Celebrity cats, from sad-eyed Snoopybabe to sourpuss Tartar Sauce, have taken over the Internet and kneaded their way into the hearts of an entire generation of web users. According to a study by mobile network Three, pet owners between the ages of 18 and 34 share 3.8 million feline photos each day, compared to approximately 1.5 million selfies. Over a quarter of a million cat owners have created a Twitter or Facebook account for their kitties hoping to achieve what’s known as the viral spiral.
Scientists have also proven that our growing love for online felines is purely therapeutic – a form of digital pet therapy. According to a study published in the journal of Computers in Human Behavior, visual cat-candy reduces stress, increases productivity and induces happiness, especially for individuals who are introverted and agreeable. So, it’s no wonder we want to snap and share pictures of our precious felines. Cats, however, are finicky subjects. In front of the camera, some cats stand perfectly posed while others swat disapprovingly at the camera or bolt underneath the couch. With these 10 tips, you can capture your cat’s furniture-leaping, object-batting, and cat-napping charm.
1. Use a simple background.
Brighten up your pet’s portraits by shooting its picture in front of a bold, clutter-free background. Are you looking for a portrait that pops? Go white. If you’d rather have a colorful background, think monochromatic. Choose a rug, blanket or wrapping paper that compliments your kitty’s eyes or fur.
2. Think small.
Most cats are agoraphobic, which means that they’re terrified of wide-open spaces. They feel safe and relaxed in small places. Empty-boxes, brown paper bags and paper towel rolls rank high on the meow-o-meter, so lure your cat to its photo session with these oh-so-inviting items.
3. Tempt your cat with treats or toys.
If you’re trying to take a picture of your cat in a specific pose, you’ll fail. Cats are the supermodels of the animal world. They’ll do whatever they please, whenever they please. However, good old fashioned bribery, treats and toys, go a long way. Turn a play session into a photo-op. Bounce toys attached to poles or hurl them for dynamic, mid-air shots.
You can also help your cat relax in front of the camera by slipping it mouthwatering treats. For head shots, turn off the flash or angle your shot upwards. While flash doesn’t cause eye damage, it often distracts or frightens cats. It can also make your kitty’s eyes look spooky and red. Still, you can get a little face-time by tapping the top of your camera with a treat or dangling a toy. Your cat’s eyes will lock directly onto your camera’s lens. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to take a quick shot of your cat trying to grab your camera.
4.Take a photo of your cat at feeding time.
The way to every cat’s heart is through its stomach. Most cats will pounce on your stomach and stare you down until you get them breakfast. Grab your camera and flick the tab on your cat’s can of wet food. Its big, round eyes will stare longingly at the can and your camera. Snap photos quickly because your cat is smart; it’s not going to fall for this trick very long.
5. Give your kitty catnip.
A cat’s best friend is catnip. Rip open a bag and sprinkle some in a naturally well-lit area. Most cats’ feisty natures will kick in. They’ll zoom around the house and roll onto the carpet for pictures that are sure to get hundreds of paws and thumbs up on Facebook.
6. Take advantage of your cat’s habits.
Does your cat wiggle its way into your living room blinds? Does it hop inside your refrigerator every time you open the door? Is it obsessed with knocking a certain trinket off of your dresser? Casually set your camera in the room it frequents. Then you’ll always be ready to capture those hilarious, adorable and often very naughty moments.
7. Use a pet cam.
Turn your cat into a photographer; buy a Pet’s Eye View Camera ($39.99 at Uncle Milton). This basic, clip-on camera attaches to your kitty’s collar and takes up to 40 awe-inducing photos at one, five and fifteen minute intervals. You can also use take photos of your cat paparazzi style using Kittyo ($249 at Kittyo), the high-tech monitor that allows you to record, speak, play and feed your cat when you’re away from home.
8. Include people in your cat’s portrait.
Including pet parents in your photos will guarantee that they’ll be proudly displayed for years to come. You can take posed photos or candid photos during special occasions (animal play dates, holiday and birthday parties, visits to PetSmart, cheezburger fests) from a variety of angles and frames. For that million-dollar shot of your cat, get ready to squeeze into small places, crawl through mud and grass and scale trees.
9. Keep your cat’s eyes sharp.
Your cat’s expressive eyes are a window into his or her nine lives. When you’re taking pictures of them, keep the tack sharp.
10. Peg your cat’s personality.
When you’re taking pictures of your cat, it’s important to peg its personality without forcing it outside of its comfort zone. Is your cat a lazy, Garfield-like, slug-a-bed? Take a picture of it chowing down lasagna, basking in the sun or swatting a spider. On the other hand, if your cat is the curious type that’s always jumping off of the walls, snap a picture of it sticking its noise (or more likely whole head) where it doesn’t belong, or twirling through the air after a bug.