The 10 Creepiest Cat Pictures in Art History
I realize that many of you love cats. Sadly, I don't share your zest, as I'm allergic as hell to the animals. Whenever a playful kitten sidles up next to me, I don't think "Gumdrop jubilee candyfloss." No, my first thought is "A domesticated quadruped. Now is the time to leak enzymes out of my eye sockets." Truth be told, I'd rather be responsible for the general welfare of 300 pounds of weevils than one happy Manx.
"Your name is Ambrosia, your name is Napoleon, and your name is -- oh fuck it, you're all named Roy."
In fact, I can only hang out with cats after one or two "Benagronis" (standard Negroni, swap out the Campari with Benadryl, garnish with poor life choices). Luckily, I can delight in the li'l fluffballs from a safe distance, as humans have been artistically immortalizing felines for centuries. This proud tradition -- which spans from the Bast cults of ancient Egypt to the werejaguar worship of the Olmec -- continues unabated to this day.
And this is our generation's The Last Supper.
Yes, it is only through civilization's great works of cat art that I can deduce what it's like to own a wonderful pet that stealthily harbors a horrific barbed penis. (Art: It's transcendent like that.) Now that such thoughts are marinating in our collective brain like so many Toxoplasma gondii parasites, here's my monolithically objective list of humanity's best cat doodles.
Demonic Cat: Ghana, Circa Late 20th Century
The advent of home video in the 1980s also saw the birth of Ghanaian mobile cinemas. These wheeled movie houses drove from town to town, screening everything from kung fu blockbusters to Nigerian horror flicks armed with nothing but a TV, a VCR, a portable generator, and a secret weapon -- lurid homemade movie posters, usually painted on flour sacks.
And they said Across the River 1 ran out of ideas.
On a bunch of these posters, it's unclear if the artist even knew what the heck the movie was about (let alone the actual title), but one thing's for certain: These guys knew what filled seats.
If this is how Ghana was sold Twilight, somebody deserves a CLIO.
Anyway, back to Demonic Cat. I have no idea what the hell's going on here, and the Internet's not giving up answers. Is there a Nollywood thriller called Demonic Cat? Did somebody think Deliverance was about dwarfs and man-eating tabbies instead of banjos and Burt Reynolds killing yokels in a wetsuit? All I do know is that Demonic Cat looks like the best film since Zoltan, Hound of Dracula.
We think this is The King's Speech.
Related: 15 Grossly Misleading Movie Posters
Distracted by the Cat: Japan, Circa 1802
From what I understand, cats can be bossy. The gripping scene above epitomizes this. Distracted by the Cat comes to us from woodblock artist Kitagawa Utamaro, who depicts a needy feline spoiling some Edo-period logjamming. Sexy prints weren't uncommon back then, but who exactly was the target demographic here?
Was "cat ruins the mood" an erotic subgenre, much in the same way modern pornography is divided into increasingly arcane niches, like "amateur," "pork pie hats," and "filmed on a Thursday"? As the old adage doesn't go, "Three XXX Japanese woodblock prints don't constitute a trend," but we'll let you be the judge.
Apropos of nothing, shout-out to the cast of This Is Not a Tuesday XXX. There's a film that knows its audience.
Finally, here's a painting of a rascally cat surrounded by grotesque toadstool dongs you never knew you never wanted.
He-Gassen: Japan, Circa 1600s-1800s
And while we're on the topic of living-room-friendly artwork of the Tokugawa period, you really owe it to yourself to see the He-Gassen, a series of scrolls depicting gassy warriors sparring with anal typhoons. Sadly, this particular scene wasn't actually the shogun equivalent of reprimanding your pet with a squirt bottle.
This Stamp: Comoros Islands, 1992
This is a stamp commemorating Felix, one of France's pioneering astro-cats. As you can see here, researchers implanted electrodes into his skull so they could visualize how much Felix hated them for implanting electrodes into his skull. One can but assume that this stamp was a ploy by the Comoros Islands postal authority to trick people into believing they were receiving mail from the future.
Sleepwalkers: Ghana, Circa Late 20th Century
Here we have another Ghanaian mobile cinema poster detailing the climax of the 1992 Stephen King movie Sleepwalkers, which -- I shit you not -- was about a duo of incestuous cat vampires whose mortal weakness was common house cats. Here's video evidence:
What's magnificent about this is how the artist tried to cram as many deranged cats as possible into a single poster, going so far as to transform the werecatpire's right foot into a vaguely constipated tabby. The artist wins further points for misquoting William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for no apparent reason. Incidentally, this wasn't the only placard that Ghanaian mobile cinema artists drummed up for Sleepwalkers. Here's another smashing design that also bears the "humans grafted together with cats" motif ...
The font promises a zany Marx brothers comedy.
... and here's an ad for a film named Swart Cat, which I'm guessing is about a Gorgon who opens a Boar's Head franchise. Please note that the artist has implemented his own rating system.
"Swart Cat is rated 'Brutal Film' for the following reasons: a plot that defies the written word."
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.