This Cat Scored a Free Photo Shoot, Potential Internet Stardom With Coupon

A woman reflection shows up in a portrait of her black cat.
Jacquelyn Pica got a free photoshoot for her cat, Bean, at J.C. Penney Portraits in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Cats are mysterious creatures we can only hope to one day understand.

Why do they love to knock stuff off tables?

Why do they insist that their food bowl is empty when clearly there’s food right there?

Why are they such internet gold?

I believe this last question is what may have prompted Arm & Hammer to partner with J.C. Penney Portraits on this great deal — a free cat photo shoot and 8-by-10-inch print, which retails for $24.98, with the purchase of Arm & Hammer cat litter.

How on earth did I find this deal, you ask? I was at my local Publix picking up cat litter, and the coupon was stuck onto almost every single box in the aisle. The coupon itself looks funny, with a small cartoon portrait of a black cat, so it caught my eye.

A black cat sniffs a coupon for a free cat photoshoot at J.C. Penny Portraits.
Bean sniffs the coupon his owner, Jacquelyn Pica, pulled out for the free cat photo shoot and 8-by-10-inch print at J.C. Penney Portraits. The coupon came with the purchase of Arm & Hammer cat litter from Publix. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

In this day and age, everyone wants a good cat pic to share on social media. This is 100% why I took the bait and used this coupon to give my kitty the attention he deserves.

Plus, I felt obligated to share this freebie with fellow cat-loving Penny Hoarders.

Before we get too far allow me to properly introduce the cat you see in the photos. His full name is Bean Man Jones. That name’s a little embarrassing, so we just call him Bean. He was a stray cat that kept coming up to my boyfriend, Alex, at the warehouse he works at almost every day.

He followed my boyfriend around the warehouse and didn’t want to leave his side. At some point, we had to accept that this 4-month-old kitty had chosen Alex as his person and take him home.   

Six months later, we were taking him to J.C. Penney for a photo shoot.  

The Car Carrier Comes Before the Close-Up

Before we headed to our local J.C. Penney, we took a few photos outside of my apartment complex. We live right on the water, which means loud boats driving by, so Bean was terrified.

Every cat owner knows that a terrified cat means claws digging into your skin. We did not survive unscathed, so we were off to a great start!

After the quick outdoor shoot, we headed inside to get him into the cat carrier. Suffice to say, he did not want to get in.

A young couple struggle to get their black cat in its cat carrier.
Jacquelyn Pica and Alex Villavicencio struggle to get Bean in the cat carrier to take him to J.C. Penney Portraits. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Once he was finally in his carrier, we loaded him into the car and headed toward his professional photo shoot.

Surprisingly, Bean loves to be in the car, so we opened his carrier for the drive. He’s like a dog in that sense — he’ll sit on your lap, stare out the window and won’t make a sound. If I took one of my other cats, there would have been nonstop meowing in protest of their imminent deaths the car ride.

The Candid Truth About Bean Man Jones’ Photo Shoot

A couple take their black cat on a road trip to the store.
Bean pops his head out of the carrier as Jacquelyn Pica and Alex Villavicencio bring him to J.C. Penney Portraits. Bean likes car rides and often sits on a person’s lap during a road trip. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

We parked, zipped up the cat carrier and headed inside J.C. Penney. Because it’s a huge department store, it took us a while to find the photo studio tucked away in a corner.

When we got to the studio, they were running a bit behind schedule, so we needed to wait a little. That little wait ended up being 45 minutes. Bean fell asleep in his carrier, so I had to wake him up when it was time for the shoot.

I wasn’t sure what to expect bringing my cat to a photo studio, but our photographer, Steven, was clearly a pro with cats and humans.

He brought out an adorable tiny chair we put Bean in to snap some photos. Steven knew the exact moment to take a picture and capture Bean’s personality. He’s a friendly cat who is usually up for anything, which is why he didn’t bat an eye when we took him to a department store for a photoshoot.

Steven captured him sitting in a tiny pet-size chair, loafing on another piece of furniture and giving us some seriously adorable cat eyes.

A portrait of a black cat taken at J.C. Penny.
Jacquelyn Pica shows off a portrait of Bean, her cat. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

It took some coaxing to get him to look in the right direction — we came armed with treats, keys to jingle and a receipt to crumple to get his attention. He only tried to explore the room a few times. At some point, he seemed to understand he had to sit in the chair to get this whole ordeal over with.  

Bean was so well-behaved and did better than I thought he would. We got about 15 good photos of him, which Steven said isn’t typical with pet shoots.

The $9.99 photo-session fee and 8-by-10 print were free with the coupon. I did, however, end up buying five more prints from the shoot, but J.C. Penney had an amazing sale in which wallet-sized to 13-by-10-inch prints were all only $3.99 each! Clearly, I had to buy as many as possible.

I bought five 13-by-10-inch prints and only paid $20. The original price for all of those was $90 — talk about Penny Hoarding!

A portrait of a couple and their black cat taken at JC Penny.
Jacquelyn Pica purchased additional photos, including this family portrait. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

If you have a kitty of your own and want to take advantage of this free photoshoot, you can print your own coupon. Of course, you also need to purchase Arm & Hammer Cat Litter and bring the receipt with you to J.C. Penney to get this freebie. This deal is good through April 30, 2018.

I haven’t shared my photos at the time of this writing because I was waiting on this article to be published, so we’ll have to wait to see if Bean becomes internet gold. However, I did buy some picture frames to hang up the photos in my apartment. They’re great conversation pieces, and I can’t help but laugh every time I look at them.

Jacquelyn Pica is a junior writer and SEO specialist at The Penny Hoarder. She’s still excited she got to write about a cat photo shoot.