Curious, clever and often unpredictable, cats are fascinating creatures. But they’re not easy to draw – that is, not unless you follow a few key steps.
Maybe you’re thinking of drawing a picture of your own pet kitty, or maybe you want to attempt a cat illustration, or even try out some animation. Regardless of whatever you’ve got planned, an excellent starting point is to draw a basic, realistic cat entirely from imagination.
That might sound like a challenging feat, but if you follow our step-by-step demonstration, you’ll find that it’s actually incredibly easy to put together the basic form of a cat. Once you’ve mastered this type of construction, you’ll soon be able to draw cats in all sorts of poses. And not only not that, but you’ll find that drawing cats from life suddenly becomes a whole lot easier.
To find out how to create your very own feline from imagination, read on for Gathered’s seven-step guide.
What materials will I need to draw a cat?
By all means, get creative with pencils, pens or paints if you like. But to follow our cat drawing guide, you’ll only need some very basic materials.
You can bring your cat to life with anything from coloured pencils to watercolours, but in this guide, we’re keeping things nice and simple. All you’ll need are the following materials:
● A sheet of plain, unlined A4 paper
● One or two pencils – 2B, HB or both will be fine for this drawing.
● A pencil sharpener: the details will be much easier if you have nicely sharpened pencils.
● An eraser, if you want to partially remove the guidelines in this drawing – but it’s not essential.
How to draw a cat step-by-step
The temptation, as with any subject, is to focus on drawing the details of a cat: its eyes, whiskers, fur or paws. But this will only slow you down in the early stages.
Instead, it’s better for you to consider the feline anatomy as a whole, just as you would if you were drawing a human. And just like the human body, cats can be simplified to a series of geometric shapes and sweeping lines.
Once you’ve got these essential forms in place, you’ll be able to add those all-important details far more effectively.
The good news is that you don’t need to know every last joint, muscle and bone in a cat’s body to know how to draw one – instead, follow our simple steps below, and you’ll be able to capture the essence of the animal with no trouble at all.
Draw three circles as you see them below. Notice that, of the two bigger circles, the one on the right is just a tiny bit smaller than the one on the left.
These three circles will form the body and head of the cat. Don’t worry if the topmost circle looks too big for a cat’s skull – we’re going to adapt this later in the process.
Now, let’s connect these three circles with a series of lines. Try to make them taper, especially the one at the top of the two largest circles. This line should dip in the same way as a cat’s vertebrae.
This part will take a bit more concentration. Draw guidelines a third of the way into the largest circles, and draw out these sweeping shapes for the cat’s legs. You’ll notice that the front leg is straighter than the hind leg, which almost resembles a sickle shape.
It’s good to draw out the four joints in the cat’s legs, if simply so you can confirm to yourself where they should be. Make an ‘S’ shape for the tail, which is nearly always erect with cats.
Now, we’re going to start bringing our moggie to life. Add sweeping outlines to the leg shapes, treating the upper sections almost like breeches, while making the lower sections narrow. You can draw little boxes for the paws.
Draw an extra line to make the tail thicker.
This is the trickiest part of the drawing. While the cat’s body should be made up of tapering lines, its head should be constructed with straight lines, except for the brow, which should be drawn with a concave shape. The ear should be positioned just right of centre. Add a triangle for the cat’s eye.
Now for the fun part: we can turn our collection of shapes into an actual feline. If you have a second, harder pencil, use that to draw a series of soft lines around the silhouette to suggest the cat’s fur. Maybe it’s a short-haired moggie; maybe it’s a long-haired Persian.
Make sure you turn that wormy tail into something wispy. Soften the hard details of the head with some soft edges, especially the tips of the ears. A second triangle can be added for the inside of the ear.
We’ve got this far, so let’s add some basic shading, and the two remaining legs. Also add a second ear, and a horizontal line for a simple bit of context. Draw in a narrow slit for the cat’s pupil. And finally… don’t forget those whiskers!
You now know how to draw an easy cat picture! Once you’ve got these essentially building blocks to cat drawing mastered, you can apply them to cats in different postures, whether that’s jumping, crouching or running. Like in this demo, these can be drawn from imagination – but if you can, try to draw from life.
That’s not always easy with animals. You’ll never successfully get a cat to hold a pose for you, but if you watch the way it moves, try to capture its essence in a series of sweeping lines. Then you can use the skills you’ve built up from this tutorial to draw its anatomy accurately.
If you want to improve on drawing details like fur, one tip we have is to draw your cat while it’s asleep – which, as any cat owner will tell you, is a lot of the time.