Caturday felid trifecta: Andy Warhol’s cat books; man uses cheetah as a pillow; cats steal pizza

Reader Michael called my attention to the fact that Andy Warhol, in his younger days, created seven hand-illustrated books that you can buy (at a big price!) in a single volume. Two of them are described at (holding nose) Brainpickings, which reproduces the illustrations. The backstory:

When [Warjhol’s] mother, Julia Warhola — an artist herself and one of history’s unsung champions behind creative icons — found out about her son’s destitute conditions in 1952, she boarded a bus from Pittsburgh to New York and moved into Andy’s tiny apartment on East 75th Street, intent on taking care of him and helping him get by. The two shared a love of cats so strong that their squalid home was populated by a multitude of felines, all but one named Sam; the sole outlier, Julia’s most beloved companion, was named Hester. But in addition to cat-rearing, the mother-son cohabitation inevitably led to a series of creative collaborations and an adventure of self-publishing.

The books:

In 1954, Andy and Julia [Julia Warhola, his mom] released a limited-edition artist’s book ungrammatically titled 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy (public library), featuring Andy’s signature blotted-line watercolor drawings in vibrant pop-art colors and calligraphy by Julia. Oddly enough, there were only sixteen rather than twenty-five cats portrayed and Julia had accidentally missed the letter “d” from “Named,” but Andy decided to keep the title and fold the idiosyncratic wording into the already quirky yet strangely contemporary concept — not only was it a book solely about cats half a century before the cat meme of the modern web, but it was also practically an illustrated listicle.

The book was conceived as an edition of 190 signed and numbered copies, most of which Warhol gave away to friends and clients as gifts.

Here are a few illustrations:


And there was yet another cat book:

But perhaps even more intriguing was the sequel, another self-published book unambiguously titled Holy Cats by Andy Warhol’s Mother (public library) — a playful and irreverent eulogy for Julia’s beloved Hester, which she wrote and illustrated herself.

Warhol would later remark of his mother’s peculiar labor-of-love project: “It featured what she loved to draw most, angels and cats.”

The two books were eventually reproduced and published as a boxed set a few months after Warhol’s death in 1987.

Michael added his own take:

Warhol doesn’t know cat anatomy – he draws them as bags of fur. As you say yourself often, artists are poor with cats [& other animals], they don’t understand the bones, joints, muscle fixture points & motions because at school they draw people & bowls of fruit. That’s my belief anyway – that you can’t draw from the outside in – structure comes first
Here’s a man sleeping with and on a cheetah, which would be my dream. That loud purr would soothe you right to sleep!

Finally, I had no idea cats like pizza this much, as I never had any in my house when I had cats. True, pizza has cheese, but also tomato sauce and bread, which aren’t things I’d think cats would like. Nevertheless, here’s a compilation video of cats stealing pizza and holding onto it tenaciously:

h/t: Mizrob


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Currently reading Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci, so understand the comment – Warhol doesn’t know cat anatomy.

  2. Rachel
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Hey, my cat is obsessed with cake and ice cream, despite the fact that apparently cats can’t taste sweetness. I let her have my crumbs. No idea what she’s getting out of the experience! But there’s no accounting for kitty taste.

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      A quick look into the evidence for cats’ lack of sweetness detectors leaves me skeptical. It seems to rest only on them not having sweetness-detecting taste buds analogous to ours. This seems hardly definitive since taste and smell combine in very complex ways in mammals.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      My sister had a cat that liked powdered donuts. I saw it knock a donette out of my brother-in-law’s hand, and eat it.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 4, 2018 at 3:33 am | Permalink

        I saw it knock a donette out of my brother-in-law’s hand, and eat it.

        Whole universities in your area experience a mass departure of female staff.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Cat’s can’t detect the sweetness, but they do detect [& enjoy] the fat content in many sweet foods.

      • Posted March 3, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Whipped cream!

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted March 3, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

          Indeed! And we can’t discount other factors – although there’s only a handful of taste receptor types in all critters [dolphins only detecting salt apparently], there’s a vast sensory space aside from taste.

          Cats like crunchiness of kibble [like chowing down on bone?]

          I read that Cats also like soft textures too [dunno why]

          Then there’s all those smells leaking from a doughnut – presumably a few hundred [a number guess] different types of aromatic molecules

          I’m hypothesizing that cream not only has an animal fat attraction for cats, but there might also be animal scents in there for the cat to appreciate

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 4, 2018 at 5:43 am | Permalink

      Once had a cat who went crazy over gingernut biscuits.

      But re pizzas – obviously the kittehs know just how unhealthy pizza is, so they’re altruistically saving their staff from the detrimental effects of eating same.

      (Hmm, kittehs, altruistic… that explanation is starting to seem less likely to me…)


  3. nay
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Cats & Pizza: I guess that article about pets that said d*gs are omnivores that eat fruits & veggies while Cats are carnivores that only eat meat was wrong.

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Our Gus was crazy about anything leafy — baby spinach was his favorite. Greta Christina told me that her wife had a cat that was mad about red bell pepper.

      The upshot: there are no ordinary cats!

    • Posted March 3, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Yes, no ordinary cats. One of ours will eat almost anything and the other is notoriously finicky. Opposite personalities as well.

      • Christopher
        Posted March 3, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        My lard-butted moggie won’t touch any human food, well, he’ll sit on it, put his tail or butt in/on it, but never eat it. He doesn’t like canned food much either. He will only lick the gravy off the meat and leave the rest. How he got so fat being so picky, I’ll never know.

  4. glen1davidson
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Andy’s mom really doesn’t know the anatomy of angels.

    If understandably.

    Glen Davidson

  5. DrBrydon
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Did that first pizza have BBQ sauce on it?

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    7:02 onwards – the ‘cheetah pillow’ running in her sleep: it would be wonderful if we apes could one day plug directly into a cheetah dream experience.

    O:46 “Piglet” pizza pussy pgrowling over possession of a pepper… funny

  7. koseighty
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    We got two kittens some 25 or 30 years ago. I made the mistake of giving one of them some spaghetti sauce one time — thinking it would cure him of begging for it. He LOVED it!

    He became a spaghetti sauce fiend. No spaghetti, lasagna, pizza or anything similar was safe from Fuzzy.

    It was definitely the sauce he loved. He’d pull the toppings off the pizza so he could lick the sauce from the crust.

    That was long before youtube and I had no idea it was common. I always thought it odd.

  8. glen1davidson
    Posted March 3, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    True, pizza has cheese, but also tomato sauce and bread, which aren’t things I’d think cats would like.

    Tomatoes have that umami taste, actually, one of the desirable tastes in meat. Presumably that’s why we like tomato sauces with meat as well.

    Pandas probably wouldn’t like tomato sauce too much, as they purportedly lost their umami taste buds.

    Glen Davidson

  9. Posted March 5, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Michael on Warhol: that’s basically what Leonardo D. said. 😉

  10. Posted March 10, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I am chicken, but I wouldn’t get much sleep with a large, wild carnivore under my head!

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