York City. He had a cat called Buzzer that he would offer to his subjects as a prop. In the photo above, Ann Murdock poses with Buzzer.

The Famous Buzzer

Buzzer was used to make his subjects feel more relaxed so Genthe could take a natural photo.

Harry Whittier Frees

Harry Whittier Frees used animal posing in funny costumes for novelty postcards.

A Group of Hungry Kittens

In his book, Frees wrote that “the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal.”

Cats with Their Cake

Frees used many animals for this photographs. He used pigs, rabbits, and dogs, but his all-time favorites animals to use were kittens.

The Cook

He had a small window of time to work with the kitten-about a month. The kitten needed to be between six to ten weeks old.

The Express Train

The animals that he used were made to pose for one-off photos, and Frees also did illustrations for children’s books with animals as his subjects.

Learn some tips on how to take pictures of cats


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