Because Cats Are Jerks: A Photo Calendar Plan Gone Wrong

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Because Cats Are Jerks: A Photo Calendar Plan Gone Wrong

cats are jerks cat calendar

UPDATE: Thank you to all that supported this effort! Our calendar raised a grand total of $1,063.84 for Karma Cat +Zen Dog Rescue!

Let me preface this post with – I LOVE ANIMALS.

All of them.

But cats are jerks – sometimes even assholes.

(And if I offend anyone with this term, I am sorry – this post is all in fun and most people I know who love cats – get it!)

I actually have a cat – and I always knew she was an asshole, but I thought it was just her.

I was wrong.

Like those moments where we are enjoying alone time and she is purring then bites me for no reason. Seriously, like why do cats purr and then bite you for no reason at all?

My most recent life lesson is understanding why more photographers are not out there scrambling to put together cat calendars as fundraisers for the shelters or rescues they love. I have done a fundraising calendar in the past – but it was just dogs. That was easy.

I am a pet photographer – I think I am actually pretty good, not the best but good. I can normally engage any animal and typically walk away from every session thrilled with some of the images I took.

But that was not the case with this project.

Because – well, cats are assholes.

They are cute as hell – they are fun and can be entertaining – sometimes they are even snuggly and cute, but the rest of the time they are probably being assholes.

My Brilliant Idea for Karma Cat + Zen Dog Rescue

I had done shelter photography for a while but had taken a leave of absence due to burnout and the stress of the rescue world. But after a couple of years off I decided I was ready to get back into things. I pulled out my camera started practicing to make sure my skills were in tact and decided to jump in 100% to a project.

I had met Christie from Karma Cat Zen Dog a few years ago and hit it off instantly. She is a top notch rescuer and I admired and respected her and see all the good she does in her rescue – with no drama!  πŸ™‚

I noticed they had never done a photo calendar fundraiser and figured I would ask if she would be interested in doing one and she came back with a Heck Yeah! I was pretty psyched and excited to start planning to make this an amazing fundraiser that will not only expand her reach and visibility – but of course raise much needed funds for her rescue.

I started taking notes and planning and was super excited to get started.

Now, let me note that I had taken photos of shelter cats before – many times, but never had any major difficulties getting great shots. I clearly did not allocate how much different they would be in their own homes.

Recent Excitement About Karma Cat + Zen Dog!

We were thrilled to hear about their adoption center they planned on opening a few months ago – and we are excited to announce they have officially opened! We hope to be able to go to their grand opening which is taking place this Sunday – July 29th and will be sure to share some photos if we do!

We think this is a fantastic step for our local community to be educated and find their next family member! We wish the whole team at Karma nothing but success!

If you are located in NJ, then please try and stop by when you are in the area:

Karma Cat+Zen Dog Rescue Society
39 South Main Street
Milltown, NJ 08850

This makes us extra happy that our calendar proceeds are going to something so awesome!

The Contest

Karma Cat + Zen Dog 2019 Calendar contest

So the goal was to have Karma Cat reach out to their volunteers and supporters to engage them and have them submit their kitties adopted from the rescue to take part in the calendar.

Here is an outline of the contest portion of the calendar:

  • We created a photo contest on WooBox where supporters could submit a photo and description of their cat – we allowed this to be live for 2 weeks or so.
  • Once the photos were submitted we allowed 2 weeks for public voting. The contestants could share and promote their kitties to get the most votes so they could get their cat in the photo calendar.
  • The 12 cats with the most votes would receive a photo session and have spot in the calendar. One lucky kittie will also get the cover!

Once the contest was done we reached out to each of the contestants and setup their specific photo sessions times. Because the cats were all over we setup a few days – one day I did 6 sessions – so needless to say I was stressed and underestimated just how hard cats were.

The Calendar Theme

I brainstormed with my cat loving daughter on some theme ideas for the calendar. I love the idea of a theme in a calendar that ties it all together and this was something really important to me.

We had a few ideas including:

  • Rocker kitties – bad ass cats with a retro dark look, black leather lots of metals etc.
  • 80’s kitties – yeah no explanation needed here, I am an 80’s chick!
  • City kitty goes suburbs –  a take on being adopted from not so great areas to great homes in the suburbs – a graffiti look was the concept.

Yeah – none of them “thrilled” us either! Hey, I said they were just ideas!

But the one my daughter actually came up with I LOVED.

