Startled cats, laughing horses and a dog with its nose in a biscuit jar are all vying for the top prize in a comedy photography competition.

The finalists have been announced in the Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photography Awards, which received more than 2,000 entries from 81 different countries.

Photographers from 81 countries have entered the competition (John Carelli/ Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photography Awards/PA)

In its second year, the overall winner of the competition will receive £3,000 and be crowned the 2020 Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photographer of the Year.

The competition also aims to raise awareness for homeless pets in the UK, with 10% of its sponsorship fee and 10% of all entry fees donated to animal welfare charity Blue Cross.

Winners will be judged by competition founders Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sullam, who also created the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, Mars Petcare and the Blue Cross, along with wildlife television presenter and writer Kate Humble.

Photographer Malgorzata Russell is from Edinburgh (Malgorzata Russell/Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photography Awards/PA)

“The entries this year have been completely and utterly what we needed to raise our spirits in 2020,” said Mr Sullam.

“It has been a tough year for many, but these images have not only made us laugh out loud, but also re-affirmed our desire to drastically reduce animal cruelty and pet orphanage.

Horses, cats and more pets are all in the finalists’ photos (Peter von Shnen/Mars Petcare Comedy Pet Photography Awards/PA)

“The positive movement created by this competition is so uplifting and hopefully we can achieve a similar reaction from all who see this competition!”

The winners will be announced on November 24.