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Art

Art

From the early statues of Bast created by Egyptian cat lovers to modern-day drawings by such popular feline artists as Martin Leman, statues and artwork featuring cats continue to be popular collectibles.

Cats have been admired in Japanese and Chinese art and pottery for more than 2,000 years. In many examples of both ancient and modern Asian art and pottery, feline images have covered a full range of subject matter from religious connotations, such as the Indian goddess of fertility riding a cat, to scenes of domesticity that show cats as beloved and well-cared-for companions.

When nineteenth-century Swiss artist and cat lover Gottfried Mind (1768–1814) painted his cat Minette and her kittens in a beautiful watercolor piece, artists realized that cats were great subject matter. Mind was nicknamed "the cat's Raphael" for the way he captured the personality of his felines.

Both French impressionist artists Edouard Manet (1832–1883) and Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) painted posed portraits of people with their pets and paved the way for today's celebrity pet photographers, such as Jim Dratfield and Christopher Ameruoso, to practice their craft and capture wonderful poses of today's fabulous felines.

Stamp from the United Kingdom commemorating Edward Lear's illustrated poem The Owl and the Pussycat.

Comic Strips and Cartoons

American cartoonist George Herriman, who created Krazy Kat in 1910, is recognized as the originator of the cartoon cat. The strip focused on the strange "love triangle" between Krazy Kat, Ignatz Mouse, and a protective police dog named Officer Bull Pupp. It was first published in the New York Evening Journal, owned by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The comic strip was animated several times, in 1916, in 1920, and again in 1925.

Felix the Cat, the creation of New Jersey cartoonist Otto Messmer, became a pop culture icon in the 1920s and was probably the first cartoon character cat to spawn an array of merchandise from stuffed toys to ceramic mugs. Felix gained further fame as the first image to be broadcast over the television airwaves. RCA Research Labs engineers creating the phenomenon of TV used a rotating Felix doll as their test model in their very first transmission on NBC. Felix was the first balloon to appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and Felix's popularity has only increased over the decades.

Puss Gets the Boot was the title of the very first cartoon starring Tom, a Russian Blue tomcat, and his house-mouse sidekick, Jerry. This cartoon twosome was the creation of famous MGM studio animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and launched what came to be known in the cartoon movie industry as comic violence. The never-ending rivalry between Tom and Jerry was the theme for more than 110 cartoons produced by the studio between 1940 and 1957. The original series won seven Academy Awards in the Best Short Subject Cartoon category.

Wax figure of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, a villain from the Batman comics and movies.

Puss in Boots is another famous feline. This is a 1950s greeting card from the USSR.

Another cartoon cat favorite who launched his screen career in the 1940s was the tuxedo cat named Sylvester and his canary nemesis Tweety. Creator Friz Freleng debuted this duo in the cartoon called Life with Feathers and introduced the world to a lisping cat who uttered the words "Thufferin' Thuccotash" throughout his career.

Three decades later, Garfield, created by Jim Davis, burst into homes across America in the cartoon strip that holds the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most syndicated newspaper comic strip of all time (and no doubt simultaneously boosted lasagna sales around the world). Since then, this pasta-eating feline has become a worldwide industry that includes fulllength movies, a TV series, clothes bearing his likeness, and a vast array of decorating accessories from lamps to duvet covers.

The most recent cartoon cat to gain international recognition is Mooch, a feline drawn by Patrick McDonnell as one of the lead characters in his cartoon strip Mutts. This endearing character is best friend to a dog named Earl. Both characters were based on McDonnell's own pets, his calico cat MeeMow and Earl, his Jack Russell Terrier. Their friendship in this popular strip focuses on the differences between cats and dogs as pets and draws parallels between friends.

Cartoon cats continue to draw a loyal audience, with their timeless antics, friendships, and archenemies. Furthermore, the creative talents of their creators, with their endearing drawings and tongue-in-cheek wisdom, have turned cartoon cats into a veritable art form.

Movies

Cats have starred in numerous Disney movies, from those already mentioned to such animated favorites as The Aristocats and The Lady and the Tramp. And, over the years, many real felines have also had successful careers on the big screen. Today, cats are even making movies themselves.

One of the most famous fictional cats is the Cheshire Cat from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, here commemorated on a British stamp.

American stamp commemorating Krazy Kat, one of the first cartoon cats.

Animated Cats

One of the most celebrated animated cats to stalk the big screen is the Pink Panther. The opening title sequence of the original 1963 The Pink Panther film featured a pink panther, a cartoon cat with pink fur and the manners of an English aristocrat created by David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng. The story involved a sophisticated jewel thief (played by David Niven), a bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers), and a large diamond called the Pink Panther.

