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How to Get Your Cat Posing For Great Photos

It’s tough getting your cat to pose nicely for a photo. A cat can outstubborn a mule and drive you crazy. So, how do you convince your cat to cooperate? Let me share my fun tips. All you need is your camera and a dash or two of patience so read on….

How Do I Take Cat Poses I Am Proud Of?

I am guessing that you, like me, love to take your own photographs of your cats. You can take better cat pictures and I assure you it is something you can do before you become frustrated at what you think is a lack of skill.

You can get a cat to pose for close-ups, or any other shots you want to take at home. Don’t give up.

Cat Posing outside in the summer sun
Toulouse the cat posing outside © Dash Kitten

A professional cat photographer will have a great camera, lots of lenses, and a tripod. You, as a beginner photographer, will have less equipment but you have one big advantage over the pros. You know your cat’s quirks and habits and the kind of pose it adopts regularly. You and your camera travel light. Use your intimate cat knowledge to work out what kind of pictures you will be able to take.

Remember portraits can be formal or informal.

  • Does your cat yell a lot like our Dot Kitten is in her photos? (see below)
  • Does your cat have a quirky walk, or look over its shoulder at you?
  • Does your cat love to pose or have a unique mannerism?
  • Is it a champion cute napper?
Ground level photograph of a cat striding towards the photographer.
Dot Kitten Ground Level Shot © Dash Kitten

TIP: Before you dive in, check your camera manual for settings that might help you. Check close-up mode, burst or sport mode for activity, and exposure so your pictures aren’t too dark or light.

My first photo tip is the most important. I know it works for me and has allowed me to capture some of my best images. It is worth spending time with this before you undertake a bigger project.

Get Your Cat Comfortable to Being Photographed

When I first got my DSLR camera the cats looked at me as if I had lost my mind. Why was I pointing that weird, noisy, clicky ‘thing’ at them? But, I persisted in taking photographs. Lots, and lots, and lots of photographs. After some time, the cats began to ignore me and I began to get ‘cat posing action. My crazy behaviour was no longer a cause for concern, nothing ever happened when I pointed the noisy camera, and they got extra treats.

Remember. You are not always taking pictures to keep at first. You are getting your cat used to the camera and building a rapport so that they feel comfortable. If some of the pictures come out that’s a win. But your aim is pointing and shooting. You are encouraging your cat to enjoy a photo session, not fear it.

Shot using Aperture Priority and a Canon DSLR
© DashKitten.com

Be Patient

Getting your cat posing for a photo shoot, or working to get a photograph you need for your blog requires one vital skill.

  • Patience, from you.

You need to put in the work to build trust with your cat so they know they will have fun. Don’t hassle them, grumble, or lose your temper. Once you have that trust all but the most super stubborn pets (see below) will know a photoshoot can be fun, means treats and will increase your chances of success.

Let your pet sniff the camera. It can help them get used to the photo shoot process faster.

Beth, Daily Dog Tag

Decide When You Will Photograph Your Cat

Only you know what tie of day your cat is rested or ready to change a wand toy. Knowing that your cat is more likely to behave, or be ready for some action photos will help you to be prepared with your camera, and with the right settings, for the shots you want.

If you do a sponsored product shoot with your cat and you want them to pose gracefully. Plan your shoot for when you know they will be calm. If you do want an action shot, aim for a time when your pet is most active and ready for play.

Cute small cat
Peanut © DashKitten.com

Use Burst or Continuous Shooting Mode

You will capture a series of photographs of your cat in motion and may catch your cat in the one moment of repose between a mad dash and a crazy tumble. Taking a whole fist full of snaps means you are much more likely to grab a successful shot.

Only have your smartphone? Keep your finger of the screen for a burst of rapid shots.

Choose Where You Photograph Your Cat

A cat is most likely to behave properly in an environment they trust or feel relaxed in. Wherever it is, try to make sure there are few distractions for both you. Noise will distract your cat and clutter risks making your hard workd unusable. Find a location that work for you both.

  • Relaxing in a catio or garden environment.
  • The great outdoors like adventurcats Kitty Cat Chronicles
  • A cat that loves to confidently take walks with you.

I will never suggest taking your cat to a new area for a photo shoot. Many cats will be unhappy and unsettled in a strange place. Some cats though are very confident and amaze with their ability to put down their paws and just go! Plush from Life and Cats is a show cat who walks outside with confidence and Kylo Ren and the Kitty Cat Go team are seasoned hikers with their family.

For a Profile Shot

Get down there! Pet level is the only place to be, although no one says the cat needs to be the right way up. It usually works best upright and facing either left or right, I couldn’t explain that to Toulouse so I just went with the flow.

playful cat rolling on the ground.
55-250mm lens, F5.6 ISO 200 1/125 © DashKitten.com

How Do I Get My Cat’s Attention?

Voices and short attention grabbing sounds are useful and can be used tactically to grab your pet’s attention:

  • A squeaky toy
  • A clicker
  • A whistle
  • A laser pointer
  • Treats ( #briberywins)
  • Your own voice making funny sounds.

TOP TIP: Don’t repeat a noise endlessly as this will drive you and your cat nuts and spoil any sense of fun. Set up a shot, be as ready as you can be – then deploy your noise of choice and take lots of pictures.

Remember one thing. You have to work with your cat’s attention span. Nothing in the world will change that so be patient and work with your cat’s limits. This may mean covering the photographs you want over a couple of photoshoots.

