Maddox is a cute kitten. Typically a photo doesn’t need much more than that. But the Austin Siamese Rescue where Maddox comes from is also using a filter on this photo to give it the extra edge needed to stand out among other cute kitten pics.
Traditionally photographic filters are attachments that you affix onto the end of your lens. The use of these types of filters have been around since the advent of photography, so there are many, many types. There are filters for adding or subtracting color, for adjusting to certain wavelengths of light like fluorescent or tungsten, filters that warm or cool, polarizing filters that reduce glare and the list goes on. Maddox’s photo is likely using a type of warming filter to give it that gentle orange glow.
More recently, smartphone applications like Instagram and Flickr have brought filters into popularity, making it easy to digitally add a filter to your photos and to let you experiment with different ones to get the look you want. Filter effects can also be simulated in editing applications like Photoshop. So no matter how you’re shooting it may be worth experimenting with some different filters. Sometimes the right one can help make your photo stand out and come to life.