"An exploration of the close relationships between Americans and their cats, during a significant period for photography and modern understandings of animals as pets."—Cat Fancy
"While on the surface, this book may appear to be just a discussion of cat photos, it really is telling the human story. The Photographed Cat is a well-crafted book that will appeal to a variety of audiences."—Contemporary Sociology
"One comes away from The Photographed Cat with an understanding of the evolution of human-animal relationships and the realization that Americans have long loved and pampered their pets, regarding them as intimate friends and cherished family members. The text of the book is well-written and insightful and avoids sentimentality. The photographs are even more spot-on and stunning. Those interested in animal sociology, the American family, or early twentieth-century photography will appreciate this book—as, of course, will cat lovers."—Journal of American Culture
With more than 130 illustrations, The Photographed Cat: Picturing Close Human-Feline Ties, 1900–1940 is both an archive and an analytical exploration of the close relationships between Americans and their cats during a period that is significant for photography and for modern understandings of animals as pets. This volume examines the cultural implications of feline companions while also celebrating the intimacy and joys of pets and family photographs. In seven thematic sections, Arluke and Rolfe engage with the collection of antique images as representations of real relationships and of ideal relationships, noting the cultural trends and tropes that occur throughout this increasingly popular practice. Whether as surrogate children, mascots, or companions to women, cats are part of modern American life and visual culture.
Entertaining, smart, and filled with a collector’s trove of wonderful images, The Photographed Cat pays homage to the surprising range of relationships we have with cats and offers thoughtful consideration of the ways in which we represent them.
Arnold Arluke is professor of sociology and anthropology at Northeastern University. He is the author of numerous books on animal-human interactions including Beauty and the Beast: Human-Animal Relations Revealed in Real Photo Postcards, 1905–1935, coauthored with Robert Bogdan.
Lauren Rolfe is a collector of early twentieth-century animal photographs.
8.5 x 11, 168 pages, 131 black and white illustrations