Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Cats in Art

The cat—that most graceful, stubborn, and agile of animals—has been a favorite subject of artists the world over from prehistory to the modern day. A spectacular 7,000-year-old engraving in Libya depicts a catfight. Figures modeled by the Babylonians remind us of their belief that the souls of priests were escorted to paradise by a helpful cat. Pablo Picasso was known to have loved cats and famously portrayed them as savage predators. In Victorian times, cats were depicted in loving family groups with mothers caring for their playful kittens. Today, the cat is one of the most popular domestic pets on the planet, and feline art is a hugely popular theme across the world.

In his latest eye-catching book, best-selling author Desmond Morris tells the compelling story of cats in art. He explores feline art in its many forms, tracing its history from ancient rock paintings and spectacular Egyptian art to the work of old masters, avant-garde representations, and the depiction of cats in cartoons. Morris discusses the various ways in which artists have approached the subject throughout history, weaving illuminating stories with rarely seen images. The result is a beautifully illustrated book that will delight anyone with a Kitty, Max, or Tigger in their life.

224 pages | 120 color plates | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 | © 2017


Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


“Emphasizes the rich variety of cat images in art history, from a 7,000-year-old Libyan carving of cats fighting to Ronald Searle’s cartoon cats. Featuring 130 reproductions, Cats in Art explores the various manifestations and meanings behind the feline motif in art history. . . . The book’s scope encompasses not only Western art but also tribal art from pre-Columbian Latin America, art from India and Japan, and contemporary Malaysian wall murals of the 101 Lost Kittens Project. Morris strikes a perfect balance between scholarly information and pop culture history, and, as a result, this book will appeal to cat lovers and art historians alike.”

Publishers Weekly

"Stick with me like fur to black pants as I jump into the list like a cat into an empty cardboard box. . . . For a more sophisticated look at our feline friends, there’s no better place to start than Morris’s Cats in Art. This book is organized by time period, starting with prehistoric depictions of cats on cave walls in France and continuing through Warren Kimble and beyond. All but two of the 137 illustrations are in full color, which really brings the cats to life. Don’t miss the hidden gem at the back of the book: a three-page bibliography of sources of more kitty information."

The Cat Lady | Daily Herald, Best Books of 2017

"Cats in Art isn't really so much of an 'art book' as it is a book about cats in general, with an emphasis on society's changing ideas about felines and anecdotal stories about artists and their experiences with cats. . . . Morris writes in a warm, informative way with his enthusiasm and knowledge about his subjects clearly on display."


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press