By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 16 April 2011)
Years ago I found an unusual book on sale at a local bookstore – Dancing with Cats by Burton Silver and Heather Busch. It was filled with pictures of people in various (often bizarre) outfits dancing with felines. Most of the dances appeared to be freestyle or interpretative. Curious to see if the book was still available, I did a search and found that the feline dance craze is still going strong.
The Dancing with Cats website, sponsored by The Museum of Non-Primate Art, offers feline dance classes, pre-dance exercises, cat dancing tips, music for cat dancing and a FAQ page with answers to such burning questions as “What if my cat won’t dance with me?” “Will catnip help my cat to dance?” And “Are some breeds better dancers than others?”
For those who are curious about what cat dancing looks like in action, there is an exhibition of photographs of people dancing with cats on the Museum of Non-Primate Art website. It appears to be an activity that can be enjoyed by those of all ages, genders, and tastes in clothing.
Dancing with Cats is available on Amazon.com, and it has generated many positive reviews there, for the most part because people derived such great enjoyment from laughing at it. The authors have also written an international bestseller called Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics.
Apparently felines aren’t the only animals with artistic inclinations. Dogs, horses and elephants are also being studied for their aesthetic aptitudes. So although feline art forms currently hold the dominant position in the non-primate art world, the Museum of Non-Primate Art anticipates that they will likely decline in prominence in the future.
Burton Silver and Heather Busch have since produced another book – Why Paint Cats: The Ethics of Feline Aesthetics – which explores a new art movement – cat decoration. The book asserts that some owners are using their cats as canvasses, having artists decorate their pets with nontoxic dyes.
According to the authors, cats have been painted to look like clowns, fish, butterflies, pigs, or even American flags, and one poor cat had a portrait of Charlie Chaplin painted on his backside. Cat-canvas art forms listed include Semiotic Anthropomorphism, Transmoggificationism, Retromingent Expressionism, Neo-Totemism, and Avant Funk.
Pictures from the book were circulated online, generating controversy as to whether cat painting constitutes abuse of animals. However, Snopes.com asserts that the book is purely satirical and that the hilarious pictures were doctored in Photoshop (Silver has refused to comment on the creation of the cat designs).
For more animal-related entertainment, see the Fun Animal Stuff page.