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The Cat as Muse

Gorgeous new “CATologue” illustrates the many ways our feline friends have inspired artists, writers, and thinkers

By: Eleanor Munk

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Nate S. Rhodes

It’s entirely possible to inadvertently while away hours flipping through this fascinating love letter to cats. Caticons: 4,000 Years of Art Imitating Cats, lovingly compiled by Sandy Lerner, chronicles the influence of felines on art, literature, and music, both globally and throughout history. This image-rich book is a compendium of artworks, quotes, and musings on cats, featuring a gorgeous array of cat-themed art, such as a Japanese fan on gouache dating from the 1920’s (featuring delicately rendered kittens frolicking with a ribbon) and Romantic cat portraiture, like “A Cat in a Looking Glass,” painted by Austrian artist Carl Kahler. The beautifully assembled “CATologue” charts the fascinating ways in which cats have inspired and enchanted artists throughout generations. Interspersed with literary segments that pay homage to fabulous felines, this lovely collection not only provides a thorough historical perspective on the influence of the cat in society and culture, but also serves as a touching ode to a companion that has captured the hearts of so many. By showing readers how cats have appeared in the eyes of artists, Caticons celebrates and pays tribute to the time-honoured relationship between cats and humanity. In the afterward, Sandy self deprecates that “as we all know, organizing cats is a fool’s goose-chase” but she has definitely risen to the challenge, creating a nuanced look at our relationships with and love for this complex and beautiful animal.

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