The Artistic Cat: It would be impossible to improve upon the artistic design of the cat

The Artistic Cat
The Artistic Cat

‘If an artist were to design an animal it would be impossible to improve upon the cat.’

The Artistic Cat
The Artistic Cat

That’s how ‘The Artistic Cat, Praise, Poems and Paintings,’a miniature book, published in China by Running Press in 1991, describes the beautiful reproductions of paintings and sayings throughout the book.

Now you might wonder, why Paws is writing about a book that’s over ten years old. It’s great to write about book that are hot off the press, like Jackson Galaxy’s ‘The Cat Daddy,’ or classics, like the late Cleveland Armory’s, ‘The Cat Who Came for Christmas,’ but everyone once in a while you find another gem in the rough – one that’s just a great read, one that everyone should take a book at.

Today, I’m talking about just that, a book that’s a treasure because of its content and because of where it came from. This was a special gift from a special person, not a significant other, but a very special ten-year-old nephew.

Last year he attended a holiday bizarre, in search of Christmas gifts for his family. At 10, he wasn’t in a position to go shopping at the big box stores or specialty boutiques. Armed with some dollars in his pocket, he was on a mission: to find gifts for the special people in his life, including his aunt, who absolutely loves cats.

He was very proud of his find – an interesting miniature book that I’m adding to my list of reviews during November, a month that celebrates many aspects of books, from children’s books, picture books, specialty books and more.

The book is beautifully illustrated as is seen on the cover, pictured here. According to the cover, it states, “From their ticklish whisker-tips to their sensitive serpentine tails, cats are masterpieces of line and proportion.” That definitely is coming from an artist’s point of view.

The cover aptly describes why cats are so fascinating. Their faces, their bodies, their movements, their personalities are captivating. “When they move their motion seems perpetual. Yet, when they tuck in their paws for a nap, they become as inert as a loaf of bread. …. Cats change their form to follow their function. ….”

The paintings, poems and quips in this book affirm that being a cat is an art.”

The books begins with a quote by John Weitz, an American clothes designer, which says, “Cats are always elegant.´ An inscription a the royal tombs at Thebes appears …”Thou art the Great Cat, the avenger of the Gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; thou are indeed the Great Cat.’

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    The rendition of Janet Thorndike’s Coven of Cats with the cats gathers in front of a sunset with sunflowers is just one example of the beautiful artwork.

    In the introduction, it states that cats, defy explanation.   Their curves don’t follow the rules of Euclid’s geometry, and their movements are a test to Newton’s laws of rest and motion including the laws of gravity.

    “These paragons of grace, paradoxical in nature, are subject to their own laws and heed only to their own etiquette. To observe the cat is to witness a singularly surprising creation.”

    That surprising creation is captivated in this miniature book. The cat has been the subject of art for thousands of years. The cat has been the subject of poetry, short stories, and books. It’s no wonder: the cat is quite extraordinary, very paradoxical, and to quote again the first words on the inside cover:  “If an artist were to design an animal it would be impossible to improve upon the cat.”

    This book can be ordered from the publisher for a fee. For more info, contact Running Press Book Publishers, 125 South Twenty-second Street, Philadelphia, Pa., 19103. The only thing better, a larger version to highlight all the wonderful artwork.

    Have you come across a book that you’d call a diamond in the rough? Do you have some old favorites that you’d like Paws to reflect upon? If so, please share.

    BJ Bangs is an established journalist, photographer, and an aspiring author. She loves everything about cats, including writing about them.


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    10. Another small-format artistic book on cats is In the Company of Cats: A Tribute to the Feline, 1991, a handsomely produced book of (mostly) photos , all accompanied by quotations (from single sentences to three pages) by famous people, particularly, authors.

    11. What a great book review! It sounds like a lovely book and would make such a meanigful gift. I love painting cats – their eyes have so much depth and color, their coats so much softness, their bodies such elegance.


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