“A day in the life of a Karma Cat”

The inspiration would be a 24 hour look at how a Karma Cat lives the good life with their owners. The concept was going to use people but only to show the “bond” – there was not going to be any human faces. Just arms, feet or other body parts that tie the concept together.

  • A cat upside down on the couch between his owners after a long day of work (not that cats work of course).
  • A cat dipping his paw in a bowl of cereal at breakfast.
  • A cat snuggling up at night with his owners after a long day for a good nights sleep.
  • A cat playing with his toys during the day while his parents are away.

You get it right?

I still love this idea.

But it did not come fruition.

Can you guess why?

Because cats are assholes.

The Photo Session Realities – Proving Cats Are Jerks

So I show up at the very first session filled with excitement and the plan above for a “day in the life”. I imagined a glorious image of Ronald with his mom doing whatever it is that they do in a day. Maybe snuggling on a couch. Maybe eating dinner together. Maybe playing a game of fetch – who knows what they do, but I was going to capture it.

Or not.

Below is how Ronald spent most of the session. Under a chair – under a table – under a desk, anywhere he could be under something, he was.

Ronald was not alone.

Most of the sessions went this way. It is like the all connected with each other mentally to play “keep away from the photographer”. Whether they were under chairs, under beds, under covers – in litter boxes, they did everything they could to keep me from photographing them.

I swear it was a cat conspiracy.

Cats Are Assholes - A photo Calendar Story

Oh, but let’s talk about the 2 cat homes.

Like Ronald’s housemate who could not stay away from me.

Everywhere I was – he was. This picture pretty much sums up the session. Great picture – wrong cat.

And as soon as I turned my lens on Ronald in the background there – yep, under the table he went.

Karma Cat Photo Calendar Fundraiser

The Photo Session Results

I am a Type-A photographer – meaning I hate putting out anything that is not perfect. I want purrfect exposure (see what I did there teehee), I want purrfect backgrounds and settings, I want purrfect facial expressions and I want images that tell stories.

Unfortunately, I cannot say I got that in every session for the Karma Cat Calendar.

Am I disappointed? Yes, of course a little bit – but I do know either way that I am making a difference – had a lot of fun doing these sessions and I know the pet parents will ultimately be happy with what I was able to get of their fur kids.

I did have to put aside my grandiose idea of a well thought out theme – because clearly the cats had a totally different plan for this calendar.

A couple of sessions I walked away just glad I got something I could use.

The Lessons I Learned

I am still working through everything to get the calendar together – I still have editing to do and design work to make it all come together and will do a separate post about the calendar itself and all the kitties I got to meet.

But, I learned a lot on this journey – besides that cats are assholes.

  • I learned that Karma Cat Zen Dog animal rescue is adored and respected in the animal rescue world. This warmed my heart to hear all the great things about them.
  • I learned that their adopters are some of the best and most loyal I have ever met.
  • I learned that for cat sessions – you will NEVER get them to do what you want when you want it. You need to be flexible and ready for the brief moment you may have to “get the shot”.
  • I learned that cats – well they are each so unique. Every one of them has their own preferences for sounds, smells, foods and more – what I tried with one cat would freak out another.
  • I learned catnip works on 99% of the cats tested. But I also learned catnip does not help get great shots – unless you want catnip filled cats rolling around on the floor as your subject  – like CJ below proves.
  • I learned cats do not care if you like them.
  • I learned that cat people are a passionate and caring group with the biggest hearts and limitless love for their fur kids. Every cat I met was loved immensely – and had an amazing life.
  • I learned that I did not leave enough time for the sessions. Because I was driving all over and own a business time was an issue so I sacrificed precious photo time. I would rethink this process carefully if doing it again next year to allow more time with each cat.
Cat Calendar Photo Outtake
CJ high on catnip

The Final Cat Calendar

Below are all 12 months of the calendar! If you would like support Karma Cat and purchase one, then visit their location or give them a call to see if there are any left!

Cover - Cat Fundraising Calendar
January - Cat Fundraising Calendar
February - Cat Fundraising Calendar
March - Cat Fundraising Calendar
April - Cat Fundraising Calendar
May - Cat Fundraising Calendar
June - Cat Fundraising Calendar
Fundraising Cat Calendar Alumni Page
July - Cat Fundraising Calendar
August - Cat Fundraising Calendar
September - Cat Fundraising Calendar
October - Cat Fundraising Calendar
November - Cat Fundraising Calendar
December - Cat Fundraising Calendar
Back - Cat Fundraising Calendar


Will I Do This Again?

