They say a picture is worth a thousand purrs — or, you know, something like that. At Kitten Rescue, a nonprofit, no-kill shelter in Los Angeles dedicated to rescuing cats and kittens from the streets and euthanasia, photos help tell the stories of the approximately 150 kitties in their care, the striking images showing each animal’s individual personality in ways words never could.
Photographer Casey Christopher snaps pics of Kitten Rescue’s residents to help the kitties find homes. With Christopher’s camera capturing the cats’ wide, soulful eyes and charmingly curious expressions, the felines become more than just another furry face in the crowd.
Here are a few examples — you’ll see what we mean.
An experienced photographer, Christopher knows how to get the most out of her feline subjects, who become notoriously finicky and distracted the moment you stick a camera in their face. Allowing kitties enough time to get comfortable with their surroundings is essential to taking great photos.
“Since I mostly photograph animals for adoption purposes, the most important thing for me is to wait until the animal is comfortable,” Christopher says. “Cats usually need a few minutes before their personalities will shine through, and that is what makes a great photo in my opinion.”
Here are a few more.
Naturally curious about anything new — even that shimmering lens you’re behind — kittens are easier to photograph than adult cats, who tend to be more fearful of new things and set in their eccentric ways. But Christopher has a bag of tricks to entice even the most difficult customer. In that bag are treats, toys, and catnip.
“Kittens are easier because they mostly look awestruck at seeing a camera, which is adorable, but older cats tend to be more timid and suspicious,” she says. “Once they get accustomed to me and my camera, usually with the help of some treats or cat nip, they reveal their unique personalities and I’m able to get the shot that I want.”
Okay. More shots of cats and kittens.
Christopher has also found that getting the camera down at “cat level” can help any animal’s personality to shine. It is, after all, the “up close and personal” photos that really make you coo at the computer screen like a doting grandmother. These are also the shots that get potential adopters to the shelter to meet the little darlings in person.
“Another tip for taking great cat photos is to make sure the animal is looking at the camera,” she says. “This can be done by holding cat treats or a squeaky toy above the lens. It also helps to be eye level with the animal, so be willing to lie down on the floor in order to get the shot you’re after. I find that eye contact really sells a photo and reveals the cat’s personality.”
Through various adoption events, Kitten Rescue finds homes for kittens and adult cats in the Los Angeles area, many of whom would have faced euthanasia or an unhappy life on the streets without intervention. The shelter also recently opened a neonatal kitten nursery. From a litter of special-needs kittens born with twisted legs to a blind six-year-old kitty needing eye surgery, Kitten Rescue is dedicated to making sure all the cats in the shelter get the care they need. Especially during kitten season, Kitten Rescue is always looking for new foster parents.
“Nursery staffers are working around the clock to keep our babies healthy, warm, and fed,” Kitten Rescue wrote in a recent Facebook post. “It’s hard work, but extremely rewarding. Many of these kittens are weaning or will wean soon and be ready to move into private foster homes where they will have more room to run around, play, and socialize with people. Fostering is a great way to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals and will help free up space in our nursery to take on more baby kittens who need our help.”
Ready for more cat shots? Okay. Here they are.
Ultimately, of course, the goal of any shelter is to help kitties find loving homes. Christopher says great photos are essential to achieving this goal, as they help get potential adopters to the shelters in the first place.
“A super cute picture of a kitten with its tongue out or with its head tilted will entice people to go meet the animal in person, whereas a photo with a kitten cowering in the back of a dark cage or looking angry with ‘airplane ears’ doesn’t motivate potential adopters as much,” she says. “On a few occasions, people have adopted certain cats based on the photographs I had taken, which is the biggest compliment I can imagine.”