The cat has a picture framed, too

Abby, a cat in charge of her world. ANN REYNOLDS/CONTRIBUTED
Abby, a cat in charge of her world. ANN REYNOLDS/CONTRIBUTED

After reading my Jan. 8 column about dogs and their mugs immortalized in picture frames, a number of readers asked if Abby, our 16-year-old cat, had her framed pictures, too.

The sassy feline has one, and it’s a classic.

Years ago, our family helped create a children’s library for the Miami Valley Hospital South’s Emergency Department. When it came time to name the library many suggestions were bantered around before we settled on “Abby’s Nook.”

Our grey and white cat loves sitting on my lap when I’m working in the study. She lies on books, newspapers and the like, usually when I’m trying to use them.

Late afternoons, when the sun pours into the study, Abby can be found soaking up the warmth either on that day’s morning paper or the upholstered ottoman. She uses the study and its books and papers more than we do, so “Abby’s Nook” seemed like a good fit.

We thought it was important that kids visiting the library knew what Abby looked like, so Ann Reynolds, a local freelance television host, volunteered her time and talent to take photos.

Ann isn’t a photographer by trade but has worked with photographers in front and behind the lens for most of her adult life. As a broadcast news major at Ohio University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism she took basic photography courses. As a commercial model before and during college she learned from various still photographers about the use of natural light to capture the subject’s personality.

For the last 14 years, she has been a spokesperson for the Dayton Humane Society, assisting the executive director with media spots. When she first started volunteering, Ann took photos of shelter animals for their website, spending time with each animal to understand its personality and capture it on film.

Before taking a single photo of Abby, Ann observed the cat navigating around “her” home. She followed the queen into the living room and watched her climb from an ottoman to a chair to the back of the sofa, where she had prime viewing of “her” backyard.

Ann’s photos were “purr-fection.” Our cat didn’t look sassy, irritated or bothered. She didn’t look overly angelic or cute, either. Abby looked like a cat in charge of her world.

Over the years we’ve taken numerous photos of Abby. The feline has always obliged these shoots, but the photos haven’t captured her essence like Ann’s did.

Abby is a born leader. Almost majestic. There’s been times, I swear, she’s looking down her nose at my “performance.” I get the sense she’s telling me to do it again because I could do it better.

Our past dog, Lucy, paid deference to her. Teddy, our Lab, does now. Neither ever cowered around her and both seemed to enjoy her company. But when Abby was displeased with their “performances” she would hiss and dramatically walk away.

While self-reliant, Abby, when she chooses, is also affectionate. She loves her family, but at a distance. She picks the time and place for stroking her back and scratching her chin. She is always waiting for us when we return home and rubs up against each of us, including Teddy.

Abby’s photo sits between photos of Teddy and Lucy. A queen and two of her past and present subjects.

Tips for successful cat photos

1. Work with the cat's personality

2. Keep the background simple

3. Take the picture in a familiar setting

4. Be cautious with the flash

5. Engage the cat with toys