As a rule, I’ve opted for “professional” trained cats when a specific action is required. On a recent project to create the imagery for a line of cat food packaging, pros were the natural choice. Having an animal repeatedly “hit the mark” made composition, lighting, and camera setup much easier, and gave the client a level of comfort that we would deliver the shot they anticipated.
Amateur and rescue cats are another important part of my talent pool when a simple action is needed or maximum spontaneity is required. During the casting process, our animal handler will carefully determine each cat’s disposition and skills. Once we’ve found a selection with the personality we desire we can concentrate on a specific “look”. In most cases we select 2 cats for each shot, a first choice and back-up, in case our hero decides to act… like a cat! From then on it’s repetition, anticipation, and patience: the three ingredients required to capture the perfect image.