Cats in Film — Cat Girl (1957, British-American)

In a somewhat similar vein to the 1942 film Cat People, the 1957 British-American film Cat Girl is based on the same premise of a woman being able to turn into a cat. The main character, Leonora, is unhappily married and suffers from the family curse, that of turning into a leopard. After taking revenge […]

Cats in Film–The Tomb of Ligeia (1965, Vincent Price)

Early films sometimes based on 19th century novels, featured vicious felines that were latent killers.  The 1965 film The Tomb of Ligeia, based on one of Poe’s short stories, revolves around the main character, Ligeia’s, desire to be immortal.  At the beginning of the film, a black cat jumps on Ligeia’s coffin and Ligeia opens […]

Cats in 20th Century History (Part 6 – Felix the Cat)

The cat we have all come to know as Felix first made his appearance as Master Tom in Feline Follies.  Released just after WWI in 1919, and directed by Otto Messmer, the @4 minute short features the original Felix the Cat, here called Master Tom.  Our hero cat is lured away from his duties of […]

Cats in the 19th Century (Part 9-Cats in Art-Theophile Steinlen)

Probably best known for his posters, the Swiss artist Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923) loved cats. As a young boy, he drew cats in the margins of his books and grew up to live in a house he named, “Cat’s Cottage”.  While living in Paris, his house on the Rue Caulaincourt  became a well-known gathering place for all the […]

Cats in the 19th Century (Part 8-Cats in Art-Renoir and Rousseau)

The great artists Renoir and Rousseau appreciated cats in art and included our mischievous felines in their paintings as symbols of magic, demons, sexuality and domesticity.  In Renoir’s Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children, the cat is barely visible on her lap. A very close and careful look at this painting reveals deeper images and meanings. There is […]

Cats in the Enlightenment (Part 13 – Cats in Art – William Hogarth)

The English painter, William Hogarth, (1697-1794), who was highly critical of the lax social mores of the time, set out to draw and paint about issues which he felt strongly, using the cat symbolically in many of his works.  A versatile artist, Hogarth was both a painter and engraver.  Some of his most famous engravings […]

CATS IN BAROQUE PAINTINGS (Part 2)

The Dutch painters of the golden age turned to realism instead of religious subjects, as portrait painting was much more lucrative. Dutch genre paintings tend to illustrate everyday life at all levels of society, and cats, essential to most households, are often in these still lifes and portraits. In The Katzen Familie (1650), the Dutch […]

DOMESTIC CAT HISTORY IN THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD

BACKGROUND The Early Modern Period (1500-1700), was an era marked by global exploration, the rebirth of classical thought and religious reformation. Christopher Columbus’ ships were the first to sail across the world in 1492, probably carrying cats to kill mice and rats, much as the ancient Phoenician vessels did centuries before on their first voyages around the Mediterranean.  And […]

CATS AND WITCHCRAFT (Part 5)

SIR HENRY WYATT: As we know from last week’s post, Queen Elizabeth I was not at all fond of cats.  However, in contrast, Elizabeth’s adversaries seemed to like cats.  Sir Henry Wyatt, the Duke of Norfolk, after having been committed to the Tower by Queen Elizabeth I for plotting to take over her throne, was […]

HISTORY OF THE CAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES (PART 11)

The History of the Cat in Medieval Paintings: From literature the cat sprang onto Medieval European canvases depicted as a force of evil and chaos, a mouse catcher, or simply as a disinterested spectator.  In the 1475 painting Pilate Washes his Hands, a white cat lies to the side of Pilate perhaps an indication of […]