FACT CHECK: Was The First Photo Of A Cat Taken In 1880?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims the first photo of a cat was taken in 1880.

Verdict: False

There are several photos of cats that predate 1880.

Fact Check: 

The viral image shows a grainy but well-preserved black and white photo of a cat. “The First Ever Photo Of A Cat In History, 1880,” reads the image’s caption.

The claim is inaccurate. While the origins of the photo shared on Facebook are unknown, there are several photos of cats that predate 1880. In the 1870s, for example, English photographer Harry Pointer became well known for a series of photos he took of his pet cats, according to the Sussex PhotoHistory website.

Other cat photos date back even further. One image shared on the Library of Congress website, titled “Unidentified man with cat, three-quarter length portrait, full face, seated,” is registered as being created between 1840 and 1860. Another image, found on the website Artnet, shows a photo of a sleeping cat taken between 1850 and 1855 by Rev. Calvert Richard Jones. (RELATED: Image Claims Joe Biden ‘Wants to Resume Building Trump’s Wall’)

David Simkin, a photography historian who runs Sussex PhotoHistory, told Check Your Fact in an email that the photo featured in the Facebook post “is definitely not the world’s first cat photo.”

“It is likely that the first image of a live cat was produced by the daguerreotype process during the 1840s, but as they were probably
created for the satisfaction of a photographer who happened to own a cat and not produced for commercial purposes, I believe it is
almost impossible to give a firm date for these early cat photographs,” Sinkin said, adding that the chances of finding the actual first photo of a cat are “very slim indeed.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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