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Vintage Photos of Cats Doing Human Things


Photos of animals doing human things are popular as memes these days, but the concept is far from new in the history of photography. Photographers were already shooting humorous animal photos over a century ago.

In 1898, some unknown photographer shot the amazing photo above in which “a cat is posed seated on a chair in front of another cat operating a camera.”

Starting in 1914, American photographer Harry Whittier Frees shot an entire series of photos showing cats wearing clothes and doing human things.

The Picnic
The Birthday Cake
The Wedding
The Cook
Hanging Up the Wash
A Hungry Bunch
Washing Dishes
Ten Pins
Planting Time
A Joyride
The Aviator
The Breakdown

Over the course of his career, Frees became known for his photos of posed animals that were published on postcards, in magazines, and in children’s books.

“He dressed the animals and posed them in human situations with props, often with captions,” Wikipedia says, adding that “these can be seen as progenitors of modern lolcats.”

Frees fixed his animal subjects in position using stiff costumes (made by a housekeeper), pins, and forks, and his photos were captured with 1/5s exposures. The photographer reportedly only worked three months out of the year due to how stressful this type of photography was.