Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cats on Wednesday - Creative Cats

Ten Speed Press published a fantastic book called Why Cats Paint several years ago. The Cleveland Plain Dealer said it “took the art world and animal world by storm with its unprecedented record of cat creativity.” In fact, it is a hilarious spoof of modern art and what I’ve always considered to be the often pretentious world of fine art. Even knowing the book is an elaborate joke, one can’t help believing bits of it and toying with the idea of what your cat might do with a canvas or wall or floor or couch -- and some paint.

From my experience as an artist, actual cats are more likely to show their feelings about your work by sitting on it or walking across it than they are to create their own art. Several years ago I heard the wonderful illustrator Trina Schart Hyman speak about her work and her cats. She was a devoted cat lover. Apparently one of them spilled ink, or paint, onto a finished illustration just before she was to send it off to the publisher. I’m sure every cat-loving artist can relate to and sympathize with this horrifying prospect and has their own tales to tell.

But how about our cats ….. Are they critics? Do they sometimes feel compelled to prevent us from finishing what they think is less-than-perfect work? Or by ‘contributing’ to it have they fulfilled their own overwhelming urge to create……


  1. I have a chair that is a one of a kind sculptural piece done by my cat Chelsea. In the past year she's been joined by Bobbie. I believe he is her muse as she has gone to even greater depth in her creativity. Fortunately, as far as I can tell, this is the only sculptural piece in the house. Who am I to not say it's not art if she feels content with the piece? She is currently lying in the sun next to the chair. Perhaps contemplating her next moment of creativity. And yet, I have never seen her at work.

  2. Your vivid description is as good as a photo. Chelsea is lucky to have a patron such as yourself, who understands the passion to create. I, myself have had more than my share of creative cats and their works of art. I strive to be non-judgemental and appreciative of their efforts while keeping a blanket ever-ready to conceal works-in-progress.