Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Sam the Foster Cat’s Journey

I love taking cat portraits and really appreciated the opportunity to record Sam’s stay with us as a foster. These images gifted me the opportunity to reflect on Sam’s experience and how fosters can turn around the lives of abandoned cats, as well as kittens. We can do it with actions, and images that only a foster can take.

  • UPDATE: This week our foster cat Sam has his meet and greet with a potential forever home. A lady has fallen in love with him after reading his story.

A Touch of Rescue Drama

Let me share a little bit of Sam’s story.

The family who originally adopted Sam and his brother probably thought they were just adopting cute kittens. They forgot, as many do, that kittens grow up to be adult cats who need care, food and most importantly spay/neuter surgery and regular vet visits to keep them healthy.

The result of their lack of knowledge was a family unsure how to cope with two growing young boy cats as they grew up and hormones kicked in. The twosome began to fight frequently, and Sam arrived at our house looking like a thin ginger twig (or an American popsicle stick) who had spent his days at a disreputable ‘fight club’. He had not been abused, it was more neglect that happened as world events took over and worldwide lockdown issues intervened.

Sam’s story made me realise that there is a need for education and classroom programmes like those run by the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota to capture the people, and cats that fall through the cracks in their knowledge. This need is worldwide and where there is no organised education programme available, it is up to us, as cat lovers, owners and fosters to show the way.

Sam’s fight marks and his straggly shaved fur – ISO 200 50 mm f/3.2 1/80

The family must be given credit for realising that they were not coping with the two young boy cats. They reached out to a local cat rescue for help. Rachel Rescues NZ a small local rescue here in the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa Region of New Zealand came to their aid and took the two young boys off the family’s hands.

The group, which I foster for, is a registered charity that has a busy Facebook presence to help rehome cat and kittens and host important fundraisers. Like many small rescues worldwide, their work never ends and they do not turn away. The two boys were not bonded so were placed in separate homes.

Smartphone Image – Sam Resting

A Foster Cat’s True Nature

The first few days a foster is settling into their temporary home lets you discover how much help they as a cat or kittens need. You discover how much care and persuasion they will need to settle, eat and use the litter box. I am pleased to say that it did not take us long to find out that Sam was a genuinely sweet cat.

He seemed grateful for the sachets of food and the kibble he was given to build him up and he accepted the healing ointment for his scratches with no hisses or flinches. He settled in quickly and absolutely adored the window bed in the foster room where he loved to spend time watching Bird TV. The photograph I called ‘Feeling Safe’ (below) captures a feeling of ‘home, safety and peace’ with a stark reminder as your eye travels over the image to his shaved chest area. Sam is healing and safe and he seems to know it.

A Cat Gains Confidence

Over several days time has slowly been introduced into the house and its main corridor as well as the front room for more window fun. He did not hide at any time during his stay. and his confidence grew stronger.

Affection for a Foster Cat
Feeling Safe – ISO 800 50 mm f/3.5 1/350

You can see there is still some ointment residue on his chest in the photograph, but Sam’s curious face shows he is a confident cat who has suffered no lasting damage from being in his previous home. In fact, his ability to play with wand toys and stuffed mice makes me feel he did have some positive experience in his first home. He does not struggle to understand that play is fun which is really positive.

Sam the rescue cat's portrait
Sam’s Portrait – ISO 200 f/3.2 1/50

Tongue Out Tuesday is Every Day Here

Sam is a natural model, he doesn’t mind the camera and accepts the attention without batting his super ‘meowdel’ eyelids.

He is a curious cat whose colouring has deepened over the course of his stay, and there is a reason for this which really surpried me, but I guess it makes sense. The rescue organiser explained to me that ginger cats fur fades when they get poor quality nourishsment and it glow when theyare wel fed. I had no idea about this so our constant and regular feeding plus the supplement of New Zealand Omega Plus salmon oil has done him a lot of good.

Sam is still eating four sachets a day and is building up his strength and loves his kitten food, as you can see!

Tongue Out Every Day – ISO 200 f/3.2 1/160

Becoming a Confident Foster Cat

The next two photographs show how much Sam has improved in terms of his looks and his demeanour. He is more relaxed and sits close to us when we visit his room, especially when we give him a brush with the slicker. He is fluffy and soft and enjoys being a ‘high maintenance’ kitty.

Sam has a been happy to let me work around him when a sponsor donated food to the rescue and he received some tasty free tins! He sat still and I moved the tins around him which worked. I wish every feline model was so cooperative. Sam was so helpful he even volunteered for an action shot that showed him enjoying a bowl of cat food for the sponsors.

I have a rate card with my meowdeling fees – ISO 800 50mm f/3.2 1/60

Ready for My Close-Up

Finally, I thought of a nice portrait that shows Sam as the self-possessed young man he is now. Hopeful, happy and ready to move into a forever home where I hope he will be loved and spoiled. His prospective mum has seen my photos and videos of Sam and can’t wait to meet him for real.

I will update you on the results of his meet and greet. In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed seeing Sam’s portraits as he journeys from sad foster to confident kitten with the help of the Dash Kitten family.

A portrait of Sam ISO 1250 f/4 1/80

Making an Impact for Cats

I learned from City the Kitty, a respected no declaw advocate that quiet persuasion and gentle pressure is more successful than forceful speech and confrontation.

Every cat should be a wanted and loved cat, and we can make all make a difference by speaking up about spay/neutering to new pet owners in respectful ways.

As an adult literacy tutor here in New Zealand, I find that people sometimes pretend not to care about a subject like cat care because they are not sure what they need to do, or how to do it. A positive suggestion and friendly attitude is a good first step to helping people move in the right direction. You help people, and you help their cats.

STOP PRESS: Sam has gone to his forever home!

A happy foster catin his forever home looking out of the window
Photo of Sam in his forever home

How do we help cats in a positive way? Resources

  • Is there a free or cut price clinic nearby you can suggest?
  • Local spay/neuter coupons/vouchers might be availabl.,
  • Can you offer a lift to a cat owner without transport for their kittys spay surgery?
  • Could you help someone pay for their cat’s neutering surgery?


18 thoughts on “Sam the Foster Cat’s Journey”

  1. Marjorie, you’re amazing! I’m so happy for Sam and in awe of both your incredibly generous nature & your great photo skills!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  2. Aww I love this story has a happy ending. Sam sounded like such a delight to foster. You got some great shots and captured Sam’s handsome self wonderfully. Congrats to him finding his forever home!

  3. Love hearing that he has found a wonderful new forever home! I know sometimes the first home for some pets just isn’t best suited – so it’s nice to see him find one that will be able to provide him with lots of love, care, and affection.

  4. My gosh Sam is one handsome boy. Of course, he IS a marmie, so… Of COURSE he’s a handsome lad. MOUSES!

  5. Sam is a handsome kitty for sure. I was so glad to read that he’s found his forever home!

  6. We’re so glad to hear about Sam’s happy ending! I don’t know who could see that handsome dude and NOT grab him for a huge hug!

  7. Oh, WOW! Sam is such a ‘swoon-maker’ now!!
    I sure hope the meet and greet will be the beginning of the rest of his new life, happy and safe forever:)

  8. Wonderful photos, and we love you sharing how Sam is doing. Animals are so resilient and forgiving, and it sounds like Sam is doing so well as your foster. We purr and pray eh will find his happily ever after real soon.


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