Alexis Reynaud is selling fine art prints on his website of a series of cats standing on their hind legs. They look interesting. I’m sure that there will be widespread praise. However, for me, the interest that I have in these images is how he managed to get them all to stand up on their hind legs.
Reynaud had the idea from Puss-in-boots. He calls the photos, ‘Standing Cats‘.
Some cats do, quite naturally, stand up on their hind legs but they sit on their bottoms with their tail spread backwards (as a stabiliser) when they do it. You very, very rarely see cats standing on their hind legs with their hind legs extended to any extent. There is one notable picture of a feral cat doing this on the internet in a standoff with another cat.
It seems to me there are only two ways to achieve this. The first is the more natural, namely you hold a cat ‘tease’ (feather on stick) above the cat which is very appealing to the cat and he tries to grab it. For a very short space of time he may go on his hind legs and try and grab the tease with his forepaws. The photographer instantly grabs the moment as the cat descends to a more natural position.
The other way would be far more artificial. An assistant would hold the cat in an upright position. The photographer would immediately take the photograph i.e. within a split second, when the assistant releases the cat. I suspect that this is the way it was done.
This is because in all the photographs the cats’ forelegs are in the down position. They would be in the upward position if the cat was trying to grab a tease. Another forced way would be if the cats had been dropped from a few inches having held them around their chest with the hind legs dangling down. As they make contact with the tabletop they are then in the vertical position with their forelegs pointing downwards. Within a split second afterwards they are on all four legs.
Don’t forget that these photographs were almost certainly taken using strobe light. This is high-speed lighting. Everything is frozen giving the impression that the cat is static when in fact it’s a fleeting moment and the cat is moving quickly.
If I’m correct, and I am truly speculating, I don’t like the photographs because I don’t think this is a decent way to treat cats. It would be exploitation of a mild kind for commercial gain. The photographs are being praised and I can understand that. However, it is useful to look behind the images and ask how they were achieved.