#5. This Postcard: United States, 1910
The magic of this illustration comes not from its novelty spring tail, but from the outside prospect of the spring breaking off in the mail. Should this occur, you're sending your loved one a jovial cat anus, a gesture so baffling that it has even managed to nonplus the kitten on the postcard itself.
#4. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema's The Inundation of the Biesbosch in 1421: Netherlands, 1856
Does my definition of "art history" solely encompass mailbox ephemera, Japanese woodblock prints of genitals, and Swart Cat? Yes. But what kind of Philistine would I be if I didn't pretend to know anything about a painting of a cat giving the gas face during the Romantic period? How many aristocratic children had to be sent to sanitariums after staring at this painting too long?
#3. Catwoman: Ghana, 2004
Look, I didn't plan on including so many Ghanaian movie posters in this article, but it's not my fault if an undiscovered Ghanaian Hieronymus Bosch thought that Halle Berry's finest film since The Flintstones had a scene in which a divine tomcat vomited up a hectare of esophagus.
#2. The Art of Louis Wain: England, Early 1900s
No discussion of cat artwork is complete without an acknowledgement of Victorian-era illustrator Louis Wain. Wain began his career drawing family-friendly caricatures of happy cats for postcards and newspapers, but -- due to some combination of psychosis and an increased interest in experimental patterns -- Wain's later output resembled what my D.A.R.E. officer said would happen to my brain if I ever listened to music with a 4/4 time signature.
Now you can erase "Do angel dust and read Beatrix Potter" from your bucket list.
#1. Feuerwerkbuch: Germany, 1584
I'm going to level with you -- this article was mostly an excuse to showcase some artwork I plan on tattooing all over my body when this whole "being a functional member of civilization" thing finally run its course. But there's one cat drawing out there that cuts so deep, it makes me forget that feline dander turns my skull into an exploding cistern of boogers. And that illustration comes from this Renaissance manuscript. Meet Sir Rocket Cat and his comrade-in-arms, the Bluebird of Zoom.
At first glance, it appears as if these two noble critters have been outfitted with some anachronistic jet packs by, oh, their neighborhood warlock. But the reality is much more sinister -- Feuerwerkbuch was a manual detailing the many creative ways 16th century warmakers could rain pyrotechnic death upon their foes. These two frolicking friends aren't going on a fanciful Merlin-approved escapade. No, they're beelining toward that castle in the background, where they will ignite into fiery clouds of gristle and sadness.
University of Heidelberg
"Forsooth, Bluebird of Zoom! That grease-drenched enchanter said the kidnapped serfs are held in yonder keep!"
Obviously, strapping incendiaries to confused birds and tabbies doesn't exactly make for foolproof siege weapons, but you know that didn't stop some evil bastard from trying it out (and burning down his lean-to 15 minutes later). Anyway, look how gleeful and proud Sir Rocket Cat is with his rucksack-o'-death tied to his torso.
This picture is so heartbreaking, it makes me want to build a time machine, zip back to the 1500s, deposit some piss-stained peasants in the Cretaceous period, chrono-jump back to the Renaissance, and whisk Rocket Cat away to the safety of modernity, all the while flipping the space-time continuum the bird.
And if Back to the Future physics have taught me anything, there's a good chance my actions will erase 50 percent of you from the time stream and mutate the other 50 percent into I'll-be-dipped.
Ghana Movie Posters
Is this your new evolutionary form or an excuse to sneak in one last Ghanaian film poster? You decide!
That's how I know Feuerwerkbuch contains the greatest cat picture of all time. I love that two-dimensional jet pack cat so much that I'd be willing to destroy reality itself on his behalf, allergies be damned. That picture makes me feel like a cat owner (which I guess feels like being a Doctor Who villain). In any case, nobody invent time travel if I'm within earshot.
You can find Cyriaque Lamar on Twitter.