How to Take a Cat Photo With Your Feline (Like a Pro)

Updated October 14, 2021
Portrait of a beautiful fluffy cat with blue eyes

As a proud cat parent, you want to show the world how cute your feline friend is. Fortunately, you don't have to be a professional to capture fantastic cat photos. Whether it's for your social media account, scrapbook, or a holiday card, there are a few techniques you can use to get a post-worthy picture of your cat every time.

Things You Need for Cat Photographs

Before you begin, make sure you have all necessary supplies.

  • Camera - You can use your smartphone, digital camera, or film camera.
  • Toys - Toys that crinkle, squeak, or make noise are great for getting your cat's attention. Wand toys are excellent for action shots.
  • Lighting - You'll need proper lighting from the sun, ceiling light, or lamp.
  • Treats - If your cat is food-motivated, you can use treats to beckon them for a photo or as a reward after.
  • Props - For holiday shoots, it can be fun to include props or costumes. Just be sure they don't frighten your cat.
  • Your cat - Don't forget the star of the photos!

How to Take a Great Cat Photo

When you're ready to shoot, you must first set the scene. Consider where your cat feels most comfortable -- perhaps a favorite chair, couch, bed, or even the kitchen counter. Make sure the area where you intend to take photos is free of distracting clutter or cords. A simple background is best to highlight your special feline.

Guide your cat to the desired location with a treat or favorite toy, then let them settle in. The most important thing to remember when attempting to take a picture of your cat is to be patient. A forced photo will not only be frustrating for both you and your cat, but it will look like just that -- a forced photo. Candid pics are far more unique and appealing.

hand taking photo of a tabby cat napping

Posing Cats for Pictures

Cats typically aren't like dogs who will sit for you on command. They're aloof, which means there's a very slim chance you'll be able to pose your cat. Instead, allow them to get comfortable and rest in whatever position they choose. This will make for the most natural photos.

Once your cat has settled into a sitting or lying position, you can work to encourage them to look at the camera. Use a noisy crinkle toy, a "cluck" of your tongue, or a snap to attempt to bring their gaze to you. Depending on your cat, this may or may not work. Be careful with how much enthusiasm you use to make a sound though, as this call might prompt your cat to get up, which could ruin your pic.

If you'd like to capture your cat in action, grab a wand toy. Better yet, have a friend move the toy while you focus on shooting photos. With a target to chase, your kitty will likely feel motivated to jump and pounce, making for great shots.

Great Times to Catch Cats for Photos

The best time to snap photos of your cat depends on your desired end result. For shots of them curled up in slumber, plan to take photos when they're most sleepy. However, if you want to show off your cat's athletic and feisty side, it's best to catch them during a period of high activity.

Many cats are very alert and eager to please right before mealtimes. You can even use morsels of food to get your cat's attention, or as a reward to encourage them to cooperate. Just be aware that each cat is an individual, so this strategy might have the opposite effect, as some hungry cats may not be willing to sit still long enough for a photo!

Jumping ginger kitten

Best Lighting for Cats

Natural sunlight is typically the best lighting for feline photos. Whether you're indoors or out, use daylight to your advantage. Just be careful on very sunny days, as direct sunlight can create distracting shadows or prompt your cat to squint. Aim for earlier or later in the day, or anytime when it's overcast.

If it's dark out, you can use a ceiling light or floor lamp to illuminate your cat. Do not use your flash for a number of reasons: it can frighten your pet, cause them to close their eyes, or create a red eye appearance in your photo.

Angles to Try

It can be fun to play with different angles when snapping photos. Try one or all of these favorites when photographing your cat.

  • Bird's-eye view - If your cat is peacefully curled up in a ball, you can capture a sweet photo from directly above. This approach works best if you're able to quietly approach your cat without waking them up.
  • From their level - Move to the floor to take photos on your cat's level. This perspective can allow you to capture your entire pet, rather than just what you typically see from a human height. They'll appear like the powerful, fierce hunters they are. And if you're feeling brave, try laying on the floor to snap pictures.
  • Underneath - With the help of a clear glass table, you can take unique photos of your cat from below. Simply draw your cat to the top of the table, then shoot photos from underneath. The resulting images are silly and unique.
  • Closeup - If your cat can remain still and you have a high-quality camera, you can snap closeup photos. A favorite is a cute closeup of their nose.
cute kitten licking glass table

Additional Tips

Ready to level up your cat photography? Implement these easy strategies.

  • If you're using a phone camera, instead of capturing single images, consider using the burst feature. This will allow you to take multiple photos simultaneously, which can be helpful for squirmy cats who can't sit still. You can then review them to pick your favorite frame.
  • Costumes and props are fun for holiday photos, but be sure you slowly introduce them to your cat. In the days or even weeks leading up to your photo session, get your kitty used to these items. This will help prevent them from getting spooked.
  • The eyes are the window to the soul, and a cat's eyes give dramatic effect to any photo. Make sure the eyes are in focus to create expressive images.
  • Rest your hand against a steady object to stabilize your camera and reduce camera shake. This will help keep your cat photos sharp.

Cat Photos Hold Cherished Memories

Capturing photos of your cat can be a great bonding experience if done the right way. Be sure to practice patience, stay calm, and have fun through the process. The final result will be a special image that you can cherish for years.

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How to Take a Cat Photo With Your Feline (Like a Pro)