Caturday felid trifecta: Medieval artists couldn’t paint cats; cat capsule hotels; Polish cat museum

March 14, 2020 • 9:15 am

In 2017 and 2018, with my encouragement, reader Laurie wrote two posts on her website (A Classicist Writes) called “On cats what ain’t cats” (Part I and Part Deux) detailing the atrocious representations of cats by medieval artists, as well as a theory about why these people couldn’t draw proper cats. (In the end, she concluded that they just didn’t like cats.)

Now the subject has been revised by this post from Sad and Useless (click on screenshot):

Unfortunately, the site, though reproducing a number of absurdly-drawn cats, offers no theory for why cats are depicted so much worse than were, say, humans, save for this:

It looks like the medieval painters never laid eyes on a cat.

But that’s absurd: cats were everywhere in medieval times. So instead of discussing the theories, I’ll just show some of the specimens that the site reproduces to support any theory. Here are six, and notice that some of them have clearly human faces. Didn’t these artists look at what they were painting?


From Laughing Squid we have a waggish cat owner who decided to build Japanese-style capsule hotels for her seven cats.  Click on the screenshot below to see the short article, which in its entirety reads:

Clair Luvcat, the rather accommodating human belonging to the seven beautiful felines of CreamHeroes, knew that her cats really liked plastic containers, so she went ahead and build her own version of a “capsule hotel” for kitties. The feline crew seemed to really enjoy themselves inside the jars and really didn’t want to let Claire finish construction.

Today I made a cat capsule hotel with plastic jars. Cats got crazy about it and tried to get in the hotel!

Notice that Clair doesn’t show her face in her Instagram photo—just the back of her head.

And here’s a video of the whole gang (I doubt they stayed in those jugs). Some of the cats have to be stuffed into the jars, and I’m not sure this was a good thing to do.

You’ll have to watch this on YouTube after clicking on it.

And here’s a human capsule hotel in Tokyo. If I went to Japan I’d try to stay in one of these, but I hear they can be noisy and smoky.


This article, from Mental Floss, made me realize that I missed the Cat Museum when I went to Krakow: I didn’t know it was there. But there are some notes, as well as a video below, which gives you an idea of what the tiny museum (full of kitty kitsch) is like.

From the site:

. . . Located in Kraków, Poland, the Cat Museum manages to cram roughly 1000 cat collectibles and other curiosities into a 161-square-foot space, The First News reports. The attraction consists of a vast assortment of knick-knacks inspired by the beloved pet, and inside you’ll find everything from kitty-shaped soap dispensers to cat-centric snow globes.

A couple from Ukraine opened the Cat Museum to the public in June 2019, housing a collection that has been more than a decade in the making. About 15 years ago, museum co-owner Nataliya Koshivaya received a cat figurine as a gift from a friend returning from vacation. Since then, Nataliya and her husband have been accumulating cat merchandise wherever they can find it. Their hobby grew to the point that friends knew to look for cat tchotchkes for the couple when perusing gift shops.

After nurturing the obsession for years, the husband-wife team decided to share their spoils with the world. Today, the museum is a place for feline-lovers to experience a bit of cat kitsch—and possibly pet a real-life cat. According to Nataliya, her gray cat Geisha is the museum’s “real owner.” She’s the only living animal there at the moment, but the owners are considering opening a second location with room to house more pets.


h/t: Merilee, Nicole, Ginger K.

9 thoughts on “Caturday felid trifecta: Medieval artists couldn’t paint cats; cat capsule hotels; Polish cat museum

  1. Their inability to represent cats is puzzling — but how about three-dimensional perspective? Why couldn’t they draw or paint a room that actually looked like a room? Why did the vanishing point need to be DISCOVERED in the early Renaissance?

    1. Mediaeval artists couldn’t really depict any animal properly, or so it would seem. Part of this may have been just artistic convention, and also there may have been a difference in the importance of accurate depiction. If illustrations are just decorations then accuracy doesn’t matter. Nor do things like perspective.
      T.H. White pointed out that one thing they did tend to get right were human hands, for some reason. But then we have snakes with ears and the like. Perhaps, as animals were just put on Earth for human use and enjoyment, there wasn’t any real need to show what they really look like.

  2. Didn’t these artists look at what they were painting?

    I have wondered if the medieval artists were looking at their own faces, thus allowing them a form of immortality.

  3. I think the answer is obvious. Cats have continue to evolve since Medieval times and now look quite different.

    Science to the rescue!

  4. Could it be that medieval monks were superstitious and believed if they looked a cat in the eye something terrible would happen to them (becoming separate from God?)?

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