Smartphone Image transformed using a Monochrome filter © DashKitten.com

Wipe Your Cat’s Nose, Eyes and Fur (if you can)

OK this is a bit of a challenge for cat owners but finding a stray bit of hair or fluff in your photo can be maddening so if you get a change, use an affectionate stroke to brush away stray hairs. This will save you a bit of time when you edit your photos, but if it’s too late I can recommend the clone tool in your photo editor!

The Stubborn Pet

There is always one, and you need to be ruthless, devious and persistent in your pursuit of the image you want from the stubborn cat who will not look at you. The element of surprise works for the super stubborn pet – use it well!

If a cat always looks away, then you may need someone to stand further back from you and make the loud noise you know will cause your cat to turn and look. Start taking pictures before they start moving. Use sport or burst mode and keep shooting. You will have a narrow window to take as many photos as you can.

  • Want to play really dirty? Have two people taking photos, one from either side.
Excietement and action in this cat photograph taken with a Canon 1300D DSLR

Cat Posing 101 for Beginners

If you don’t know where to start taking photos, let me suggest how you can kickstart your imagination.

If your cat is happy to sit still and pose in one place, you can try for a more formal portrait. This works especially well if you have a show cat that is used to being handled and posed. You need to have your camera ready nearby and take lots of pictures from every angle. If you can have a length of fabric that contrasts with your cat grab it.

  • TIP 1: Your cat will look fantastic with a plain background.
  • TIP 2: Eliminating distractions really improves your photos. Try to reduce or remove clutter.

If your cat does definitely does not want to pose like a movie star, you need to capture your feline doing ‘cat stuff’. This more informal portrait style shows your cat relaxing, yawning, playing with a toy, leaping, or walking. These are genuine portraits and your informal pictures can be the best you ever take.

If you have a friend who can act as an assistant, see if they bribe your cat with strokes (and treats) and maybe gently hold your cat in place for still portraits. If you want a playful post then your assistant can wave a wand toy while you, of course, will be ready to tke every last photo you can before your cat changes position!

Toulouse Vignette For the blog

Persistence and Practice

Don’t give up. Yes, it’s easy to say and not so easy to do. Getting your cat to sit still or pose is something you work on as a team. It takes trust from you and your cat, learning from each other, and working together, to create the shots you need.

Have fun, and along the way, take wonderful pictures when your cat does strokes a pose or by some miracle sits still!

Action shot taken with a canon 1300D. You can take your own

Informal portraits capture a memory that is as important as the quality of your image. They can be precious not perfect, like this image of Dot Kitten.

Resources

Drop Shot: When a cat (or dog) is laid down with its front paws and head looking like an Egyptian Sphynx statue. Your cat will look alert but confident.

20 thoughts on “How to Get Your Cat Posing For Great Photos”

  1. Fantastic tips (as always) for those wanting to start photographing their pets! #BriberyWins in this house, totally! That’s how I trained my five Huskies to pose way back when, and to this day, Wolf and Bandit see my camera or a treat (or hear the bag) they automatically go into pose mode! Sometimes those outtakes or practice pics are gems, aren’t they?!!!

    Reply
  2. Knowing when to take photos is SO important. I have landed some incredible photos of my cats over the years, but there are times when I know that any effort would be pointless. For example, right now… My dogs are SPUN on weekends so the cats tend to stay laying down on the furniture or up on the scratch post to stay out of their way.

    Combine that with the fact they want to cuddle with us as much as possible and they have a lot of pent up energy waiting to escape come Monday morning. It’s noon here right now and my cats are running around the house like little demons. There is NO way I could get a picture of them at this point lol

    Reply
  3. Before I met my first Maremma sheepdog, Shep, I had zero patience. Stubborn, defiant and independent, he taught me I need it with this breed and it has come in really handy since I launched my pet photography business. It’s certainly a requirement, although some pets – especially cats – can prove more difficult than others.

    Reply
  4. These are great tips to help capture wonderful portraits of pets! Professional photographers often let the dogs or cats sniff the camera at the start of the session to help them acclimate to the process quickly.

    Reply
  5. Pipo has been photographed thousands of times since he came here in 2005 as a wee kitten…and he has never been easy to ‘capture’, even with startle noises or another peep to help…and while it was not easy when Angel Minko was still with us, its way harder now, that little rascal! MOL! So when I do get a fairly good picture, I rejoice!!

    My point and shoot Canon SX40, (from many years ago already…Dec 2008.), has a fairly decent zoom on it, sometimes that works, but often then the image is grainy. I must try the sport function more often, I do use that for the hooligan pups when we are outside.
    Maybe if I had a remote shutter release and put the camera on a tripod, it might help too, then I can distract him easier and get him to look?? Who knows!! But the camera is so old they likely don’t have things like that for my model anymore. It does fit on the tripod I got eons ago from my late father.

    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  6. These are all great tips! We also try to get everyone used to the camera at an early stage. We do have a stubborn pup that just doesn’t love it though. Luna is the supermodel of the family, she’ll do just about anything for treats!

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  7. I could find the proverbial needle in the haystack before getting a good shot of dai$y; at 17, I might HAVE 17 photos of her. the last few years when she’s seen me with phone in hand, she leaves the room…. !!! 🙂 ♥♥

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  8. Walter is our super model but Millie prefers to employ every camera avoidance maneuver she can. A longer lens is good for Millie because sometimes she doesn’t even realize she is having her picture taken. Treats also help and lately even Millie will work for treats for a while.

    Reply

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