Category: cat photography

Amazing Cats: The Puma

What would domestic cats be like if they were the same size as big cats?

It’s a question that seems to pop up often on cat-centric and Q&A sites and the answer is complex, but it turns out nature has given us a pretty good idea with the puma.

Also known as the cougar, mountain lion and the more generic panther (which can be a name for jaguars and leopards as well), the puma is big, but genetically it’s related to small cats and it shares some physical features with our familiar domestic kitties.

It’s capable of the intimidating wild cat scream often heard from the largest felines, but the puma can’t roar like big cats. Instead, it purrs like its smaller relatives, and it can even meow with the best of them!

Visually, the puma is a striking animal — it’s muscular with a shiny tan coat and facial features reminiscent of both panthera and felis. While its ears more closely resemble those of small cats (felis), the puma’s eyes have circular irises like its larger cousins.

The Majestic Puma
Pumas, also known as mountain lions and cougars, are the widest-ranging cats in the world.

It’s also remarkably adaptive. The puma boasts the largest range of any cat, and is found all throughout South and North America. Here in good ol’ ‘Merica, the cat ranges from the coastal mountains of California to the forests of New England, and a subspecies — the famous Florida Panther — occupies swampland and dense jungle habitats.

After the jaguar, it’s the second-largest cat in the Western Hemisphere.

The puma is a wild animal, meaning its place is out in the world fending for itself, protecting its territory, hunting, mating, grooming and sleeping a lot, like all cats do. Pumas are emphatically not pets.

Yet pumas have a disposition closer to house cats than big cats, meaning they’re not hostile to humans by default, and much like feral cats, they’ll go out of their way to avoid humans.

Again — and it cannot be emphasized enough — pumas are wild animals who belong in the wild, but there have been rare cases where the big-little cats have lived with humans when circumstances make it impossible to return them to their natural habitat.

In some cases it’s because the puma is maimed and can no longer hunt for itself, while others remain under human care because they were born into zoos or circuses and literally do not know how to live like wild cats. Those animals are better off in sanctuaries than left to fend for themselves, which they’re unable to do, but should only be cared for by professionals.

Puma leaping
While they aren’t hostile to humans by default, pumas can tip the scales at 220 pounds and are capable of rendering serious damage.

While pumas don’t have any interest in hunting or harming humans, that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Males can tip the scales at up to 220 pounds, while females can weigh as much as 140.

That’s a LOT of cat: Most of us know the kind of damage 10-pound domestic felines are capable of rendering, especially with sharp claws and teeth that can shred delicate human skin. A 220-pound puma, while not as lethal as a tiger pushing 600-plus pounds, can fatally injure a human being.

Thankfully, these animals are famously elusive and confrontations with humans are exceedingly rare.

buddy_september2019_alt
That’s 10 pounds of pure muscle to you, mister! Everyone knows Buddy is ripped!

 

 

Adorable Smiling Kitten Proves Cats Appreciate Being Rescued

Do cats understand and appreciate when humans rescue them?

It’s a question that comes up often, even though cat owners servants are quick to answer in the affirmative based on their own experiences with thankful felines.

Thanks to a tiny rescue kitten named Blossom and her beaming smile, any doubts can be officially put to rest. Here’s Blossom happily posing for the camera in the home of her foster mom, Lauren Boutz of New Mexico:

Blossom the Smiling Kitten
“Get my good side! Got it? Good!”

Blossom and her two sisters are receiving round-the-clock care from Boutz and her boyfriend, who have taken over mom duties for the orphaned trio.

The grateful kitty’s sunny mug has been shared a few thousand times since Boutz shared the photos to Facebook. Like all good models, Blossom has several looks.

Blossom the Smiling Kitten
“My other good side!”

 

Blossom
“You cannot resist my cuteness…play with me!”
Blossom the Smiling Kitten
A natural in front of the camera.

Now if we could only get a certain grouch around here to smile…Why so serious all the time, Bud?

Buddy Buddy Buddy!
Zoolander never smiled either!

The Absurd Reason Why People Won’t Adopt Black Cats

Felines are a traditionally misunderstood lot, but no one gets it worse than black cats.

The poor little furballs are much less likely to find forever homes because of superstitions that won’t die, including claims that black cats are bad luck or agents of the devil.

