94: Why Cats Paint

94: Why Cats Paint

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Why Cats Paint

An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he — for some reason — thinks it would be a good idea to give them.

~Andy Warhol

To my cat, doors are the enemy. That includes the hall door where the evil vacuum lives, and the dreaded bathroom door, which she has learned to push open — self-taught — to the surprise of guests who mutter, “Wait, wait. There’s someone in here.”

Any door she can’t open herself must immediately be opened by the nearest owner of an opposable thumb. Any delay results in cringe-inducing door scratching, her claws like ten keys dragged down the side of a new car.

Knowing this when my husband and I started some home projects — me painting the hall, and him setting black accent tiles for the bathroom floor — I said, “I’m not locking Alley away. She hates it. And besides, she’s asleep.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” my husband said.

“She’ll be fine,” I said. And she was fine — until she woke up.

My cat has a fine mousing instinct, but unfortunately no mousing ability. A Mr. Magoo with fur, she’s been known to stalk balls of yarn and wool socks, but I never expected her to stalk the paint roller.

Quicker than I could yell, “Alley! Don’t!” she did a classic four-legged pounce into a tray full of yellow paint. Then the race was on. She shot straight up, executed a bank-turn off the wall, and, performing a high-speed talk-to-the-tail, raced down the hall leaving a trail of yellow paw prints. In hot pursuit, I followed in the number-two position, shouting useless commands such as, “No! Stop! Don’t jump on the sofa!”

With paint flying from her long-haired tail, she darted into the living room, onto an end table, down the sofa, across the oriental carpet, then into the dining room and onto the buffet, skidding its length before making an Olympian leap over the table and landing on the kitchen counter, where she finally ran out of gas. There she sauntered over to her food dish and sat nonchalantly, like she was asking, “So… what’s for dinner?”

All through her bath she yowled, and for the rest of the day she wouldn’t come near me.

It took hours to remove my feline Picasso’s yellow period. That night I fell into bed exhausted, but still angry at the indignity of public bathing, my cat refused to join me.

Early the next morning though, she woke me, pawing at my neck. Then something hit my pillow with a dull thud. Oh, yuck! A revenge offering.

But to my surprise her “gift” wasn’t a dead mouse or worse, a half-dead mouse; she’d brought me a small black tile. Though not particularly mouse-like, she obviously disagreed.

Then from the bathroom my husband yelled, “Cripes! She’s ruined the floor! Every tile is crooked. And one’s missing.”

Purring, my cat nudged her gift closer to me, her way of saying, “I forgive you for the bath.”

I picked a little paint off her whiskers, then scratched her chin and said, “What a good kitty.”

~Pam Tallman

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