Written By: Ben Cosgrove

In 1954, LIFE photographer Nat Farbman made a series of pictures of some enterprising (and entertaining) felines on Art Badertscher’s dairy farm near Fresno, Calif. It seems that one of Badertscher’s cats, Squirrley, rose up on her hind legs one day for a squirt of milk right from a cow’s udder and ever since, the farmer had been training all of the farm’s cats to do the same.

In Farbman’s most famous picture of the critters—the shot above that has been reproduced countless times through the years—Brownie (Squirrley’s son) makes a perfect catch while Blackie, a stray that “just wandered in one day and joined the act,” waits his turn.

Brownie gets the milk as Blackie looks on and waits his turn.

Brownie gets the milk as Blackie looks on and waits his turn.

Nat Farbman The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Cats begged for squirts of milk during milking at Arch Badertscher’s dairy farm.

Nat Farbman The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Cats enjoyed squirts of milk at Arch Badertscher’s dairy farm.

Nat Farbman The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

More Like This

animals

LIFE’s Tribute to Dogs

animals

When Maine Got Its Caribou Back

animals

Celebrities’ Best Friends

Young girl riding her pony as colt follows, 1956. animals

Mane Event: LIFE’s 25 Most Memorable Horses

Poet Rod McKuen playing record on stereo set while pet Siamese cat nuzzles his face affectionately, 1967. animals

Twenty-five Delightful Pictures of Cats

John Dominis African antelopes, 1969. animals

How John Dominis Photographed Wild Antelope Without a Telephoto Lens