Category: Drawing Animals
How to Draw a Cat

How to Draw a Cat

Learn how to draw a fluffy four-legged friend

In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw a realistic cat. We’ll first look at the cat’s anatomy, then build a sketch based on that knowledge, and then draw the cat together.

Draw a Realistic Cat

Anatomy: Body of a Cat

Before we draw a realistic cat, we should take a look at its anatomy or bone structure. This will help us better understand the cat and draw it in different poses.

Anatomy of the cat BHL9413033

Jennings, H. S.; Reighard, Jacob Ellsworth, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The skull of a cat is round and has a short snout. The neck is flexible and allows the cat to turn its head in different directions.

From the head, the body extends with an elegant curvature of the back. The spine of the cat consists of a series of vertebrae that give it stability. The front legs are shorter compared to the hind legs, giving the cat a characteristic posture.

The shoulder blades and the thoracic bones connect the front legs to the trunk. The hind legs are strong and muscular, which allows them to make long jumps and move fast.

The cat (most of them, at least) has a long tail, which keeps its balance while climbing and jumping. The tail is used in various ways to express the cat’s body language.

When drawing a cat, it is important to consider the proportions and mobility of the body. The length of the legs and tail can vary depending on the breed or individual cat. By becoming familiar with the anatomy, we can capture the unique characteristics of a cat in our drawings.

Drawing the Sketch of a Cat

Now that we understand the skeleton of a cat better, we can use that knowledge for the sketch. I recommend using a reference for this part. Maybe you are a cat owner and can draw it in a still pose, for example, sleeping.

Pay particular attention to the joints of the front and back legs. Even if the beginnings of the legs are not visible in the later drawing, we should still draw them to get the proportions right.

Drawing a Cat: Rough Sketch

In the next step, we draw the contours of the body, ears, and eye. The lines are not too straight, because the cat’s body has curves or slight bends in various places due to the posture, muscles, and fur.

Drawing a cat: Sketch

Examine your reference and take plenty of time to make a detailed sketch. Later it will be difficult to correct mistakes.

Drawing the Cat’s Fur

Before we draw the cat’s fur, we should mark the places for shadows and highlights. This will make it easier for us to draw the fur realistically. If we focus only on the fur texture and no longer on the light, our cat may look flat later.

Drawing a Cat: Sketch of Fur

I draw an ordinary black cat with pencils. You can use pencils as well or other drawing tools for your drawing, such as colored pencils or charcoal pencils.

I start with the cat’s legs, but depending on the pose of the cat, it may be best to start in a different place. When drawing the fur, be aware that fur runs in various directions on different parts of the body. In my drawing, the fur on the upper part of the leg curves from right to left. On the lower part, the fur runs downward and also becomes much shorter.

Drawing a Cat: Legs

Depending on the position of the tail, the fur can also stick out in different directions or lay down like an almost perfectly smooth surface.

Drawing a Cat: Tail

For the cat’s torso, you should make sure that the fur between the torso and legs and tail blends well. Although the fur may change direction at these transitions. This should not be done too abruptly but smoothly and with curved strokes.

Drawing a Cat: Body

The ears of a cat can be a challenge if your drawing is small (like mine) or if you don’t have a good template at hand. I recommend in that case to go looking for more references. The ear of a cat has an interesting shape that you should also capture well for a realistic drawing.

Drawing a Cat: Ears

Let’s move on to the rest of the head. Pay attention to the direction of growth of the fur, which is very varied on the head of a cat. Also, don’t forget to draw the whiskers around the snout.

Drawing a Cat: Body

Last but not least, I would recommend taking a little break. Afterward, you can see if there are shadows missing in some places or if you want to emphasize the shine of the fur (for example, with an eraser).

Drawing a realistic Cat