Update: Cat Mastery is out! Now available for $4.99.
I vaguely remember my coworker, Ashley, saying something along the lines of, “There’s this cat book project, if you’re interested in helping with that.” As if that were at all a real question. And so it began. With wild enthusiasm.
At the time, I had no idea how much I would learn in the process. The author of the upcoming Cat Mastery, Dr. Tony Buffington, is an infinite well of cat wisdom: even though our meetings were generally centered around book formatting and design, I never left without gleaning some new significant knowledge about the animals that I live with daily. (And specifically, I gained insight into just why one of my own cats traded loyalty years ago, attaching himself to my husband and eschewing me without so much as twitched whisker of remorse.) Dr. Buffington’s book is slated to go on sale in the Apple iBooks Store later this month, and his adjacent iTunes U course, also titled Cat Mastery, will release as well. My own personal revelation that I mentioned earlier came with the cat-owner personality compatibility section of the book. Essentially, Dr. Buffington created a series of traits that exist on continuums that are appropriate for both humans and cats. Completing the assessment for both yourself and your pet allows you to see a visual representation of your similarities and differences in, for instance, need for social interaction. I personally assure any reader that they’ll find valuable takeaways in both.
The project was immensely fun to work on. For the most part, my work revolved around taking the concepts of cat behavior, environment, and need and illustrating them. Thankfully, my coworker who lead the project was great at intuiting exactly what kind of imagery might best express reward systems or cat-owner interactions. The actual image creation from there was always a combination of drafting, tweaking, revising, and a smidge of general feline adoration.
Alternative to the illustrations, the book plays happy host to many cat photographs. Many of these came from different sources, and some I photographed and edited specifically for the book. Such was the case with Lilly, the very glamorous long-haired cat that will be on the cover. Initially, a few photos of her made it into our image folder.
Unfortunately, the orientation and lighting didn’t quite work for what we had in mind. I scheduled a second visit to her owners’ home and spent a good hour aggressively snapping a lens in this cat’s face, all the while the owners’ adorable one-year-old hung around just out of frame looking to tug a tail or sneak in a pat. Let it be a testament to this cat’s conduct that her cover shots came through regardless.
Ultimately, while I was generally excited to work on the project, there was a really charming component about entering folks’ homes in order to take their pets’ photos. Of course we all adore these creatures that we live with, but it’s rare that people get a chance to tell you at length about their cat’s personality, preferences, and behavior all while having full photographic attention shone on said creatures. It really brings out the Beaming Pet Parent personality inherent in most owners who, in normal social situations, might get a bit of critical side eye for waxing poetic about their indoor animals. Thus, I’ll end with a collection of these good looking felines.
Look for Twitter updates as the book and course are released later this month. Follow me! @TaraOSUTech