People estimate that the world is home to approximately 600 million cats. Consider that for a moment: What a grand amount of cats, right? So even if you have years and years of feline experience, you’ve probably met only the tiniest fraction of a single percent of cats in the world. Jesse Hunter, while not reaching 600 million, has probably met more than you have. He spent 18 months traveling the globe snapping felines for his All the Cats in the World photo book.
The project took form after he quit his job as a designer in Melbourne, Australia, and set off on a global trek with his traveling partner and camera in tow, determined to “take lots of photos everywhere we visited.” After a while, Jesse noticed that many of his photos involved cats and dogs — so he began turning his travels into a couple of photo projects. (There’s also a companion book starring dogs.)
With All the Cats in the World now available, I spoke to Jesse about his experience cat-spotting in 44 countries, including the “cat heaven” of Morocco, camouflaged cats in Jordan, and a Cheetah in Tanzania that got away.
Was there a specific cat image that set the tone for the book?
Our trip started briefly in London then straight onto Morocco for a month. Morocco is cat heaven. The cats I met and photographed in particularly Chefchaouen really got me hooked on not just interacting with the cute floofs but also trying to photograph them in the most interesting way possible.
Where were some of the most exotic places you photographed cats?
As I mentioned, in Chefchaouen, Morocco, there were loads of cats roaming around the stunning blue and white homes. Then in Santorini, Greece, I saw cats sat at their front doors with the most beautiful cliff and ocean backdrop behind them. Also, in Petra in Jordan, the ginger cats were camouflaged among the epic orange rock formations — spectacular!
Which country seemed to be the most proudly cat crazy?
The most cat crazy countries I visited were Morocco and Greece.
As you began to photograph more cat and dogs, did you notice any differences between their demeanor and personality?
Cats are definitely more aloof, precise, and weary in the way they approach you whereas dogs are the opposite — they are generally so ecstatic to see you and run up to you for pats and love. So it was often trickier to get a good photo of the cats as they can be so quick to run away.
Did any eye-catching cats prove too elusive to capture with a photograph?
Only a big cat, a Cheetah, when I was on safari in Tanzania at Serengeti National Park.
Who’s the cat on the cover of the book?
I met this floof while walking along the Camino De Santiago in Spain. I was passing through a tiny town and spotted this amazing red door — in fact all the doors and windows on this house were red — and spotted this beautiful kitty posing for me who didn’t move the entire time I was there. So I didn’t disturb her floofiness and just took loads of snaps. Such a beauty could only adorn the front of my book.
Did you find yourself in any dangerous situations?
My partner Mikala and I were walking down a street just over the Ecuadorian border in Peru and a man ran up beside Mikala and grabbed her camera bag, yanked it so it broke, and ran off to his mate waiting on a motorbike and rode off. The local people were so kind and took us in to a shop where they called the police for us. They told us we should not have been on this particular street as it’s not even safe for local people to walk down. Luckily I had two cameras so Mikala could keep taking photographs on our adventure.
All the Cats in the World is available now.