It all started in 1906 when photographer Harry Whittier Frees was at a birthday party. According to a 1937 edition of Life magazine, some party guests put a paper party hat on a pet cat. Frees took a photograph and found his life calling.
Frees soon became famous for his elaborate and adorable photographs that were used in postcards, advertisements and children's books for decades.
Frees noted that his favorite subjects were cats, and that his secret to success was treating his subjects with the utmost kindness and love.
Here are our favorites:
The most common scene Frees used was 2 cats dressed in human clothing doing human activities. Here we see two friends enjoying a nice swing.Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
Frees documented the ordinary, everyday lives of cats dressed as humans, but also made sure to capture the momentous occasions (like this wedding) as well. Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
Frees meticulously designed his props and costumes. According to an interview, he would spend the majority of his time sewing costumes, building tiny props and dreaming up scenes. Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
Group shots were undoubtedly difficult to arrange, especially considering the photography equipment of the era. Here we can see that there was likely an enticing object off-camera that captured the attention the entire tea party.Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
Sometimes it was easier to let cats do cat things, despite their attire. Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
Dogs made occasional appearances as well, here as a parental/caretaker figures for the cat. Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
The most unrealistic part of this image is the dog so willingly submitting to a bath. Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
Human dolls also made the occasional appearance, giving the photos a slightly unnerving touch to the modern eye. Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914
It seems like this cat has run into some car trouble - luckily there was a donkey available to pull the couple to safety! Harry Whittier Frees, c.1914