That's when Debi Bitz pulled her incredible girth from the floor, approached the paint dish and dipped in. She sniffed at her paw and gave me a look of total disdain. I lifted her paw to the paper to show her the possibilities of the venture. Though the other cats had departed to sleep off the remainder of the day, Debi and Mentos remained.

Perhaps, I hoped, they were up to the challenge.
Mentos, a witness to Debi's foray, proceeded to the paint dish and forcefully swiped her paw against the paper taped to the wall. I could not believe what I was seeing. And I could not believe that it was captured on film. This dip-and-swipe pattern was executed once again by Debi and twice by Mentos, who both then collapsed, exhausted by their efforts, below their work.

In a state of shock and glee, I left the house in pursuit of another double espresso. Ensconced in an overwhelmingly uncomfortable sofa at Java Road, I mused upon the mystery of the cat. I thought about how the pagan religions loved cats. About how in ancient Egypt, where cats were worshiped as gods, killing a cat was punishable by death. When a cat died in a family's home, the inhabitants of the house shaved their eyebrows and lamented loudly for hours. The cat's eyes were piously closed and the feline wound up in mummy wrappings.

I thought about the inspired humans that were well-known cat fans: Giacometti, Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Francis Picabia, Albert Einstein, Colette, Jack Kerouac, Edgar Allan Poe, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Ernest Hemingway, who had 50 of them. Guy de Maupassant and Anatole France could not write except in the presence of their cats.

Lenin and Mussolini also adored their cats. Whatever.
Returning home, caffeinated to a fare-thee-well, I was greeted by a work that surpassed the unimaginable. Unencumbered by my presence, someone had painted the bust of a cat within a cylinder, wearing a button-shaped object on its left breast. Jarring, dissonant tones slammed through the piece with a brutish clamor. The density of the image and the neurotic unorthodoxy of the portrait left me gasping for air. Something about that button shape, though. Rushing to the kitchen, I found it. It wasn't a button at all, but the "Free Calendar Offer" embellishing the cat on the label of their cans of Friskies turkey and giblets dinner. My cats had painted a can of their food.

So there it is. Cats do paint, after all. With ardor and abandon.

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