How to take great cat photos

5 Top Tips for taking great cat photos

We all love to see gorgeous cat photos, but exactly how do you go about getting the best shots of your cat? We are delighted to bring you these top tips from an award winning pet photographer...

ginger cat Riff Raff by coppercat photograhy

If you’ve ever tried to take a photo of a cat, you’ll know it’s not that easy. Either they run and hide whenever you get the camera out, or sit there looking gorgeous until you go to take the photo and then purposely look away!

While we’ll never be able to make cats do exactly what we want, there are some tricks of the trade that will help you get better photos. So, whether you run a rescue and need great photos to help your cats find their forever home or are a cat lover who just wants to take better photos, hopefully these tips will help you out.

black cat Oxo1. Get down to the cat's level

Getting down to your cat’s level when you take a photo has two benefits: it makes you less intimidating which will help the cat relax, and it also keeps the correct perspective, so the cat doesn’t look like it has a huge head and tiny legs. The result - a more intimate portrait which will really capture the cat’s personality.

And if you find that the cat doesn’t like having a phone or camera pointed at them, put it to the side of your face, so they can still see your eyes. This will help them relax a bit, although you might have to play around with the position of the camera, so you actually get the cat in the photo!

2. Fill the frame

This might sound obvious, but make sure the cat makes up the main part of the image. One way of doing this is to fill the frame by just focusing on the cat’s face. This gets over the problem of a cluttered background or inadvertently cutting off the tail or the paws! Just make sure you are focusing on the eyes, so they are sharp and clear.

If for whatever reason you have to include some background, try and make it as uncluttered as possible. Use a sheet to cover up any messy areas, but make sure it’s been ironed first, otherwise the creases may show up!

And if you’re taking photos of a rescue cat, try not to include any cage bars in the image. Although some people respond to a ‘poor little cat behind bars’ photo, most want to imagine how the cat would fit into their life and home.

3. Be interesting

Cats are curious by nature, so use this to your advantage. Sudden noises such as bells, scrunching paper, whistling or clicking your fingers is a good way to get them to look in your direction. However, cats being cats, they will probably only respond to the noise once, so be ready!

black cat MarmiteTry a range of different toys to keep them interested or provide a box for them to explore. You can even get cat games on your computer, that is, if you don’t mind them pawing at your iPad!

And if the cat simply won’t sit still long enough or even look at you, think about taking a photo just after they have woken up or finished eating, as they are more likely to be relaxed. And if all else fails take one of them fast asleep. After all, who doesn’t love a sleeping cat photo!

4. Get help

It can be tricky trying to juggle a camera and a cat, so if possible, get someone to help out. From dangling toys to attract a cat’s attention to making interesting noises from different corners of the room, an extra pair of hands can be invaluable. And this is especially true if you’re photographing nervous cats who won’t respond to toys. Ask your helper to hold the cat. This will help you get a good photo and also shows that the cat can be approachable and friendly.

5. Have patience!

We all know cats are notoriously independent and will only do things when they want to, so put aside enough time so you aren’t in a rush to get the session done. This is especially important if the cat doesn’t know you, as it may take them a while to get used to your presence.

And be prepared to take lots of photos - chances are you’ll be about to press the shutter and the cat will decide to come and see what you’re doing or, even worse, go and hide under the sofa!

But more than anything, make sure you’re in tune with the cat. If at any time they seem stressed or unhappy, just accept you won’t get the ideal photo and finish the session.

Now, go and have fun!

Taking photos of cats can be incredibly frustrating, but also incredibly rewarding when you get the photo you want. Just remember to take lots of photos, have patience and most of all enjoy it. You might not get exactly the photo you want, but you will definitely have fun trying!

Contributor: Kathryn Collinson,
Published: April 2020