More on Klimt — and Cats

Lately, cats have been quite the topic around the house and around the art studio.

Isabella lounging in “her chair” after playing in the catnip.

Some of you might have heard about “Isabella” — the cat we took in, having been told by a neighbor that she was “a stray cat that lives down in the sewers.” Well, as it turned out, Isabella was not a stray catshe did not live in the sewer, and no, her name wasn’t really Isabella, but Chloe. Her rightful owner lives over on the next block. I won’t re-tell the whole story, but the owner came looking for her cat, and long story, short, Chloe/Isabella had to go back home.

The owner kept her inside for several days, but when the cat finally went out, she headed right back to our house. Once again we were confronted by a not-very-happy cat owner, and once again Chloe/Isabella had to return home.

For the last two weeks, the cat has been kept inside again. Only this morning did the owner allow her to go outside. Surprise, surprise… guess who was at our doorstep at 4:00 AM wanting in?

Meanwhile, after “losing” Isabella, my husband was… well, dare I say it? Devastated. Heart-broken. He loved Isabella/Chloe. So, I suggested we adopt a cat from one of the shelters. And thus it was that “Flower Child” came to be part of our family. We didn’t choose her name. It was her “shelter name” and we kept it. Here is her official “adoption” photo.

She came home with us two weeks ago, has settled in nicely, and yes, you might notice a strong resemblance to Isabella/Chloe. Well, you’d notice it if you saw a better picture of Chloe. Flower Child is what’s called a “dilute” calico, with lighter markings and more white than most calico cats.

Now that we have a cat that’s truly our own, Isabella/Chloe won’t be coming inside, but after a long chat with her owner a short time ago, we’ve agreed that Chloe is welcome to come and visit with us. That makes us happy, and it will keep the owner happy, too.

But while we’re happy, there was a bit of sadness recently when our daughter, Liz, lost one of her cats. I commemorated Diego with a watercolor for Liz. But, as they say, life goes on, and my life as an artist now goes on with a cat in the studio.

Flower Child enjoys being with me, so I’ve spent a bit of time “cat-proofing” the studio, keeping paints out of her path, and helping her understand that easels are not climbing towers for kitty cats. She’s checked out all the boxes and bins, and for the most part she’s content to curl up and sleep while I’m drawing and painting. I thought about writing a post on the topic of cats and art, but oh, my goodness! There is so much information out there, it would be impossible to even make a good summary. One of the things I will share is that artists tend to have cats around the studio more often than dogs. Cats, you see, are much more independent. They don’t require so much time and attention, and a cat will usually entertain itself while its artist owner is working.

Now, you might be scratching your head a bit, looking back at the title of the post, and wondering exactly where Gustav Klimt fits into this. Wonder no longer. Quite simply, he was a cat lover. He’s even been referred to as “the crazy cat lady of artists”, a title which might be partly due to his penchant for dressing in long, flowing muu-muu’s. (Under which, it is said, he wore nothing, but whether that’s true or not… well, probably so.)

One thing is certain. Klimt loved cats. In this photo, he’s seen holding Katze, one of his favorites. An art critic once recalled visiting Klimt’s studio and and being surrounded by “eight or ten mewing and purring cats.” The cats ran wild in the studio, never mind the sketches and other artwork. When questioned about it, Klimt’s reply was that “It doesn’t matter if they crumple or tear a few sheets — they piss on others, and don’t you know, that’s the best fixative.”

Yes, you read that right.

I’ve also read other versions of this tale in which it’s said that Klimt deliberately covered pages of his sketchbooks with cat urine. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. But I do know that I probably would have liked Klimt and his cats. Maybe he dressed weird, but that’s all right. Any man who will open his home — and in Klimt’s case, his studio — to his feline friends is I man I can admire.

28 Comments

  1. LOVE cats – they are the charming calmers of the heart and mind. Nobody can tell me a purring cat doesn’t calm people down. They are charmers of the human soul. But, yes, like others, I really don’t like cleaning the cat pans every day . . . ha ha

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  2. So 2 part comment… first part, I wanna be extremely judgmental and without even knowing the neighbors, say that some people just don’t deserve such awesome pets. And honestly they’re probably not as bad as I see them in my head, but there’s probably a good reason that whenever Isabel/Chloe gets out she heads straight to your door… and part 2. I don’t know anything about Klimt but I love how the artistic ones tend to also be the eccentric ones. Never afraid to really be themselves!!

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    1. Two part reply 🙂 Yes, I agree that some people aren’t as responsible as pet owners as they should be, i.e., failing to get rabies vaccinations, not licensing their pets with the city. I did point out to the neighbor that her cat had no tags. Had we not been cat lovers, we could easily have called animal control since the cat was doing a little damage to plants in the garden. We do still see Isabella/Chloe now and then — short visits — but we’re not letting her come inside. Meanwhile, Flower Child is an adorable cat, and we are very happy to have her in our family. As for Klimt, he most certainly was unafraid of what people thought. Definitely a character. I love weird people!

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      1. LOL… there’s a quote attributed to Dr. Seuss. I’m not sure if he really said it or not, but my husband and I wrote it to each other all the time… it’s about finding people with “compatible weirdness” — and that’s what we call love. Yesterday, in fact, my husband remarked that Flower Child belonged in our family because she has “compatible weirdness” to us! And then there’s the meme I saw once — two little girls whispering. One says, “Oh, she’s an artist? I thought she was just weird.” So true. Gotta love being weird, right?

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      2. Hahaha. That’s hilarious. I’ll have to look into the Dr Seuss quote. Very fitting for my wife and I, as well. I could totally believe that philosophy could come from his mind!😂

        Incredible when you get that perfect pet. You just know. Like a cosmic connection or something. And almost has a hallmark stamp of approval with the whole falling in love with a kitty that gets tragically ripped away from the family only to find the Flower Child of your dreams!!!😂😂😂🥳🥳🥳 definitely the type of ending that only happens in the made for television movies 🍿🎬🥲

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      3. LOL… it was quite an emotional experience. My husband was truly devastated when we “lost” Isabella/Chloe. I was concerned by the adoption. I knew he didn’t want “a cat” — he wanted Isabella/Chloe. My concern was that no other cat could ever take her place. But he’s very happy with Flower Child. It’s all a bit odd — or, dare I say “weird”? He’s never been a big cat lover. I guess he’s mellowed out as he’s gotten older. He has Flower Child very spoiled.

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      4. She’s adorable, for sure. It’s raining here now, so I let her put on her leash so we could sit on the porch. She does enjoy her morning outings.

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      5. Yes, she’ll go out with her leash. Sometimes we also use a cat harness. I won’t say she’s crazy about either, but she loves to sit outside, so she knows that the leash/harness is necessary. I don’t think she’d run off if we let her out alone, but for now I’m much more comfortable using the leash with her. If you want a good laugh, BTW, go to YouTube and look for “How to Put a Harness on a Cat”. There are some funny clips.

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    1. I wasn’t at all familiar with Klimt until recently. The more I learn about him, the more I love him. What a weird, wonderful man he must have been. I’ve read, too, that he was quite the womanizer, but who wouldn’t fall for a cat-loving man in a muu-muu?

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    1. Good question! The neighbor’s cat is all but living in our garage now. For some reason she’d rather sleep in the old van my husband is restoring than go home. She’s a good cat, and my husband enjoys her company, so that’s a good thing.

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