When doing travel photography in a particular location, I find it intriguing to document the lives of all of its inhabitants, not just people. As in the case of a number of countries (particularly in the Middle East), Morocco has a rather large population of stray cats and dogs that roam streets in pursuit of finding food and comfort among its people. Having written an article on What to Photograph in Morocco before, I wanted to add to the series with photographs of our feline friends. I found it interesting that despite the poverty and poor living conditions of the country, many Moroccans did their best to provide food and shelter for stray cats and dogs.
On one hand, it was rather sad to see lack of animal control from the government, which unfortunately results in rapid multiplication of stray cats and dogs in all regions of Morocco, as well as spreading of diseases and poor living conditions for many of its feline and canine inhabitants.
On the other hand, people’s kindness and generosity towards animals is quite evident (and I have seen many examples of such behavior), allowing them to stay close to people and not be afraid of them, which is something you certainly don’t see in many other parts of the world. In many countries, stray cats and dogs are too afraid of people to show up in the daytime, resorting to going through trash bins at night, where they often get poisoned or strangled.
For me as a photographer, stray cats ended up being wonderful primary subjects on the streets of Marrakech, Fes and Chefchaouen, as I found them to be easier and more welcoming to photograph than some of the locals.
In fact, in some cases, cats were a good excuse to photograph the Moroccans! As long as my camera lens wasn’t directly aimed towards them, they let me do my thing. Considering that most people have no idea what lenses and focal lengths we as photographers utilize for our framing, they don’t have a clue about differences between wide-angle and telephoto lenses, which can serve as an advantage when doing street photography.
Unfortunately, stray cats and dogs generally don’t do well on their own, soon becoming victims of parasite and bacterial infections, various diseases and birth defects. Just like I saw many examples of cats that were well-cared, there were plenty of other examples of starving abandoned kittens, especially in larger cities like Marrakech and Fes…
Perhaps the most exciting part of Morocco for me personally was the blue city of Chefchaouen. The blue colors on the streets were a perfect environment that made cats stand out, particularly bright-colored ones. They were great either as primary or secondary subjects within the scene.
In some cases, I tried to change the framing to give a “cat perspective”, with the cat facing towards other subjects, such as people passing by. This was a rather challenging task, as I had to hang out by those cats for a while to establish their trust and let me hand out around them.
In this particular case, I decided to hang out a bit more and see what the cat would do after it just sat there for a few minutes. I kept my composition the same and waited for something interesting to happen. As the cat got up and started moving out towards the empty street, I captured another shot, with just its rear in the door frame:
With nothing else going on and no other subject in the frame, it still serves as an interesting primary subject in this composition, so I decided to keep it in my favorites.
As I walked down the narrow and curvy streets of Chefchaouen, I was constantly on the hunt for interesting subjects. On one of the wider streets, I found a bakery stand painted in blue and guess who was hanging out inside one of the windows?
A single shot before the cat turned away, but enough to become my favorite from the whole trip!
I also found early morning time to be perfect for feline photography. With people just about to become active on the streets, cats were roaming the streets on their own at the early hour, looking for food or other cats to hang out with.
Chefchaouen perhaps had the best-looking cats in the country. I noticed that the locals were particularly friendly with cats and did their best to provide all the support they could, providing food and shelter whenever they could.
Some cats are so used to being fed and let into homes, that they sit in front of door entrances and meow, calling the owners to come out and take care of them.
When walking around, I often found occasions with multiple cats hanging out in the same area. While taking pictures of many cats in the same area often didn’t work out due to chaos it created in the frame, putting two cats in the frame at opposite edges of the frame created separation:
Hope you enjoyed this photo essay! If you have pictures of cats to share, please post them in the comments section below!