The cat who paints men

We have a book somewhere in this house which is all about cats who paint. Starting with a review of the history of feline art, the book explains how cats become artists, and how their gifts can be developed. It includes many colour photographs of the artists and their artwork. I ought to read it one day.

Cat art in action

Cat art in action

The Worcester Animal Rescue League even once put on an exhibition of cat art. That is, Worcester in the US, not the UK. There is quite a lot on the internet about cat art. It’s obviously a popular topic.

Do cats actually have creative urges? Animals have been proven to be capable of extraordinary achievements so could artistic expression also be a talent some animals possess? I would certainly say that my cat has art critic tendencies (not sure about her own artistic urges). She will sit on drawings of mine she likes, or sit next to paintings I am working on, seemingly to admire them.

She likes this one

She likes this one

The Museum of Non-Primate Art has a website devoted to the promotion of cat artistic and creative activities. Art historian and animal philanthropist Dr Peter Husard founded MONPA in the 1970s and he and his team of expects spent time studying various subjects such as the digging pattern of moles, and the flying formation of birds, passing this off as performance art. However, a large part of their resources are dedicated to studying cat art.

According to the museum, the best way to encourage your cat to paint is to leave a tub of  acrylic paint with a board near the litter tray. If you don’t know where to buy your acrylic tubes you will find the best amazon acrylic paint here for you! Cats use marking of their urine and feces to mark their territory, so apparently this instinctual urge may connect to any creative feelings. Another study conducted by those at MONPA show that cats may be susceptible to what is called Invertism. When cats draw something from life, they draw it upside down. I’m tempted to try it with our cat. Perhaps with an iPad rather than real paint.

Of course she’ll never find herself in the same league as the elephant.

He is a genius

He is a genius



MONPA Webiste, [last updated 4 December 2012]

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4 Responses to The cat who paints men

  1. vombatidae says:

    the book you refer to is a hoax, as is the muesum (notice that the museum claims to have numerous branches but there is no infromation on their locations). Try to find any information on Dr. Peter Husard – there is none because he is made up. The book on cats that paint references museums that don’t exist and egyption art that doesn’t exist. It is a well done book but a hoax nonetheless.
    Elephants often paint in zoos, but only some are really into it. I worked with the painting elephants in Zoo Atlanta and while watching them paint was neat (I have one of theirs), they were taught how to hold the brush and paint with it. They basically did it for food rewards and generally painted in up-down strokes only. Of the elephants out there who learn to enjoy the task (I’m not sure of the number but there are at least a few) none can paint recognizable representations of objects. Those that can (all in Asia) are trained to paint a specific picture – an apple, an elephant etc. With animals as smart as elephants such a task would not be hard to do though it might take a while to teach.

    • beckybendylegs says:

      Thanks very much for the feedback. I’ll take a look another look at the information about the museum and the book. It is an attractive idea, though, that cats are creative. I suppose if they really are then they hide it well. The information about elephant painting is interesting too, so thanks for that as well.

  2. vombatidae says:

    I do think they can be creative but perhapse in other ways. Some can come up with some pretty creative solutions to problems for instance. Other than some painting elephants and primates, I have not heard of many non-human animals intentionally creating art. The best exception I can think of are dancing parrots which each have their own preferences for music and moves (though I’m not sure how common that is). Birds have been shown to have the ability to follow and anticipate notes in music which otherwise has only been known in us.

  3. Pingback: Cats can paint – with iPads | BeckyBendyLegs

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