Cat lovers and haters alike can agree that the animals seem to have a human-like intelligence about them. Unlike dogs and other pets, they seem aloof and seem to have their own inner world, perhaps where they chase shadows or balls of yarn. Videos of cats doing human-like things like petting other animals or playing piano always go viral.
While cats having an ear for music in real life are extraordinary, artists have imagined cats as musical creatures in creations that feel fitting for the intelligence of our favourite furry friends.
The Aristocats (1970)
This animated Disney film follows the lives of four cats, Duchess, Marie, Berlioz and Toulouse, in France. Their owner is a retired opera singer, and the epitome of a cat lover who leaves her fortune to her cats in her will. The cats are cultured musicians as well, who play the piano and train their voices every day. The cats even come across a jazz group, the Scat Cats, in their adventures, who perform the delightful song Everybody wants to be a Cat.
De Pianoles (1897)
Henriëtte Ronner-Knip was a Dutch-Belgian artist who started out painting dogs. One day, a cat wandered into her house, and she became intrigued by cats and they became her new favourite subjects to paint. Over her career she painted cats looking at atlases and globes, cats making music with guitars and the cats being mesmerised by jewelery. This painting titled Des Pianoles or The Piano Lesson shows the furry creatures discovering music through the piano.
Cats, the musical
This musical that debuted in 1981 tells the story of anthropomorphised cats like Macavity the mystery cat and Grizabella the glamour cat. This musical with songs composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber is based on T.S. Eliot's 1939 poetry collection, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The musical has a whimsical plot where all the different cats meet once a year to pick which cat deserves to be reborn. The different songs in the musical are the cats pitching why they are the most worthy of being chosen. The musical was also adapted into a film in 2019.