A Man And His Cat

Although cats don’t make an appearance here at HenCam, I do like them. In fact, despite my parent’s “no fur-bearing animals in the house” edict, I managed to convince them to let me keep two strays. My parents, of course, ended up loving and indulging them even after I left for college. Much to my dismay, in my early twenties, I inexplicably developed a sudden allergy to cats, and no longer could breathe when my cat, Serena, slept on my pillow. It took me ages to realize that it was my beloved cat that made me sick every time I visited home. Much denial! So, that is why I don’t keep cats and regale you with cat stories and fill my blogs with cute kitten pictures. Vintage photographs will have to suffice.

This portrait dates from around 1910. I can imagine this young man walking down the street to the photography studio, black cat in his arms.  The photographer’s backdrop has seen better days. The man’s suit is ill-fitting. But, none of that matters because the sweet countenances of both cat and man shine through. I wonder who he had this photograph taken for?

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  1. My son Derek left for college and is now allergic to our two cats. He is coming home Thursday, so breathing will be difficult for him. This is a wonderful photo. I think the young man had the photo taken for himself as he loved his cat.

  2. My daughter rescued a kitten when she was in high school, and begged Dad to let her keep it “just till we find it a good home.” We had the kitty for 21 years, but my daughter was terribly allergic to her. The vet told us to bathe the cat once a week, and that did the trick. The poor cat, however, soon learned which day was bath day and disappeared. Saturdays soon became “Find the Cat” day. When my daughter moved to California after college we stopped bathing the cat, but she still hid once a week, just in case. She didn’t relax until we moved to a new house.

    • Not only did your cat know that the bath happened once a week, but what day of the week it was!
      That’s actually a very telling story about how a place can have negative connotations, and in some cases become punishment. Where we do things with our animals can influence behavior as much as what we do. We humans often see actions independent of place, but for them it is often site specific, both for good behavior and for bad. For example, your dog comes perfectly in the backyard but not at the park? And you think he’s blowing you off? He’s not. He learned “come” for one place, the backyard. You have to teach it again in the park!

      • My two dogs go into crates when while I am at work. I was off yesterday and as usual Lulu after her morning bathroom romp went into the family room down stairs and curled up on the couch. This is a daily routine and I have to go down and get her and bring her up and put her in the crate. Yesterday it was about noon before she assumed it wasn’t a work day and then spent the rest of the day with me.
        She knows the difference between the work week and weekends or more likely she knows my routine on these days.

  3. … or maybe he had the photo taken to send home to his family. I agree with Karen: it’s obvious that the young man was very fond of his cat.

  4. Terry, love the old photo! I have two felines (Peepers & Gypsy), both female and spayed. They are indoor/outdoor girls and found our home about 4 yrs ago. They stay in the backyard mostly and come inside at night. Very well behaved for strays. Both are so different in personality. Gypsy is the daredevil…..over the fence, up the trees and onto the roof. While Peepers will climb the fence however she will not go up trees or on the roof. Gypsy is quite the hunter too….I have found the bodies of birds (bad girl), mice, rats, flying squirrels and even a BAT one time….yuck! While Peepers will hunt, yard lizards are her speed….lol! I love them dearly and couldn’t imagine being without them now. My spoiled girls! =)

  5. Is that a ring on his left hand? I cannot imagine a man having a picture taken with a cat, in those days, unless it was for a woman! Perhaps it was a Valentine of his true love’s love— her man and her cat! Ha!

  6. There is something very endearing about a man who loves a cat…..I sure think so anyways. Our family have always been cat people. Our house was never without a cat or 2 or 3 and that continues today. Over the years I have had just about every colour of cat imaginable but came to the conclusion early(as a child), that Ginger male cats were my favourite. I have never yet met one of them I don`t admire. They have always been the cleverest and had the most character(but I am biased). My eldest daughter at 14 years old was enticed by a basket full of kittens while visiting the local outdoor market one summer day. She was there with her friend and decided she really needed a cat to call her very own so wisely chose the Ginger one to bring home. Our house was already brimming with various cats, a dog, birds, not to mention 5 kids so I was not thrilled. I was quickly reminded by my daughter that he was a Ginger kitten and we REALLY needed one! Well of course I caved and He(Russell), ended up being my favourite cat of all time. We all fought over who got to take him to bed….ha ha, even my husband and I loved to curl up with him, so I would sneak down to my daughter`s bed after she was asleep and kidnap him up to bed with us. I still miss that cat to this day……

  7. I especially love that it is a black cat like my Kipper. The adoption rate for black cats is 50% of that for other colors because of our silly superstitions about them. And when they shed on your black clothes, it is barely noticeable! Of course, when they shed near your computer screen it’s a different story (she said wiping a few stray hairs off hers).

