Walter Chandoha was a young marketing student and an amateur photographer when on a winter's night in 1949 in New York City, he spotted a stray kitten in the snow, bundled it into his coat, and brought it home. Little did he know he had just met the muse that would determine the course of his life.
Chandoha turned his lens on his new feline friend – which he named Loco – and was so inspired by the results that he started photographing kittens from a local shelter. These images marked the start of an extraordinary career that would span seven decades.
"Cats are my favorite animal subject because of their unlimited range of attitude, posture, expression, and coloration. They're number one as the most favored pet because of their subtle way of showing affection toward their human companions. Their warmth, their cleanliness, their silence, their various meows, their purring, their soft touch – all of these make cats the much loved and appreciated pets and companions they are," he told Puss Puss magazine.
By the time he died, on Jan. 11, Mr. Chandoha had taken some 90,000 cat photos, nearly all before cats had become viral darlings of social media. He was 98.