1880, one of the first domestic cat photographs

Well, I can’t verify if the statement on Reddit.com is true that this really is one of the first domestic cat photos taken in 1880 but it seems plausible to suggest that it is one of the earliest cat photographs. The link below takes you to another, earlier article on this topic. The picture featured on this page won’t be the absolute earliest as there were earlier photographic processes such as the daguerreotype which produced a different type of quality than the image below.

RELATED: First Photo Of A Cat – the cat photo featured on the linked page was said to be the first photo of a cat taken circa 1840 to 1860. It is a daguerreotype.

The picture shows a stocky (cobby in cat fancy language) white, medium-longhaired cat. My guess is that this was an unsterilised male cat as their face is wide. Neutering male cats gives them a slightly effeminate facial appearance.

One of the first photographs of a domestic cat 1880
One of the first photographs of a domestic cat 1880. The photo is in the public domain due to the passage of time.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Early days for photography and the cat fancy

The photo was taken at a time when photography was in its early days of development. Of course, it was all analogue and there were various types of emulsions all of which were very ‘slow’ by today’s standards by which I mean the film was much less sensitive to light. This makes the photo all the more interesting as it is likely that the cat must have remained stationary for a few seconds. There may have been a few failures! 😃🙀

At the time the cat fancy was hardly in existence. It was just starting (see section below). All the cats in the world at this time and before it were moggies! No purebred cats in terms of selectively bred cats recognised by a cat association. Not a bad thing for me as I am unsure about the necessity of purebred cats and their welfare as selective breeding is highly problematic from a health standpoint.

Photography – early days

Photography’s birth depends on how you define it. There were early experiments capturing light sensitive materials, but the key moment is generally considered to be 1822.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • 1822: French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce captures the first permanent image from a camera using a process called heliography. Unfortunately, the earliest examples are lost, but this is the foundation.
  • 1826: Niépce takes the oldest surviving photograph, “View from the Window at Le Gras.” This exposure time was very long, taking hours or even days.
  • 1839: Louis Daguerre, a partner of Niépce, refines the process into the daguerreotype, which is publicly announced. This method used a much shorter exposure time, making photography more practical.

So, while there were earlier experiments, 1822 with Niépce’s first permanent image is generally considered the birth of photography.

RELATED: INFOGRAPHIC Agenda-driven research claims women were the primary hunters in hunter-gatherer societies?

Cat food – history

Another aspect of cat ownership and caregiving was in its infancy in 1880: commercially prepared cat food. It wasn’t always there. There was a time when domestic cats were all indoor/outdoor cats and hunted for their supper supplemented by human food treats. Here is a very brief history of commercial cat food, courtesy Google.

Cat food’s journey mirrors the rise of commercial pet food in general. It all started in the 1860s with the invention of dog biscuits, but it wasn’t until the 1900s that things really took off.

  • Early Days (1860s): While James Spratt gets credit for the first dog biscuit, it’s unclear when exactly cat food became available.
  • Canned Food Arrives (1930s): Canned cat food entered the scene, offering a new option for feline nutrition.
  • WWII Innovation (1940s): Metal shortages during the war led to the development of dry kibble, originally for dogs but eventually adapted for cats.
  • The Kibble Boom (1950s): The invention of the extrusion process made mass production of kibble possible, revolutionizing the pet food industry, including cat food.
  • Modernization (1960s-Onward): The industry continued to grow, with advancements in pet nutrition, marketing strategies like “prescription diets,” and a wider variety of formulas to meet different cat needs.

RELATED: History of the domestic cat living side by side with the wildcat in Britain (and Northern Europe)

Harrison Weir – the father of the cat fancy

Harrison William Weir is widely considered the “Father of the Cat Fancy” for his significant role in establishing organized cat shows and promoting purebred cats. Here’s a breakdown of his contributions:

  • The First Cat Show (1871): Weir organized the very first cat show in England at the Crystal Palace in London. This event marked a turning point for recognizing and celebrating cats as pedigreed companions.
  • Breeding Standards: Weir played a crucial role in defining early cat breeds and establishing standards for judging them at shows.
  • National Cat Club (1887): He wasn’t done yet! Weir even founded the National Cat Club, serving as its first president and show manager.

However, Weir’s influence extended far beyond cats. He was a true renaissance man with a vast range of interests:

  • Artist and Illustrator: Weir was a prolific artist, especially known for his detailed illustrations of animals and birds.
  • Animal Advocate: A passionate advocate for animal welfare, Weir’s work helped change Victorian attitudes towards animals, including cats.
  • Author: He even wrote books and articles promoting responsible pet ownership and proper cat care.

So, while Harrison Weir is best known for his role in the “Cat Fancy,” he was a remarkable individual who left a lasting mark on the world of art, animals, and even pet care practices. Source: Google Gemini.

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