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BEACON Senior News

How to get great holiday photos of your cat

Nov 22, 2023 03:15PM ● By Sara Ferguson

The web is full of memes of unhappy cats getting their pictures taken, but with Christmas around the corner, the desire to capture picture-perfect moments of your cat beneath the tree or in your grandchild’s arms is simply irresistible. But what if your cat is camera shy? Here are a few tips to capturing precious holiday photos with your cat. 

Setting: Change is scary for most cats and decorating for the holidays can make them anxious. When you get out your new decor, make sure your cat is happily part of the activity. 

If he’s a little shy of new things, rattle that treat bag and reward him when he joins in. Playing with his favorite toy while you decorate will also keep things fun and positive. 

People: Once he is feeling relaxed around the holiday decor, make sure he feels safe around any new people. Strangers in their homes—even our relatives—can feel like a home invasion to cats. They appreciate introductions using their names, just like humans do. The more you can do to let him know the new people are part of the family, the safer he will feel. 

Treats and playtime can make new people less scary. Let your company give him treats, and he should stay out happily for more. 

Background: Our homes can be visually busy, especially during the holidays. Try to choose a simple background if possible. Bonus points if the background is a sofa or cat tree that your cat already feels comfortable on. 

If you want to get that intimate shot of him with a child or aunt, take the person to him rather than trying to bring him to the person. Give them a few treats to dispense and make sure they use his name. If he’s relaxed and happy, your photos will be too. 

If your cat is dark colored, use a light background and vice versa if he’s light. Patterns are good at hiding animals, so choose a plain wall over a busy sofa if you want his photo to pop.

Lighting: Skip the flash if you can. There’s nothing like getting everyone all set up and then popping light in the face to make a cat disappear—maybe forever if he associates that with whatever device you’re using. 

If possible, place the activity near a window to capture that natural light (but avoid direct sunlight or backlighting). Natural light is great for humans and essential for capturing the nuances of black animals. 

If it’s too dark to go without a flash, tape a small piece of tissue over your flash. This will diffuse and soften the light so it doesn’t scare your cat. 

The Magic Wand. Cats don’t usually stare at each other unless they’re about to fight. That’s why slow blinks are the best way to tell them they’re safe and loved. However, a human wielding a device in their face can feel like pre-attack staring. 

To gently get their attention, use a sparkle wand, which is a stick with mylar streamers attached. Many cats adore this toy and will look up whenever you wave it. 

If he ducks or acts fearful, use a small jingly ball instead. Just make sure you’re ready for the shot when everyone looks up at the camera—including him—when you say “Cheese!” 

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