Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have a complicated relationship with posed cat photos. I find a lot of them (think cat weddings, cat hanging laundry, cats using a short-wave radio type Harry Whittier Frees photos) smarmy and the cats vaguely drugged and tormented looking. However, once in a while Frees and his wanna be’s hit it on the nose for me. (See a past post, Flying Dutch Kitties for a favorite example.) These cards by an unidentified photographer are another example.

Although neither card has been mailed, the second one has the following written in a neat script on the back, Mrs. Wm. Durrant, 810 West Fifth St, Plainfield, NJ.

I especially like the first shot – this cat looks nicely set up with the drinks and pipes, paws folded neatly in front of him. The cards seem a shade less than professional somehow and there is no studio marking or numbering system. The cat appears to be a gray tuxedo – a cat who is always in formal wear, by definition. Despite my disparaging of some of the Frees photos, I readily admit to a yen to pop a pair of specs on the kitties, bunny ears – or perhaps a well chosen chapeau. As I have mentioned previously, Kim has rescued the kits from this fate. I know it is undignified, but I can’t help but think it would be so much fun! I almost wonder if this was an early, similar attempt by someone with a well behaved cat.

This kind of dressing the cats up fiesta, always leads me to thinking about the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Dogville Comedy shorts. Made between 1929 and 1931, these shorts, enacted with an all dog cast, usually featured dog-centric remakes of popular recent films of the day. The selection of these on Youtube was a bit thinner than I expected. However, for those of you who have not experienced these before I will recommend you give this group of three a try, Dogville ComediesThe Dogway Melody is perhaps the best of the lot and is the last.

As with the cats posed in the Frees photos, sadly one has to assume not all was happy in Dogland when these were being made. Still, in my mind I imagine instead, a series of Catville shorts with all cat casts – all singing, all dancing cat productions!

Flying Dutch Kitties



Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: There are endless examples of early images of kittens dressed up and doing cute human-type things. However, I have never purchased one until this one hit my radar recently. It just cracks me up! As you can see by the writing, it is Dutch. A very rough translation gratis Google tells me that this is a bit of advertising and the back informs the recipient (this one not used) that the vendors hope to see them this week and that they offer high value for their orders – whatever those might be. The front makes reference to “our kitties which will soon be in the air!” (Any readers who speak Dutch please reply below!) What were these kitties selling? I’m buying!

I am always threatening to dress the cats up and take their photo – Kim begs me not to injure their dignity that way and I am brought to my senses. This image strikes me as a perfect marriage of low tech and professional – like those glorious ‘homemade’ cars and machines the Little Rascals used to have. I especially love the balloon!

I gather the key mover behind the cats-dressed-as-people movement was Harry Whittier Frees (1879-1953) – sort of a Louis Wain of early photography. I snatched the quote below from Wikipedia and it come from his own book, Animal Land on the Air, discussing the superiority of kittens as models,

Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many ‘human’ parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. Yay kittens!

The practice spread widely beyond Whittier Frees – as we can assume this card was made by someone else. For a healthy serving of these I suggest this site on I have stolen a single image from it, shown below by an unidentified photographer.