By Julia Williams
Have you ever wondered what the world looks like to a cat? I have, and with the advent of lightweight “cat cams” that you can attach to your kitty’s collar, anyone can get a feline’s eye view of their home, their garden or the neighborhood. That’s really all Seattle residents Michael and Deirdre Cross had in mind when they put a digital camera on their outdoor cat Cooper one fateful day back in 2007. The camera was designed to take a photo every two minutes, and Michael and Deirdre were just hoping Cooper would show them where he goes all day and who he hangs out with – a “snapshot” of a typical outdoor cat’s day, if you will.
The photographs Cooper brought back did that, and more. So much more, in fact, that his work has exhibited in art galleries from Seattle to Chicago to London. “Cooper the Photographer Cat” has been featured on Animal Planet’s Must Love Cats, Today Show Australia, Good Morning America and in People Magazine. Two years ago, Cooper snagged Seattle Magazine’s “Best of 2009” and this February was honored in the magazine’s “Best of the Decade” category. Not one to rest on his paws, the talented celebricat has even published a new book titled Cat Cam: The World of Cooper the Photographer Cat. The book is available on Amazon.com for $19.95, and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the nonprofit shelter, PAWS: Progressive Animal Welfare Society.
I’ve viewed Cooper’s photos on his website, on Facebook and Flickr, and have to tell you I am truly impressed. Though skeptics might say he’s merely an accidental artist, I disagree. His photos seem perfectly and purposely framed, and many of them tell a story. Two of my favorites include one where a dog can be seen intently staring at Cooper from an apartment window, and another where the sidewalk shows a shadow of Cooper’s head.
Although there are some recurring characters in his photos, “Cooper is a pretty solitary fellow when he’s out with his camera,” said Michael. “He usually sticks to photographing the landscape, trees and plants. Every now and then we get a surprise cameo appearance from a human subject.” Cooper, who turns six in September, also has a YouTube channel and is now shooting some footage with his new Video Cat Cam.
Ever the gracious feline, Cooper recently took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for me. I really enjoyed getting to know this talented pussycat, and hope you do too!