While today is National Black Cat Day, many shelters across the US won’t adopt black cats out around Halloween, and sometimes for the entire month of October. The temporary moratorium is for the safety of black cats, who are much likely to be abducted, abused, killed or ritually sacrificed this time of year, according to animal welfare groups.

As if black cats didn’t have it bad enough, the age of social media has given people another reason to avoid black cats, this time for the most vapid of reasons: They supposedly don’t look good in selfies and Instagram shots.

Handsome Black Cat

Christine Bayka, who founded a rescue shelter more than two decades ago, tells the Telegraph that potential adoptees admit they’re passing on black cats for that reason.

“It happens all the time, I will go through all the questions and say ‘are you flexible about colour?'” Bayka said. “Then they will say, ‘Yes, as long as it’s not black.'”

As usual the fault lies with humans, not cats: If you can’t take a decent shot of a black cat it’s because you don’t know how to use your camera, not because the cat is impossible to photograph properly. After all, we never hear of nature photographers passing up opportunities to snap melanistic jaguars because it’s too difficult.

Black Jaguar
A melanistic jaguar.

But we’re in luck thanks to pro photographers sharing tips on how to capture the sublime beauty of these little panthers. Fuss with a few settings, make sure the lighting is right, choose a high-contrast background and you’re well on your way. There are even tips for getting better shots using your iPhone.

In honor of National Black Cat Day, here’s ample proof that they can look spectacular in photographs:

blackcat1
Focusing on the eyes and adjusting the contrast can yield some fantastic results, capturing the regal side of black cats.
cuteblackcat
Kittens don’t need help looking cute. Just make sure you’re allowing enough light into the scene.
blackcat4
This kitty looks like a legit panther thanks to a dramatic contrast between the black fur and the stone in the background, as well as an emphasis on his piercing yellow eyes.
blackcat5
A dramatic contrast with the background helps this close-up pop.
blackcat2
The classic black on black: This cat is not to be messed with!
blackcat7
With a healthy contrast in colors, details like whiskers and the cat’s tongue stand out.
Black Kitten
Okay, maybe this kitten looks like he’s planning world domination from his secret lair, but he’s looking quite handsome while doing it.

And last but not least, from reader Anna K and her handsome little panther, Frank:

Frank the Cat
Look at those eyes!

 

An Early Stocking Stuffer for Cat Lovers

Walter Chandoha might not be a household name, but he’s a legend among photography enthusiasts and — most importantly for readers of this blog — a true OG of feline photography.

Chandoha, who took more than 90,000 photographs of photogenic kitties, passed away earlier this year at the ripe old age of 98. We don’t know the secrets to the photographer’s longevity, but it’s a good bet all that time spent with cute cats was a major contributor.

The New Jersey native and NYU graduate didn’t set out to become the most celebrated cat photographer. His work appeared on hundreds of magazine covers before the fluffy little carnivores pulled him into their world:

In 1949, Walter Chandoha adopted a stray kitten in New York. When he began taking pictures of his new pet, Loco, he was so inspired by the results that he started photographing kittens from a local shelter, thereby kickstarting an extraordinary career that would span seven decades

Now those photos are collected in a book called, appropriately, Cats: Photographs 1942-2018.

chandohacats1
A pair of Chandoha’s kitty muses.

Fashion has Helmut Newton, architecture has Julius Shulman, and cat photography has Walter Chandoha. In 1949, his encounter with a stray kitten blossomed into a career that elevated feline portraiture to an art form. This is a tribute not just to these beguiling creatures but also to a remarkable photographer who passed away this year at the age of 98; and whose compassion can be felt in each and every frame.

Walter Chandoha Cat Photography
Hello, kitten!
Walter Chandoha cat photography
“Why are humans always putting us in baskets?”
Walter Chandoha
Chandoha and one of his feline models in the 1950s.
Walter Chandoha Cat Photography
Walter Chandoha was photographing adventure cats before it was cool.
Walter Chandoha Cat Photography
“Hey, get outta my milk, tiny human!”

Chandoha’s “Cats” and two other collections of his cat photographs (Walter Chandoha’s Book of Kittens & Cats, Walter Chandoha: Cat Photographer) can be found at Amazon.

Buddy
“Hey! What about me? I want to be in a cat photography book!”