I’ve said before that old illustrated magazines are a treasure trove of fascinating stuff. From the same 1904 issue of The Strand where I found the vintage math puzzle in my previous post, I found this amazing reader-submitted photograph:
In case you can’t read the text:
I did not take the photograph which I send you, because my cat did! I tied a piece of wood to my magazine camera and fixed a piece of meat at the end thereof, so that when the cat started eating the meat it would release the shutter and take a photograph of itself. A large mirror had to be used, of course, and this photograph was the result.
I find this image fascinating not only because it is probably the first “cat selfie” ever taken, but it shows that our obsession as a species with finding weird and novel ways to do things for attention is not new! This is the sort of thing that would have been posted on TikTok, if TikTok had existed in 1904.
The earliest surviving photographs of cats date back to the mid-1800s, and I included one of these in my Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics book. But now I am just frustrated that, after spending years researching and writing a book on cats and photography, I only now find this perfect image!