    This man clearly adores that beautiful cat. And I chuckled as you described his walk to the photographer.

    • Yeah, Jean, it’s sad. The litter my Raven came from all had white feet and a bib but him. He was the most out going and super cuddly and a week later he still hadn’t found a home. He was a ‘pal’ at the shelter for an adult cat I adopted so I wound up bringing him home, too. That was 10 years ago.

      It’s as bad for black dogs. We have a shelter in a nearby city that does fund raising just to get money for all the black dogs they have. It’s a shame.

  8. We are all cat and dog people in our family. My sister rescued a stray kitten from her alley and when she put him in the sink to bathe him, he purred! I am so crazy about that cat. We call him a vampire cat because he is scared of the birds and sleeps in all day and goes out at night. I often stop by her house on the way home from work just to see him. The kids figured it out. Fortunately they are older and allow me to give him all the love. They also have another regal (Empress) cat and three dogs of varying personalities. The best home for animals.

    • By the way, my cat allergy didnt surface until I left for college, too. After about 25 years, the allergy has gone dormant and I now have a cat of my own.

  9. Let’s see: black cat in arms, bad hair style, big ears, ill-fitting suit.

    He’s GOT to be an ancestor of mine!

    I’m partial to black cats; I’ve got an old family photo (and film) of a black cat we used to have…I’m lugging him (Blackie) around at about 2 yrs. old (he was born the same day as me) and his hindquarters are dragging the ground because he’s longer than I am tall. He let me do it, guess he realized we were brothers. We lived out in the country and one night we were woke up with the sounds of him fighting a bobcat out in our driveway. He disappeared around my 13th birthday, prob. went off to die – I hope a coyote didn’t get him.

    Just got through feeding the current “B”; he doesn’t do much other than sleep these days since he’s 15+. He sometimes has an “accident” on the way to his litter box but he can’t help it.(and I know I’ll be in the same shape all too soon) He doesn’t have much time left, I’m sure, and I’m dreading “that day” and know I’ll bawl like that 2 yr. old baby I used to be. I’ve had other cats and after they’re gone I always swear I’ll never have another because I get so attached, but I suspect I’ll be heading to the animal shelter a few months after this one is gone.

  10. The man, by the looks of his shoes, suit and setting, is not monied. Perhaps this is his “heart” cat that he has had since childhood and it is now becoming frail. Such a picture would have been a splurge but maybe the only way for him to preserve her image- a tribute to his best friend. I love old pictures. Thanks for sharing such an unusual one.

  11. I LOVE this picture! I think he has a cat toy in his coat pocket, too.
    I wasn’t allowed to have an animal when I was growing up. I think my mom was a bit of a clean-freak. But… I’ve had many cats during my 40-some-odd years of adult life, usually two or three at a time – never just one. (Luckily my husband loves cats too. We have “my” cat and “his” cat – but really they own us.) I’ve been much more allergic to a few than others; and to some, not at all. Strange, huh, since cat allergy is supposed to be based on their saliva? Anyway, I’m thinking, Terry, maybe you’re not allergic to Wendy’s Midge. There might be hope for you!

  12. Your endearing description of the photograph brought tears to my eyes! Thanks to your sharp eyes and insight, I looked at it more closely and could FEEL how much that young man loved his cat.

  13. That was a a man with a good heart. I know I was married to one who didn’t .

    • Sorry to hear that about your ex. I know someone who broke up with a boyfriend because her dog wouldn’t take a steak from him. She trusted her dog’s opinion more than her own, and she was right.

  14. Ms. Terry, I love the vintage pictures that you find. Black cats are actually my favorite cats. We had a long haired black cat once. She was beautiful. I grew up with cats since I was a tiny tot.

  15. That black cat looks a little cross eyed. I wonder if the cat is prize winning mouser, and that is why he or she was photographed. Terry you gotta know that it is theorized know that cats domesticated themselves , and so did dogsAnd all the billion domestic cats in the world are descended from as few as eleven self domesticating African wildcat from as far back as 9,000 years ago I do wonder if other domestic animals also domesticated themselves like horses, chickens or even cattle also decided to move in with us on their own instead of us going into the wild to get them.

    • Many species have evolved along and in concert with humans. It’s hypothesized that we wouldn’t be who we are without the domesticated animals that changed with us. Even some weeds evolved to live alongside humans. Compared to the number of species out there, there are very few that are domesticated, and they are because they have innate traits that enable them to live with us.