Pets & Animals

The fur flies in animal photographer Carli Davidson's funny photo book 'Shake Cats'

"Shake, shake, shake! Shake your cute face!"

That's how the famous song might go if it were playing in the studio of Carli Davidson, a 34-year-old animal photographer based in Portland, Oregon.

Davidson just published her latest book, “Shake Cats”, a treasure trove of cat portraits showing them in the hilarious act of wildly shaking their heads.

Carli Davidson
"Cat got your tongue?"

Davidson uses high-speed lights and a Nikon D-4, which has a rapid frame rate, to capture the hysterical images in perfect slow-motion.

To get the animals to shake their heads, Davidson, who has worked in a veterinary office and a zoo, used a special ear cleaner designed for pets and sold at vet offices.

Photo by Carli Davidson, Courtesy of HarperCollins
Shake it off, kitteh!
Photo by Carli Davidson, Courtesy of HarperCollins
Itchy, itchy, itchy!
Carli Davidson / Photo by Carli Davidson, Courtesy of HarperCollins
This rescue kitty is feeling much cleaner, now! But a little funny...

The combination of the solution and the gentle massage causes them to whip their heads around and shake it off, so to speak.

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Carli Davidson / Carli Davidson

“I work with two vet techs who help around the studio,” Davidson told TODAY.com. “We play with the cats for half an hour and then put them in front of the modeling lights. That makes them sleepy because it’s very warm there. We then give them mini-grooming sessions where we cut their nails and clean their ears.”

That's when the photographic magic begins, as Davidson snaps away.

Carli Davidson / Photo by Carli Davidson, Courtesy of HarperCollins
Nice and clean! But don't try this at home unless your vet gives you a tutorial.

“About 70 percent of cats desperately need an ear cleaning anyway,” added Davidson.

Many of the cats featured in the book are cats that were up for adoption at the time of the shoot. The photos not only delight viewers, they helped cats get homes.

“Close to half the cats in the book were in rescue at the time of the shoot,” said Davidson. “They were getting adopted more quickly because of the glamour shots.”

The other cats featured were either her friend’s rescues or belong to people who replied to Davidson’s Facebook casting call.

Carli Davidson / Carli Davidson

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There was also one celebrity cat in the mix: Lil Bub!

“Shake Cats” is the third book in Davidson’s pet photo series, after “Shake,” a collection of dogs shaking their head, and Shake Puppies, which showed cute puppies shaking their noggins.

Carli Davidson / Photo by Carli Davidson, Courtesy of HarperCollins
What's a book on cats without a picture of Lil Bub?

Davidson has been photographing cats and dogs since 2009, when a car accident forced her to leave her job at the Oregon Zoo, where she groomed animals and provided medicinal care.

“After the car accident I couldn't do manual labor, which was about 90 percent of my job at the zoo, so I picked up my camera and [pursued] animal portraits.”

Davidson was inspired to photograph pets looking goofy after cleaning her own mastiff’s ears.

“We cleaned his ears and took pictures of him shaking the ear cleaner out and we just laughed, and thought, ‘Oh my god, these are ridiculous,” said Davidson.

“I'm always looking for that feeling of real, genuine laughter, so I brought more dogs and cats in.”

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Hilarious as the photos are, they’re also quite beautiful and technically stunning.

“The animals become abstract structures,” Davidson said.

"Shake Cats" was published by Harper Collins.

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