I’m way late to this party so I’ll just try to limit some general comments to your latest question if I may?
Maestro Clicker’s suggestions are, as usual, all Golden. Might I further suggest that with your black kitty shot you are looking at not a distance issue but an exposure issue?
This is a tough shot with a rather large dynamic range. Flickr is reporting a General Imaging Co. x400 camera. I’m not familiar with this machine so I had a quick lookup to see what you might have at your disposal.
It is also reporting the metering mode as “Average” and an exposure mode of “Auto” for the black cat shot. Basically (in a nutshell) what this means is that your camera’s metering system automatically averaged the exposure value for the entire scene to middle gray and naturally underexposed the cat. Had you had your metering mode set to “Center Weighted Average” you would probably have gotten your cat a little closer to properly exposed. This metering setting (while still averaging the scene) will give metering priority to a smaller, more centered area of the frame.
The x400 is also capable of “Spot Metering”. And this is probably what I would have used in this case. This mode meters a relatively small circle (smaller even than Center Weighted) in the middle of the viewfinder. Usually somewhere in the hood of 5% of the frame. But, and this is a pretty big but, you will have to do some research/study/practice/experimenting to master this mode. Essentially it will attempt to render the spot you are metering (in this case the cat) to middle gray and you will need to be able to interpret how to set exposure compensation in accordance to the meter reading and the scene/subject you are shooting. In this case a typical example would be to spot meter the cat and set your exposure compensation to maybe -1.5-2 stops (remember, this is -1.5-2 stops below middle gray toward black) depending on how black you want the black cat and how much detail you want to preserve. Conversely, if you were shooting a white cat and spot metered it you would set EC to +1.5-2 stops (1.5-2 stops above middle gray toward white) depending on how white you wanted the cat and how much detail you wanted to preserve. This is going to work best if you shoot in manual.
I noticed on the specs that the x400 lists that it is capable of HDR- post processing only. No idea what this means but if the camera is capable of automatic exposure bracketing that is another option but requires blending the exposures in post. If the camera is incapable of AEB you can always do it manually.
One exposure for the general scene, one for the grass, one for the cat, (exposure values of -2/0/+2) and blend them. One advantage of this is that you can get a proper exposure for the grass and another for the cat. With a single metered frame there is going to be some tradeoffs. To correctly expose the cat the grass is going to be off a bit. But the question is what do you want properly exposed and the answer is going to be that you want the subject properly exposed.
So, if I haven’t confused the issue beyond all redemption I would happily suggest that you research your camera’s metering modes and exposure bracketing as something fun to do while you are sitting around swilling your favorite beverage! Then get a black target with some detail work on it and a white target with some detail work and practice getting the exposures happening. Then bring it back in here and show us what you got going on.