The animated Pink Panther proved just as popular with movie-goers as the film itself, leading film company executives to not only make film sequels, but also to create a series of animated cartoon shorts with light-hearted plots featuring the stylish pink cat who only becomes flustered or angry when obtuse or offensive humans or troublesome gadgets, rodents, or insects threaten the tranquility of his existence. The cartoons were produced for both TV and the big screen. This inadvertent feline film star remains a popular plush toy favorite with children, has appeared in numerous video games, and continues to star in the opening credit sequences of the Pink Panther films, the most recent being The Pink Panther 2, starring Steve Martin as the blundering Inspector Clouseau.

Songs of the Cat

CatThe feline impact on classical composers includes Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, Maurice Ravel's Les Berceuses du Chat, and Igor Stravinsky's Le Faucon et la Petite Chatte.

In popular music, one of the most famous songs of all time is the "Siamese Cat Song," recorded by Peggy Lee in 1955 for the soundtrack of the Disney film The Lady and the Tramp. Over the years, numerous artists have covered it. When the cartoon cat and canary duo Sylvester and Tweety became popular on the silver screen, so did the song "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat," recorded by voice actor (Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird, to name just two of many), comedian, and singer Mel Blanc.

In 1963, a group called The Rooftop Singers recorded the song "Tom Cat," and three years later singer/songwriter Norma Tanega had a hit with her song "Walking My Cat Named Dog," which has since been covered by a number of other artists. In 1967, British singer Petula Clark had a hit with the song "The Cat in the Window," which compares a cat trying to get out of a window with the singer wanting to fly away. The Aristocats, another Disney cartoon movie, had cat lovers humming the tune "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat." (Over the years, there have also been many popular songs with the word cat in the title, such as "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones, that have nothing to do with felines.)

Apart from these works, cats had little impact on the music scene until the 1980s, when a new musical form, the rock opera, was born. The leading proponents of this musical form, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, transformed T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats into the very successful musical called Cats, which to date has been the second longest-running musical on Broadway, from October 1982 until September 2000, a total of 7,485 performances.

Real Cats

A Siamese cat named Pyewacket, who starred in the 1958 movie Bell, Book, and Candle with Kim Novak, won a PATSY (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year) award for the role. Audrey Hepburn's feline confidante, Cat, in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's was also the recipient of this coveted award.

Real Cats

A Persian cat named Snowball proved a memorable sidekick in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971). In a spoof of this Bond classic, Austin Powers (1997), actor Mike Myers starred as Dr. Evil, whose sidekick was a Sphynx cat named Mr. Bigglesworth.

And who can forget the handsome Himalayan named Jinx in the movies Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004)? These days, Hollywood talent scouts offer special "acting classes" to train cats for movie roles, as well as for successful careers in print and television commercials.

Behind-the-Camera Cats

In 2010, Friskies brand cat food fitted twenty-five cats around the country with special video cameras attached to their collars to film their daily lives. The purpose: to give cat owners an idea of life around the clock from the feline perspective. The feline repurrters included the author's cat, Fudge.

The result was a movie called Cat Diaries: The First Ever Movie Filmed by Cats, produced by Los Angeles-based director-producer Erik Denno and editor-director Jason Farrell. In true Hollywood fashion, the film was unveiled during a red-carpet event at The Grove's Pacific Theater in Los Angeles. Feline lovers such as Denise Richards and Larry King came to meet the celebricats. It was the perfect Tinseltown event. The film continues to be a huge hit on YouTube; as this book goes to press, there have been more than 1,734,500 viewings.

Stamps

Many countries around the world have issued stamps featuring felines. In 1974, Japan issued a series of nature conservation stamps that featured the Iromote Wild Cat. In 1983, New Zealand issued a set depicting different cat breeds. The Siamese has been featured in Thailand on numerous occasions, as well as in Britain-along with ginger cats and even the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Fairytale cats have also featured prominently on world stamps over the years. Puss in Boots appeared in Hungary in 1960, Poland in 1968, and Monaco Biblein 1978. A scene from the Arabian Nights featuring cats was immortalized on a 1965 stamp in Hungary, and Great Britain featured The Tale of Tom Kitten as part of a series commemorating author Beatrix Potter in 1993.

In 1982, the United States Postal Service issued a Christmas stamp with a kitten and puppy playing together. In 1998, images of a cat and a dog were included in the Bright Eyes stamp set that featured five pets, and again in 2002 on a stamp series issued as part of a spay or neuter awareness campaign.

