When I look at my cat I see a cute, cuddly, adorable creature. When birds and small mammals look at cats, they probably see something like this nightmarish vision from Picasso’s 1939 painting, likely inspired by the violence of the Spanish Civil War.
It seems that Picasso wasn’t a big fan of the pampered domestic fluff balls:
I hate pure-bred cats that purr on the pillow in the living room. I like feral cats that hunt birds, scamper around the streets like crazy, drag everything they get. They look at you with wild eyes ready to scratch your face.
Louis Wain (1860 – 1939) was an English artist famous for the thousands of sketches and paintings of cats displaying human behaviour. They enchanted the Victorians who were more likely to see cats as a mildly irritating tool of pest control. Some of his art is too saccharine and cutesy for my liking, but I love this painting in which a feline bachelor party is clearly approaching an advanced stage of debauchery. I bet there’s catnip in those cigars!
I want him to have another living summer,
to lie in the sun and enjoy the douceur de vivre –
because the sun, like golden rum in a rummer,
is what makes an idle cat un tout petit peu ivre –
I want him to lie stretched out, contented,
revelling in the heat, his fur all dry and warm,
an Old Age Pensioner, retired, resented
by no one, and happinesses in a beelike swarm
to settle on him – postponed for another season
that last fated hateful journey to the vet
from which there is no return (and age the reason),
which must come soon – as I cannot forget
– Gavin Ewart
When I was compiling the most recent Top Ten Tuesday list dedicated to books with cats on the cover, I realised that I could have simply filled it with covers of Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic, The Master and Margarita, since there were so many of them.
It seems that designers and illustrators just can’t resist Behemoth, the enormous demonic black cat who accompanies Satan on his visit to 1930s Moscow – and who can blame them? He is certainly my favourite fictional feline and makes for a great cover image. Here are some of the book covers I found.
Despite the promising start, 2021 turned out to be pretty much a lockdown-ridden sequel to 2020. But once again, my little fluffball remained blissfully ignorant of the COVID-19 crisis and just enjoyed his chance to pester me while I was working from home.
She sights a Bird – she chuckles –
She flattens – then she crawls –
She runs without the look of feet –
Her eyes increase to Balls –
Her Jaws stir – twitching – hungry
Her Teeth can hardly stand –
She leaps, but Robin leaped the first –
Ah, Pussy, of the Sand,
The Hopes so juicy ripening –
You almost bathed your Tongue –
When Bliss disclosed a hundred Toes –
And fled with every one –
– Emily Dickinson