Hell yeah – and I hope this year is such a success we have to do it again next year!

As soon as we finish up the calendar and get a total donation amount, we will let you know how much was raised!

I just know that next year I will just have to plan a little better and not have such high expectations for what a cat is willing to do. I will have to schedule a little more time for each session and will use a different lens to allow me to create more distance between the cats and myself so I have a better chance of getting that magical image that tells the story of their rescue success!

So – Do You Agree or Disagree With My Cats Are Assholes Attitude?

I want to hear your cat stories – am I an asshole and not the cats? Do you agree and own an asshole cat? Did this post just piss you off?

Meow at me in the comments below!

Rachel Caren


Rachel has been an intern with CharityPaws for several years and is currently attending the University of Rochester to study Biology. Her passion for cats and reptiles combined with her love for Biology shows through in the content she creates! When you want to know why or how something happens with animals, she is the girl to ask!

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31 thoughts on “Because Cats Are Jerks: A Photo Calendar Plan Gone Wrong”

  1. I howled with laughter. Yup, totally get it. I understand why people are offended by the idea, it feeds the whole cats aren’t friendly, social, loveable animals. But yes, cats are trainable and cats can perform – when they want to. They’re not going to just do what you want when you want because you said to and they get a treat like a dog. Especially if a stranger is involved. I think cats are like teenagers. My kids, who I love dearly, were kind of a-holes as teens too πŸ™‚

    • LOL! Thanks Holly! I only offended a couple of people (but I originally had the post say cats are “assholes”) – but I stand strong by everything I wrote! I LOVE cats – I have had some who were like dogs, but most are aloof and I swear plotting my demise. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for swinging by and give the “kids” a hi for me!

  2. My only thoughts… am I the only asehole with a messy house? Why do these houses looks so damn clean? Perhaps clean people with pets are aseholes. Yes, that’s it. Clean people are aseholes.

    • LOL! It is the magic of photography I swear! Many of these were done in apartments — so it was challenge from that perspective as well with lighting and lack of open space.

  3. Lol.. hilarious! I have a real bad ass cat who loves to break things, play with my stuffs and tear apart my cartoon pillow!

  4. Well cats are not known for being tractable! I’ve only done a few shelter shots of dogs in a home setting and I have trouble getting them still.

  5. I admit, at first I was concerned about your title of this post, but it was hilarious! Now you can see why it takes forever to put together a sponsored post with cats. I’m always envious of people with dogs who have that perfect pose in front of a great background and the product in plain sight. This NEVER happens with a cat! I think this is why I still have so many boxes of products still around because I dread the process of getting those photos.

    • LOL! Didn’t mean to scare you with the title – I ADORE cats, don’t get me wrong – but they definitely give us a run for our money! I feel for you with trying to do reviews! It might take a lifetime to get through them all I would imagine!

  6. LOL!! I applaud your incredible efforts and I’m sure the calendar will be fabulous, if not up to your purrfect standard for this theme. I got great photos of my cat years ago, but my expectations were low and the shots were all candid with no theme. Cats aren’t A-holes, they just insist on doing their own thing. We just need to live with that.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  7. These photos are great, but I know that cats are often difficult to photograph. I love the theme for the calendar and will be looking forward to seeing some more of the photos!

  8. Yes, Yes and Yes…this post made me smile. Cats definitely have their own agenda and you are lucky if they allow you to be a part of it.

  9. Oh my…I was sipping my morning coffee out on the deck reading this and your title caused me to spit out the coffee, laughing! I just love that title and knew what you meant immediately! Such a great post. I have tried to get my adopted feral to pose for some pics…but he usually thinks I’m the A**hole! lol. I loved all the idea for the calendar – especially rocker cats or 80s cats! (I love 80s rock music)!

    Beautiful cats. Beautiful photos. Hysterical title. Thanks for making my morning! πŸ™‚

  10. Well, the pictures you shared are amazing. You are really talented! Your kitties are gorgeous! I can’t imagine the amount of time and energy that must go in to each picture.

  11. Well I wouldn’t use THAT word but difficult sure. I’m a huge cat lover and totally understand the lessons you’ve learned to you have to be flexible and patient. I’ve definitely learned to go with the flow. So happy you are working on a calendar for a great cause so all the trouble will be worth it in the end. Love that last photo of CJ. LOL

  12. Well cats are special creatures, they won’t do anything they dislike. Requires a lot of patience and love for them to start doing things we want them to do. I do not think cats are bad. In my case I have 4 on two of them hate the camera so it is practically impossible to get a good picture of them. Frustrating but the good thing is that you learned Karma Cat Zen Dog animal rescue is adored and respected that is the most important thing at least that is what I think. Hoping in the future you can make a calendar with those cats that want to take pictures.

