My husband, Ian, is lovingly referred to as “Mr. Catwhisperer” because he has an uncanny ability to calm stressed cats. I am incredibly lucky to have him as my assistant at many portrait sessions. He’s not just a helper though. Without his patience and dedication I would simply not be able to get the wonderful cat portraits that I’ve gotten.
When we meet a new cat we first have to identify what motivates them. Most cats respond to attention and catnip, but treats and toys are also popular amongst our feline models. Some cats are rather intimidated by being exposed, forgive the pun. These cats don’t appreciate being up on a table in front of the lights and would much rather be exploring under chairs or snuggled in a warm lap.
When a cat doesn’t take readily to staying on the table Ian spends a few minutes with them, usually wrapping his arms around them to make them feel secure. When he feels the cats become less tense he slowly backs off, all the while scratching behind their ears, shoulders, and back. It’s really a joy to watch him work.
Quite honestly, posing cats is not hard. That surprises many people, but I always think of it as giving the cat a reason to be in a given pose. Many of my portraits are not posed, but there are certain positions that work for cats and some that don’t. If I want a cat to lay on their side I give Ian the cue and he will usually scratch the cat behind one ear and shoulder and lure them to the table. Frisky cats will require more attempts at this since they tend to pop right back up after laying down.