The Most Awesome Cats in Art History

Everyone knows that cats make up a vast part of the non-porn Internet, inspiring meme after meme, speaking their own language, and even prompting the launch of a new film festival. Meow, man, meow. But it’s not only our daily visual culture that is constantly bombarded with the purry beasts, they’re all over the art world — and we’re not just talking about the sixty-five rehabilitated cat “guards” living the high life at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg! Follow your fearless feline overlords’ adventures through art history in our slideshow of select highlights.

Being a cat in Ancient Egypt was pretty boss, what with being a holy creature and all. At some point the image of the lion-headed patron Goddess Bastet downgraded into something closer to a domestic puss, but one would still get in a lot of trouble for accidentally killing a kitty. Like, executed. Aside from all the worshiping, pampering, and the occasional mummifying, the cult of cat produced many an art artifact, like this Chatte couchée avec son chaton circa 664 BC – 332 BC, now sitting at the Louvre. It’s frozen in the pose of “Yeah, that’s what’s up.”