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Painted cats: Don’t try this at home

     An email making the rounds depicts cats decked out in bright and dazzling designs — paint jobs, supposedly, that have to be repeated every three months (due to hair growth) and for which owners pay $15,000 or more.

While it’s just the sort of thing pet owners who see their dog or cat as accessories might do, don’t break out the brushes (or dyes), and don’t forget that the true work of art is your dog or cat exactly as he or she naturally is. The email, and the paint jobs, are bogus.

Unfortunately, a lot more people will get the email than will read this (those sorts of emails have way more than nine lives), and the artistically-inclined, yet otherwise idiotic among them might even  entertain thoughts of giving their feline a new look — say something in a day-glo plaid.

But just in case somebody actually needs this warning, I’ll say it again: Don’t paint your cat.

A far safer  route (for you and the cat) would be to just enjoy the spoof.

It all started with “Why Cats Paint,” a fuzzy tongue-in-cheek volume about cats who became accomplished artists, written by Burton Silver and Heather Bush and published in 1994.

That was followed in 2002 with “Why Paint Cats: (Ten Speed Press), a photo book of cats with brightly colored geometric designs on their faces and bodies, supposedly painted by 23 artists who use cats as their canvas.

Even more people fell for it than the first book.

According to snopes.com, author Silver won’t admit that the illustrations were achieved through computer imaging.

He told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, “We never comment on the techniques used to create our art, because that’s not the point of the work. We see our role as that of encouraging discussion amongst readers and provoking them to question their value systems.”

Silver, in addition to creating a beautiful book, and pulling off a darned good hoax, did indeed encourage discussion, as evidenced by the fact that, six years after the book was published, its contents are still clogging (1.6 MB) emailboxes boxes across the country.


Pingback from Painted cats: Don’t try this at home | catveranda.com
Time November 8, 2008 at 12:35 pm

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Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time November 9, 2008 at 10:02 pm

At last a piece of spam that has never made it to my inbasket. For some reason, this really gave me the creeps. I’d love it if it were done in oil, acrylic, or watercolor as a painting of a colorful cat. But this live, sort of pseudo-photograph has something sinister about it. Maybe it’s that the fur no longer looks soft like a real cat’s. It looks sort of cold and synthetic. In the flower-child vernacular, it’s a cold prickly where one expects to find a warm fuzzy.