  13. Well, you had some great ideas and a good plan that didn’t quite work out. I don’t think it’s because cats are assholes though. They just like to do their own thing and don’t really care if that fits with your plan or not. Wait…now that I think about it, that is kind of assholey, but I guess I just don’t like that word very much!

  14. I learned so much about taking photos of cats. Since I don’t own one, I’ve never had to do so. Dogs are so much easier!

  15. Working with cats for a living, I can completely agree with you! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE CATS. We have 5 of our own. πŸ™‚ But cats are cats, lol. I can’t wait to see your calendar. I especially loved the photo of CJ high on cat nip!

  16. Things always sound better on paper than the way they work out. Well, usually. I guess you’d have to always walk around with your finger on a trigger to get the photos you want. I admire the people who are able to capture such moments you describe.

  17. * Tears of laughter* Ooh sorry * cough cough* There are times when I am glad I am not a Type A person and taking my cat pictures is one. One good pic takes me hours to get (plus a zillion fails) . Cats have wills of iron and don’t care what we think. I need yo cultivate that lind of attitude it would have me at 20,000 page views in no time.

  18. Haha, yes cats definitely do what they want, when they want! But you seem to have come out with some great shots. And speaking of catnip, there’s a new photography book out and all it is is cats high on catnip. Can’t wait to see your calendar and the rest of the shots. I’m sure they are fantastic!

  19. The calendar fundraiser was such a good idea, and you’re right. Photographing a cat in a shelter, especially if they’re in a cage is one thing, but in their own home!! That’s a whole other story. I’ve managed to take pictures of some of my cats over the years and they’ve been pretty good about sitting still. Interestingly enough it’s my dog Jack that has some attitude. Although I have some great pictures of him, many times he will be staring straight at the camera, and just as I press the shutter he turns his head to the side. Oh yes, he does it on purpose out of spite!!

  20. I am chuckling here as I have maybe 3 photos of my cats in Israel as they never ever let me take pictures, as soon as I thought I had a good shot they would move under the bed or table or wherever. Cannot wait to see your calendar as I am sure it will be amazing especially as it is for such a good cause, there is nothing like a rescued pet in your life.

  21. I met the folks from Karma Cat Zen Dog at Catsbury Park and this is another reminder to follow up with them! This made me chuckle, and I don’t feel so bad now when my photo sessions for reviews go awry. My cats can be divas and can only be bribed when they want to be!

  22. This is awesome! I’ve always loved cats, I think in part because they are assholes! I’m a sucker. I sadly can’t have any cats myself, because my fiance is very allergic to them, but I’ve always felt most drawn to animals with attitudes. I’m sure the calendar will turn out awesome even if all the cats didn’t exactly cooperate.

  23. Bahahaha! Thanks for making my day πŸ™‚
    But to be honest, the photos you have here are wonderful and highlight the purrfect cattitude πŸ˜‰
    I know what cats are like – have 2 of my own and they couldn’t be any different. You would love my one cat who comes running the minute he sees me doing a photo shoot of the dogs – wants to be included and I have to shoo him away!

    • That is awesome! My own cat wants nothing to do with me! πŸ™‚ The only cats that came running to me during these sessions were the ones that were NOT in the calendar. Except for Winston — he was the coolest cat ever —- he is on my Instagram upside down orange and white cat who I still think is a dog!

  24. As someone with 6 cats, I find this hilarious! I ave an asshole cat who knocks stuff onto the floor & breaks shit just because she can!

  25. This made me chuckle! I photograph cats at a local animal shelter. Only cats. No dogs. It can be very difficult to get that purrfect shot. But it’s so rewarding when you do. Most of the time they don’t care about me. They just want to do what they want to do. Which typically means not engaging with me or looking anywhere toward the camera! Doesn’t matter if I have the coolest feather toy or catnip bubbles. Unless it’s a kitten. Well, then, almost anything goes. I’m not owned by any cats now, but I’ve had many in my life. I agree, cats can be assholes! Can’t wait to see your calendar!

    • Shelter cats are SOOOO much easier to be honest. I have not shot a ton of shelter cats – but the few times I did it was not as horrific as this calendar has been! πŸ™‚ Thank you for donating your time this was, I still believe in the power of the images in adoptions!