The original cat memes

Cat memes may be incredibly popular online today – but perhaps they've been around longer than you thought.

These amusing photographs – dating back to the early 1900s – could be seen as the original LOLcats. They were taken by Harry Whitter Frees, an American photographer known for taking pictures of posed cats and dogs.  

The Pennsylvania native became famous for his cutesy shots of kittens, puppies and even rabbits and chickens dressed as people after he started making them from 1905.

Their incredible popularity led him to create novelty postcards, magazine spreads and children's books using them.

He would borrow puppies and tiny kittens from friends and neighbors and dress them up before snapping them in human situations, complete with people clothes and props.

A kitten is seen baking a cake in one snap, hanging up laundry in another and another funny pictures sees the animal bowling. A dog is also seen pulling three kittens along in a cart while another dog plays the cello.

And while today, a meme can be born from split-second or even accidental photography, Frees needed far more patience for his photographs – and some pictures could take days or even weeks to capture.

These amusing photographs – dating back to the early 1900s – could be seen as the original cat memes. These amusing photographs – dating back to the early 1900s – could be seen as the original cat memes. Pictured, a

These amusing photographs could be seen as the original cat memes. This image, captured by Harry Whitter Frees around 1914, shows a kitten wearing a dress and apron standing on a chair stirring the contents of a bowl 

Harry Whitter Frees, an American photographer known for taking pictures of posed cats and dogs after dressing them up and placing them in human situations. This amusing snap showing the tiny kitten in a dress bowling with tiny wooden pins

Harry Whitter Frees, an American photographer known for taking pictures of posed cats and dogs after dressing them up and placing them in human situations. This amusing snap showing the tiny kitten in a dress bowling with tiny wooden pins

Frees also created novelty postcards, magazine spreads and children's books based on his photographs of the posed up animals. Pictured here, a cat in a dress hangs up laundry on a washing line

Frees also created novelty postcards, magazine spreads and children's books based on his photographs of the posed up animals. Pictured here, a cat in a dress hangs up laundry on a washing line

Frees got the idea for taking pictures of dressed up animals at a family birthday party. Guests at the party passed around and tried on a paper hat before someone put in on the family cat and Frees snapped a picture - which ended up becoming a very popular postcard. Here, a puppy pulls a toy horse and wagon carrying three kittens

Frees got the idea for taking pictures of dressed up animals at a family birthday party. Guests at the party passed around and tried on a paper hat before someone put in on the family cat and Frees snapped a picture - which ended up becoming a very popular postcard. Here, a puppy pulls a toy horse and wagon carrying three kittens

Frees used live animals and no trick photographs during his shoots - so needed an extraordinary amount of patience to capture what he intended. here, a puppy plays the cello complete with sheet music

Frees used live animals and no trick photographs during his shoots - so needed an extraordinary amount of patience to capture what he intended. here, a puppy plays the cello complete with sheet music

Photography back in the early 1900s required subjects to stay still for long periods of time - so taking photographs using live kittens and animals was extremely challenging. Here, Frees needed two kittens to pose for this shot in a tiny replica kitchen

Photography back in the early 1900s required

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