Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Django the Art Cat

Once again a stream of water flows across the kitchen floor. Thankfully, it's not due to a leaky pipe under the sink or an overflowing dishwasher. It's just a sign that Django the Art Cat has been hard at work.

Django is a big, fat, lazy, tuxedo-clad cat who spends most of the day snoozing in ridiculous postures in various parts of the house. He's an easygoing, mellow fellow--doesn't mind if the clumsy yellow Lab licks his face, doesn't think twice about sleeping flat on his back with his paws curled over his white-cummerbund tummy, doesn't object (and, in fact, purrs happily and closes his eyes halfway in contentment) if my daughter dresses him up in hats, frocks, and underwear.

He does have one passion in life, however, and it's called a bowl of water.

For the first two years of his life, he indulged his fascination with water by playing in the ceramic water bowl shared by all three of our cats--Pebble, the tortoiseshell female with whom he grew up, and Ceilidh, the ancient calico who resented him and Pebble with equal distaste.

When we got a fountain-style waterer to encourage the elderly calico to drink more water, Django thought he'd died and gone to heaven: now here was a waterplay park most cats could only dream of! Not only could one scoop water out of the bowl with a paw, one could also remove the lid, extract the charcoal filter from the reservoir, and leave the mess on the floor for an unsuspecting human to step on early in the morning.

Then Luna the Lab arrived. About 75 pounds of thirsty dog, requiring a stainless-steel water bowl large enough to bathe two guinea pigs in. Django was quick to see the artistic possibilities offered by this enlarged canvas.

Throughout the day, he dabbles in drowning, floating, and soaking objects in the water: paper napkins, dish towels, paper towels, pipe cleaners, pompoms, wire fasteners, ribbons, receipts carelessly left on the sideboard, ponytail holders, flowers, and candy wrappers a certain person has not thrown away (you know who you are). For Django, it's a great day if an ice cube is placed in the bowl: he bats at it, gazes at it, licks it, and then reclines by the bowl, leaning his head on its rim, dozing as he fondly remembers the good old days, before the ice cube melted.

Greatest coup: pulling the dangling paper towel at the bottom of the roll so that all 9 remaining sheets came off and stuffing the entire wad into the dish. Yes, all the water was absorbed. (Bounty's the quicker-picker-upper, after all, though I doubt the manufacturers ever imagined their product would be used in this manner.) Yes, the dog was puzzled when she returned to the bowl for a drink, though I think she's learned to expect the unexpected, having found so many items floating in it in the past.

There's little we can do to contain his activities except mop up the mess (which often sends rivulets of water into the cabinets and under the bookshelf, especially if he's draped a paper towel over the bowl's edge so that it siphons water out for hours). A waterhog-type doormat placed under the bowl helps, as does a jelly-roll pan.

And hey, perhaps he's not just canoodling with toys. Perhaps Django is living up to the artistic standards set by his namesake, just in a different realm. Perhaps he's the Andres Serrano of felines. Perhaps he's actually arranging the disparate objects in the water to make a Statement. Perhaps the ephemeral nature of his work is a commentary on...something or other.
He's not sayin'.
Anyway, here's one of his latest works, which we call "Chrysanthemum." It had the added benefit of dyeing the water pink.