This Man Invented Cat Memes in 1906

Photographer Harry Whittier Frees (1879-1953) dressed up live cats, dogs, and piglets in tiny clothes and spent hours posing them for novelty postcards. He changed entertainment forever.

"A difficult subject"

Harry Whittier Frees

Like the caption to this 1937 article in LIFE magazine suggests, Harry Whittier Frees lived for "difficult subjects." Working only with live, humanely-treated animals, Frees earned a career in captioned pet photography nearly 100 years before the Internet. Gathered here are choice shots from his book The Little Folks of Animal Land (1915) and his other incredible collections.

Two dogs hugging

Harry Whittier Frees

(from LIFE magazine)

"The Keennose boys make a sly deal."

Harry Whittier Frees

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"Rosie was a patient model."

Harry Whittier Frees

"Lily Bufkins Cuts a Wisdom Tooth"

Harry Whittier Frees


"Miss Kindeyes' kindergarten class."

Harry Whittier Frees

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"Daddy Fourpaw rescues Blink."

Harry Whittier Frees

"Barker Reaches High C."

Harry Whittier Frees


"Blink and Daddy in the Ring"

Harry Whittier Frees

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"Resting in the Hammock"

Harry Whittier Frees

The Catterwaul Band Goes on Tour

Harry Whittier Frees

A note from Mr. Frees

Harry Whittier Frees

Read the entire book for free here.

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