Why Cats Paint

Cloudberry has always had a propensity for decoration. Whether it is the shredding of a paper ball, a roll of toilet paper, paper towels, or what have you, Cloudberry launches herself with gusto. And she is proud of her work too. After rearranging some paper item, Cloudberry brings it to me for approval (and treat). Sometimes she comes running with the item and sounds like a cross between a fire engine and a high-powered motor as she yells with her mouth closed. Admittedly, the paper balls were meant for cat fun, but the idea staring at a roll of toilet paper that has been shredded beyond belief when you needed it the most can be kind of wearisome.

Cloud at creation

Cloudberry begins artwork.

The dawn of understanding came with the purchase of the book Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics by Heather Busch and Burton Silver (Ten Speed Press, Calif., 1994). Whether the book is a put-on or for real, it is truly fascinating study of painting cats along with photos of the cats in action as well as of their artwork.

The book includes some samples of cat sculpture, and all of a sudden I realized that Cloudberry wasn't a shallow-minded little destroyer of household goods but an active artist. Her most impressive creation, then, is the braided rug known here as the Mobius mat. She single-handedly took it apart strand by strand until it suited her purpose for playing, whether chasing a shoelace or ball or other toy through its layers. In the course of playing, the Mobius mat assumes many unusual shapes. The other cats are amazed at Cloud's game and try to imitate, but none of them can understand how it "works." The secret of the Mobius mat is Cloud's alone. When the mat reaches a particularly interesting shape, she'll leave it alone for a few days. Afterward it's time to begin anew. Thus the creative cat.

An end result

An end result.

Of course, there is not much point to being creative without trying to expand one's range. Cloudberry's favorite activity these days are the "drums." Give her that rubber band attached to a bunch of papers! Listen to the various intonations she can achieve. Or there's her favorite shopping bag, which (if properly stuffed with a weighted object) can be made to resonate loud and clear. Yes, Cloud is one rockin' cat.

Look Out!  |  Cats  |  Cloudberry