In April 2010, a set of ten first-class stamps featuring five dogs and five cats adopted from a shelter in New Milford, Connecticut, called Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet, went on sale. They were designed to increase public awareness about shelter pets and encourage pet adoption. To bring greater attention to the cause, the United States Postal Service teamed up with TV celebrity Ellen DeGeneres and Halo, a holistic pet care company co-owned by DeGeneres, who pledged to provide a million meals to shelter pets. All the pets featured on these stamps were adopted into forever homes.

Many countries have featured cats on their stamps; the ones shown are from South Korea, Laos, and Bulgaria (left to right).

Social Media

One of the most significant changes in the world of communications has been the advent of what is collectively known as social media. Sites such as Facebook allow people to interact on a personal basis and have spawned both canine and feline Internet web-based communities for pet lovers to meet and mingle in cyberspace. Catster.com is hugely popular with cat lovers because the site allows cats to have their own web pages and join groups to socialize and blog. Cats have their own Facebook pages, too, and YouTube allows cat owners to share the wild adventures of their cats with each other.

Meow Memes

Meow Memes

Meme: a defining cultural idea or event shared around the world via the Internet.

There's no question that cat videos are the most watched category on the Internet. There are also the millions of cat photographs shared on social media at lightning speed. The feline meme queen is undoubtedly Grumpy Cat, whose photographs first appeared in 2012. In a mere six months, this kitty, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, went from Internet meme to IRL (in real life) celebrity in 2013. She's trademarked her name, launched a huge array of merchandise, become a spokes kitty for Friskies cat food, and also starred along with other internet kitty favorites Colonel Meow; Hamilton, the Hipster Cat; Oskar, the Blind Cat; and Nala in the world's first cat music video, a catchy little number called "It's Hard to Be A Cat At Christmas." The song was launched at the iconic Capitol Records recording studios in Hollywood in time for Christmas 2013 to draw attention to the plight of cats in shelters. Despite her down-in-the-mouth expressions, this petite and very placid kitty has a wonderfully sweet nature. She has earned a lot of kibble for her family in endorsement deals and deserves to lap up a life of luxury.

The author with Tardar Sauce, a.k.a. Grumpy Cat.

Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs

With the advent of Twitter in 2006, a social networking site that poses the question "What are you doing?," thousands of cat lovers came on board, all "tweeting" from their cat's perspective. Without doubt, the top cat on Twitter is a gray-and-white domestic shorthaired cat named Sockamillion, aka Sockington, who lives in Waltham, Massachusetts, with his computer administrator-owner Jason Scott. Scott started tweeting on Sockington's behalf in late 2007 and very quickly had more than a million and a half followers.

Not only is Sockington hugely entertaining, with such acerbic comments as "yeah this is love at first crunch I THINK THE KIBBLE AND I ARE GOING STEADY" and "SO WHAT'S WITH ALL THE HUB-BUB AROUND HERE some of us are trying to sleep for a decade or whatever you call until further notice," but he is also following in the footsteps of Romeo, another Twitter favorite feline, and using his celebrity to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for shelter and abandoned cats.

Sockington, a stray Scott found in a Boston subway station, has had offers to endorse products and speak about causes. He has turned them all down so far; as Scott maintains on behalf of his feline, "What does a cat have to do with the war in Darfur?"

Romeo and his owner, Caroline Golon of Columbus, Ohio, have, at the time this book was written, raised more than $60,000 for various animal causes via different social media sites. The cat has his own blog at www.romeothecat.com, some 16,000 followers on Twitter, and some 5,000 friends on Facebook.

Social networking and blogging from the feline perspective has become so popular that Golon co-hosted the first Blogpaws conference for pet bloggers in 2010, which has since become a popular annual event.

Social media is bringing cat lovers from around the world together to form a very close-knit community. Via data-accessible phones or the mere click of a computer mouse, they are able to exchange ideas about the latest cat toys, food fads, and health information. The impact that these sites have had on raising money for shelter pets is huge and continues to grow.

YouTube

Cat videos have some of the highest numbers of viewer hits on this popular Internet channel and have produced many feline stars. Among them is Gizmo, the cat who flushes the toilet and watches the water disappear only to flush again and again and again… There are dozens of talking cats, catnip-infused cats…and then there's Simon's Cat- the amusing cartoon feline every cat lover can relate to, drawn by British illustrator Simon Tofield, who has created his own YouTube channel to showcase his fabulous feline.

The author's cat, Fudge, participated in the filming of Cat Diaries: The First Ever Movie Filmed by Cats.

From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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