A History of Cats in Art: How Our Feline Friends Have Influenced Art for Centuries

Elegant Cats Art by Dazzling Art Boutique

Cat Artwork by Elegant Cats Art

Cats are some of the most interesting and expressive animals. There is something about their aloofness and independent nature that makes them so fascinating to us. But this fascination goes far beyond just a love for petting these furry friends — the relationship between humans and cats has been one of constant influence on art, philosophy, literature, and even science. Throughout history, cats have left a permanent mark on our culture through their depiction in art. From ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to modern paintings by Picasso, cats continue to be an inspiration to artists everywhere. In this article, we will explore how cats have influenced art throughout history, from their usage as religious symbols to their presence in famous works of art like the Cat Cabinet by Johannes Vingboe or the famous Japanese cats by Kiyochika Kobayashi, famous cat artwork by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi or more modern renditions like The Bachelor Party by Louis Wain, Julie Manet(Child with Cat)by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The White Cat by Franz Marc, The Cat and Two Sparrows by Marc Chagall and the famous Cat Eating a Bird by Pablo Picasso.


Ancient Egypt: Cats as Gods and Mummies

The first known depiction of cats in art comes from Ancient Egypt. Cats were associated with the goddess Bastet, a goddess of fertility, protection and health. Cats were honored and worshipped as sacred animals, and mummified to be placed in the tombs of Egyptian royals to accompany them in the afterlife. Although this was the first depiction of cats in art, it also set a precedent for how cats would be depicted in art for the centuries to come. Cats were depicted as regal and aloof, just as they are in real life. This Ancient Egyptian fascination with cats is even reflected in the creation of the calendar. The Ancient Egyptians used a 360-day calendar based on the solar cycle, but they also had a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months of 30 days each. The lunar calendar was used to track the rise and fall of the Nile, which was essential to the survival of the people living along its banks. The lunar calendar was at first based on the cycles of the harvest mouse, but later was changed to use the changes in the positions of the moon. The changes in the positions of the moon are basically a recurring 29-day cycle.

Renaissance Era: Cats as Musicians, Scholars and Scientists

The Renaissance period is known for its love of learning, so it is fitting that many artists depicting cats during this time depicted them as scholars, musicians and scientists. Cats were often depicted wearing scholar’s robes, giving aloof looks from behind a pile of books. They were also depicted as musicians, playing lutes or other stringed instruments, and scientists, peering through telescopes and carefully crafting chemical experiments. During the Renaissance Era, cats were also seen as companions. They were painted in a variety of poses and situations, including being held by children and resting on the laps of ladies. Many Renaissance artists depicted cats as companions because they were a common sight in European homes. Cats were also common pets in these households because they kept the rodent population down.

19th Century: Cats as Companions and Romantics

The 19th century was a time of great discovery, but it was also a time of great Romanticism. Cats were often depicted during this era as companions or romantically linked with women. Cats were also popular subjects in children’s books during the Victorian Age. This was also the time when cats first became known as “mousers,” or rodent-catchers. While cats were often kept as companions, they were also used to keep rodent populations down in barns, stables, and other outbuildings. This was also the time when cats first became known as “mousers,” or rodent-catchers. While cats were often kept as companions, they were also used to keep rodent populations down in barns, stables, and other outbuildings.

The 20th Century: Cats as Artists and Influencers

The 20th century was a time of both artistic expression and world-changing discoveries. With the advent of new art movements such as Surrealism, Cubism, and Abstraction, cats were depicted in new and interesting ways. By the 1920s, many houses in the UK were required to have a cat to help control the growing rat population. Cats were seen as valuable members of the family, often depicted in art with their human companions. This shift towards seeing cats as more than rodent-catchers was also reflected in the scientific community. By the 1960s, scientists had discovered that cats were not only useful as mousers, but that they could also be used to control insect populations as well. The release of these findings accelerated the use of cats as domestic pets. Cats also played an influential role in the arts during the 20th century. Pablo Picasso painted his famous “The Blue Period” series of paintings, which featured blue cats and blue-tinted human subjects. The Blue Period was a time of great sadness in Picasso’s life, and he often turned to his cats for comfort, even painting them into his work as a form of therapy.

Cat Artwork by Elegant Cats Art
Cat Artwork by Elegant Cats Art


Artists have been influenced by cats for centuries, and their depictions have evolved and changed with each new era. Cats have been shown as gods, musicians, scientists, mummies, and even artists. They have also been used to express emotion and inspire creativity in many different artistic forms. Although cats are often depicted as aloof and independent, they have also been used to depict loneliness, affection, and comfort. Throughout history, cats have been an inspiration to artists everywhere, and it is likely that they will continue to be.


Cat Artwork by Elegant Cats Art

Beautiful Cat Illustration, Cat Artwork / Cat painting - inspired by Japanese art and artists as well as by Folk Art and Nature. Each cat in the Elegant Cats Art Collection has been created by myself (Ricarda), and is one of a kind.

Each cat art is available as Cat Fine Art Prints, Cat Art Canvas, as Framed Artwork or/and Cat posters.