8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

Photographing cats in an unfamiliar environment can be quite a challenge! Moreover, cats have their own will and often prefer to do things their own way.

Cats are amazing creatures, and once they are comfortable, you can quickly capture the most beautiful photos of them! However, keep in mind that not all cats are suitable for being photographed in an unfamiliar environment. Many cats are only transported when they go to the vet, so it is not always easy to relax them in a strange environment.

Below, I’ll give you some tips to ensure that the cat feels as comfortable as possible during the photoshoot!

1. Put the cat in a basket

Don’t immediately expose the cat to the scene, but place them somewhere first. This could be a basket, a cardboard box, anything as long as the cat can hide in it.

Many cats will tend to hide in a strange environment.

From the basket or box, they can decide at their own pace when they are ready. Usually, curiosity wins out after a while, and they come out!

This ragdoll kitten was a bit impressed by the new environment but gradually peeked out!

8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

The Maine Coon cat below felt no need for acclimatization and decided to strike a top pose right away in the basket!

8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

2. Work at height

Use a platform or table to elevate the cat. A cat will feel safer when they are elevated, and it’s also much easier for the photographer during the shoot if they don’t have to bend down all the time. This beautiful Maine Coon was sitting on a high table where I placed a mirror. You can read more about different studio surfaces here.

8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

Most cats enjoy climbing, so you can also take advantage of that during your shoot by providing a ladder. It’s also convenient if you’re working with multiple cats at once!

8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

3. Catnip

Catnip produces a substance that has a strong attraction for many cats.

Therefore, it is often incorporated into cat toys to give cats a good feeling. Not all cats respond to catnip, but it is definitely worth having it at home and trying it out!

In the toys below, catnip is incorporated, and it had a positive effect on the cat!

8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

4. Different cat toys

Every cat is different, and each cat also has a preference for a different type of toy. I have a Ragdoll and a Siberian cat myself. The Ragdoll loves feathers and even fetches them, but he doesn’t get excited about a wand toy. On the other hand, the Siberian doesn’t pay any attention to feathers but gets very excited when I bring out the wand toy!

Therefore, it’s handy to have different types of cat toys at home and find out what they prefer. Often, the owners know this best and already bring the right toys along during the photoshoot. Many cats may not start playing immediately, and this is perfectly normal. Let them get used to the environment first, and then see if you can make them happy with a game!

This Egyptian Mau was very excited to play with the feather, while the cats below found the wand much more enjoyable!

8 tips for a relaxed cat in the studio

5. Keep owner nearby

Personally, I try to avoid touching or handling the cat because this can be very threatening for some cats. For dogs, it’s often a good idea to completely ignore them at first and let them take the initiative if they want to make contact with you. Explain to the owner as clearly as possible where you want the cat to be, and set up your lighting so that the owner can always stay nearby. The cat will feel much more comfortable.

6. Experiment with liquid snacks

Liquid snacks for cats are treats specially designed to reward a cat. You can buy them in convenient packaging or tubes, and they often contain flavors that cats love, such as chicken, fish, or liver. I always have a variety of liquid snacks with different flavors at home.

As you can see in the photos below, they can also come in handy to lure a cat through a cardboard box with its head or to create fun lollipop photos!

8 tips voor een relaxe kat in de studio

8 tips voor een relaxe kat in de studio

7. Be patient and respectful

As with all animals, patience is necessary when dealing with cats. The more you force the cat, the more it will withdraw and be unwilling to cooperate. Let them acclimate and try to figure out what the cat needs to feel comfortable.

Once the cat has decided that the environment is safe, it will strike the most beautiful poses that you could never have dreamed of! Look at this handsome one below just rolling around blissfully, and even the ragdoll was fine with posing together with a toy after a while.

8 tips voor een relaxe kat in de studio

8 tips voor een relaxe kat in de studio

8. Knowledge of cat behaviour

Personally, I find it fascinating to read books about cats and their behavior. It doesn’t have to be about photography at all. Books about cat breeding, behavioral problems in cats, different cat breeds and their specific characteristics, etc… It gives you a better understanding of the marvelous “being” of the cat and helps you to understand a cat’s behavior more quickly.

Bengal cats, like the one in the photo below, have a completely different character than, for example, a ragdoll. It’s useful to be able to adapt to this during the photoshoot.

It’s also helpful to quickly recognize aggression signals in cats such as growling, hissing, fixating, etc… to avoid further escalation. The British Shorthair kittens clearly had no intention of sharing the couch for the photo!

8 tips voor een relaxe kat in de studio

8 tips voor een relaxe kat in de studio

Cats are wonderful animals to work with in the studio, and once they are comfortable, you can capture beautiful photos of them! I hope the above tips can help bring out the best in your model!

Would you like to further specialize in photographing cats? Consider attending a cat photography workshop to learn everything about it!

8 tips voor een relaxe kat in de studio
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