If you’re a single woman and you have a cat, you’ve probably heard the phrase “crazy cat lady” more times than you’re able to respond gracefully. Cats, though, aren’t just companions for so-called spinsters; men have been known to fancy feline pets -- think of the uber-manly Ernest Hemingway and his houseful of six-toed kitties.
Artist Sam Kalda, a cat fan himself, had this in mind when working on his new series, "Men and Cats." “Why not crazy cat men? What's so crazy about it?” he wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.
He began the series after he stumbled upon photos of Marlon Brando relaxing with a housecat. Kalda was fascinated. “Here is this guy with a macho, mercurial reputation who, in these images, is transformed by virtue of his love for cats,” he explained. Though even highly domesticated cats retain fearsome hunting skills -- any cat owner has likely received a freshly decapitated mouse or bird as tribute -- the cat’s finely drawn features and external calm don’t project boisterous masculinity.
These attributes, Kalda said, also contribute to their artistic appeal. “Cats are independent, mysterious and elegant,” he said. “They're also quite lazy, which makes them ideal subjects to draw.” A drowsing cat, watching through slitted eyes as it lies draped over a lap, practically begs to be sketched; not so a leaping, panting dog, its tail a blur of motion.
Perhaps these enigmatic, restrained qualities have drawn creatives to cats throughout the ages, from Montaigne to Karl Lagerfeld. Kalda also illustrates pensive quotes from cat fanciers that capture the particular joys of living with a cat, such as the words of Jean Cocteau: "I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul."
In his dual portraits, Kalda illustrates the petulant humor and quiet sophistication of a cat, as well as the soulfulness of a man's relationship with his four-legged friend. If you think cats are just fine or maybe even the best pets around (the latter is the correct opinion), Kalda's whimsical, vibrant images will remind you that great men agreed with you. At least about cats.
If you do not like cats, remember that Mark Twain loved cats -- and reconsider.