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Cats In The Time Of Coronavirus

June 5, 2020
by the gentle author

Our feline friends have been having a high old time of late, with doting owners at home all day tending to their domestic needs and the streets cleared of traffic to facilitate their urban wanderings. Photographer Chris Kelly found that she encountered far more than usual while taking her daily exercise and took these pictures to record these strange days when the cats took over.

“Like most photographers I decided to record the experience of lockdown and, of course, it had to be local. Daily exercise has taught me to notice more about my neighbourhood, I saw very few people but when the sun came out so did the cats.

Over exactly two months I met an astonishing number of cats, some of them self-distancing but many of them eager for attention. After a tiger in the Bronx Zoo caught the coronavirus there was some early advice about keeping cats indoors. Yet it transpired that there’s no record of humans catching the virus from cats and the advice changed. Cats should be kept indoors if the owners are infected – but only if the cats don’t mind.

Photographing cats is a frivolous pursuit, although friends and former colleagues appreciated them when I shared a few online and the strikingly beautiful spotted Bengal cat is now someone’s screensaver. The last time I saw this cat it was two thirds of the way up a pine tree in pursuit of a magpie chattering derisively. 

Now the rules are relaxing I might just meet some owners and hear their lockdown stories.” 

Chris Kelly

Photographs copyright © Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly’s THE NECESSARY CAT – A PHOTOGRAPHER’S MEMOIR is available from many independent bookshops including Brick Lane Books, Broadway Books & Newham Bookshop.

You may like to see these other photographs by Chris Kelly

Cats of Spitalfields

East End Cats

Chris Kelly’s Columbia School Portraits

Chris Kelly’s Cable St Gardeners

16 Responses leave one →
  1. June 5, 2020

    When I was staying in Spitalfields around this time of year in 2014, I photographed a fine medium-haired black cat on Wilkes, a very friendly cat who rubbed up against my leg and happily accepted scritches.

  2. June 5, 2020

    Some really stunning photos of cats. Lovely to see them out and about.

  3. June 5, 2020

    Lovely cats, great pictures. I think my favorite is the white cat with the ink spot under his right ear. I think cats everywhere have overtaken parks and corners. Towns and cities were silent and empty, it was perfect for them.

  4. Nicola permalink
    June 5, 2020

    Well done Chris Kelly. I loved these.

  5. Gillian Tindall permalink
    June 5, 2020

    Where was the leopard-spotted cat seen in picture 2, I wonder? Cats in India sometimes look like that – a trace, no doubt, of their distant ancestors – but I’ve never seen one in Britain.

  6. Jill Wilson permalink
    June 5, 2020

    Great to see so many cats out and about making the most of lockdown, and the lovely sunshine.

    However it is a particularly poignant blog for me as I had to have my beloved cat put down on Tuesday. She had stopped eating and was diagnosed with a mystery illness which stopped her gut from working (probably cancer) and the treatments were going to involve force feeding through tubes down her nose, possible operations etc, all of which may not have worked anyway.

    So sadly I had to let her go, and she was purring right until the end, bless her.

    But at least I had been able to spend lots of quality time with her in lockdown, including reading in bed at the time I would normally have been on the road commuting to work.

    And I have lots of lovely memories of a very special cat… (she looked very like the black and white one sitting under the blue car).

    RIP Potty Purrbright x

  7. June 5, 2020

    What wonderful creatures! I laughed out loud at the bold cat at the top of the blog post today.
    “Ohhhhhh boy” I thought “THIS is going to be fun”. It was, it was, Chris Kelly.

    A life without our furry companions: unimaginable.
    From the Hudson River Valley, where Satchmo the Cat presides.

    Stay safe, all. And that includes YOU, Mr. Schrodinger.

  8. paul loften permalink
    June 5, 2020

    Spitalfields cats are probably milking it. However, it’s not all fun and games for my two . The foxes are now coming into the gardens at night and on two occasions I have been called into action on hearing the most awful screams and scuffles at night. A few days ago I was in the shower in the early hours and fortunately heard the terrible ruckus and had to dash out of the shower to defend Whisky, who s a big boy and knows how to look after himself. I found the fox face to face with him and it immediately ran away at the sight of my naked body. Almost anything would. I do hope the neighbours were not looking out of the window Nevertheless he was very shaken and will no longer go through the catflap and asks to go out through the front door. I don’t worry so much about the other one as he is a lover, not a fighter and will retreat at great speed when confronted.

  9. Sue permalink
    June 5, 2020

    What splendid cats.

  10. Jennifer Newboold permalink
    June 5, 2020

    Like Gillian Tindall I am curious about the spotted cat, so I did a quick search; one of my favourite websites,, explained that a ‘Bengal’ cat is a cross breed of a domestic house cat and a wild ‘leopard cat’ and was created in the 20th century for the hybrid cat market. What a striking creature! It would appear that they retain a lot of their wild ancestors’ behaviour genes and some of them, particularly second or third generation offspring of wild parents can be, well, wild. I think I will stick with my two irregular, lazy cats, who are unsociable enough at times!
    Thank you, Chis Kelly, for the interesting diversion in my day!

  11. June 5, 2020

    Thank You for these Beautiful Pussies!!???????

  12. June 5, 2020

    Lovely. As I type this one of my three indooor babies is screaming for attention. They are truly spoiled with someone home with them nearly all the time. Bengals stay pretty wild and are very active cats. Mine, thank goodness, sleep a lot as one or another always wants attention when awake.
    Sorry, Jill, for your loss. May happy memories comfort you.

  13. Robin permalink
    June 5, 2020

    Noble creatures!

  14. Leslie Eaton permalink
    June 5, 2020

    Great photos – Love seeing the cats.

  15. Susie permalink
    June 7, 2020

    How lovely to see these wee pussy cats in their daily life. Sadly we no longer have one, but our neighbours cats do visit even if only to use our garden as a latrine. 🙂

  16. July 16, 2020

    So nice. It reminds me to my Neighbour’s cat CHICO who sadly lives now on a Farm several Kilometers away from me …

    Love & Peace

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