Walter Chandoha

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Walter George Chandoha
Born(1920-11-30)November 30, 1920
DiedJanuary 11, 2019(2019-01-11) (aged 98)
Alma materN.Y.U. School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance
SpouseMaria Ratti Chandoha
WebsiteChandoha Photography

Walter George Chandoha (November 30, 1920 – January 11, 2019) was a prolific photographer, known especially for his photographs of animals and particularly of cats. Additional subjects for which he is known are fruits, vegetables, flowers, and New York City street scenes. Over his long career, his archive grew to more than 225,000 photographs including approximately 90,000 photographs of cats.[1] Hyperallergic called him "the one cat photographer to rule them all."[2]

Early life[edit]

He began taking photographs as a child using his family's Kodak camera and later joined a camera club in Bayonne where he learned darkroom skills. After graduating from Bayonne High School,[3] he worked as an assistant to illustrator Leon de Voss.[4]


Chandoha was drafted into the army during World War II where he served as a press photographer and then as a combat photographer in the Pacific War theater. In 1949, he was graduated from N.Y.U. School of Commerce, Accounts, and Finance under the G.I. Bill. That same year he married Maria Ratti and they moved into an apartment in Queens, New York. On his way home from classes at NYU one night that winter, he found a kitten shivering in the snow. The kitten, Loco, became one of his favorite subjects.[1][4] His enjoyment of photographing that cat prompted him to become a free-lance photographer and he eventually specialized in photographs of cats. They later moved to a farm in Annandale section of Clinton Township, New Jersey, where they raised their two children and where he died at the age of 98. His last cat was Maddie, a rescue cat the family adopted from New Jersey in 2018.[5]

His preferred method for photographing cats was to meet them at their eye level.[6] He often added his children to the photographs to portray the interactions between young kids and cats.[7]

His photographs were used on more than 300 magazine covers and in thousands of advertisements.[8] He was the author of at least 34 books,[8] including Walter Chandoha's Book of Kittens and Cats, Walter Chandoha's Book of Puppies and Dogs, How to Photograph Cats, Dogs, and Other Animals, How to Shoot and Sell Animal Photos, All Kinds of Cats, and Mind Your Manners!. He and his work were also the subject of many books and museum exhibitions. He was once quoted as saying, "Cats are my favorite animal subject because of their unlimited range of attitude, posture, expression, and coloration."[9]


  1. ^ a b Sandomir, Richard (January 18, 2019). "Walter Chandoha, Photographer Whose Specialty Was Cats, Dies at 98". Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  2. ^ Dunne, Carey (January 16, 2016). "Success Secrets of a Famous Cat Photographer". Hyperallergic. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  3. ^ Hildebrandt, Alexandra. "Kuschelige Zeiten: Warum uns Katzen erwärmen", XING, August 7, 2019. Accessed April 17, 2020. "Die Fotografie faszinierte Walter Chandoha bereits in den späten 1930er- Jahren, als er Schüler an der Bayonne High School in New Jersey war."
  4. ^ a b "Walter Chandoha: A Lifetime of Photography". Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  5. ^ Rich, Katey. "Walter Chandoha's Cat Photography: A 70-Year Love Story". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  6. ^ Sandomir, Richard (January 18, 2019). "Walter Chandoha, Photographer Whose Specialty Was Cats, Dies at 98 (Published 2019)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  7. ^ Chandoha, Walter (August 14, 2019). "Walter Chandoha's purrfect cats – in pictures". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "This man took cute cat photos before the internet was invented". Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  9. ^ "Walter Chandoha: The Cat Whisperer". Retrieved January 19, 2019.