Contrary to what you might think, I find it easier to work with cats than with dogs. In the beginning I thought this might be the case because we have cats and I know how to treat them, but I grew up with dogs, so I really don't think that that is the reason why.
The only 'animal only' shots I have done have been of my cats because I can pull the camera out when they do something cute. I have worked with some owners and their pets and think that this is the only way to go when the animal is not your own. Here is why:
The owner will help calm the pet, he/she knows the pet well and can interact with it, this makes great photos.
I will attach some photos I got out of a cat/owner session and a dog/owner session. The cat was herself, she likes to hiss and I caught it on film, a great shot. The dog had just come home from the groomer, since the owner wanted her to look her best. This turned out to be a bad idea. The dog was very excited about seeing her owner after several hours away and would not sit still. We got some cute shots, but nothing as special as with the cat.
If you own a well trained, older, calmer dog, the shoot will go well, as long as the owner is in the room with the pet. Let's face it, that pet does not know you, and though an animal is the best judge of character, they do not warm up to strangers as quickly as humans do. Some pets don't want strangers in their house and are reserved when they are in a different location.
Cats, as well, have different personalities and many hide when a stranger appears in their territory. Take our youngest cat, Rascal, you will meet him shortly, he runs and hides when the doorbell rings, whereas our older female cat, Diamond, whom you will also meet shortly, comes and greets everyone who walks through our door. She is my guide to whom I can trust; if she does not come up to a stranger, I better watch out:)
Rascal would never sit for a photographer other than me. I would have to interact with him and be in the shots, to get anything worthwhile. That is how little Rosie is, whom you will meet as well. Remember the hissing picture I mentioned, that was her:)
So, do you want a great professional photograph of your pet? If so, ask your photographer to stay in the room with your pet or if you may interact with your pet during the shoot. You will get great photographs and your pet will act well for you.
Meet Rascal, the shy little loverboy:)
Here is Diamond, who loves boxes of all sizes...
Feeding her treats finally calmed our little poodle down
Here is the great little hissing moment
and shortly after a cuddle with mommy. I would not have gotten any of those shots without the owner's interaction with her cat.