This post is dedicated to my dear cat Apollo, who likes art more than your average human.
Last week my friend from high school Amanda Dominguez took me on a special tour of The Cat Doctor, a veterinary clinic in the Third Ward that caters exclusively to cats. If I had to compare The Cat Doctor to a store for humans, I would probably describe it as a "boutique" vet. As a client, you get all the same services that a regular vet would provide, but they're better, and more specialized. In this case, the service is veterinary care, and the specialty is cats.
When visiting the clinic, it is likely that you will see a few real, live cats here and there, but the truly amazing part is that you are suddenly surrounded by cat calendars, clocks, rugs, mobiles, paintings, photographs, statues, candy trays, and other assorted cat "things" you probably never knew existed. As soon as I saw all this stuff on the walls, I knew that my cat was going to get the best care possible, because he was surrounded by other people who clearly love and appreciate cats as much as I do. Here are some photographs of the murals and other art I took while I was on the tour:
Amanda told me that most of the murals on the walls of the boarding cages were painted by MIAD students who used to work at the clinic. I asked her if cats liked the murals and she said she didn't think the cats really cared about the murals either way, nor were they specifically designed with the well-being of the cats in mind. They are more appealing for cat owners who feel better knowing that their cat won't be boarded in a boring white cage for the duration of its visit.
The other art, such as the paintings of cats, has an effect on the cats whether they like it or not. On a prior visit to the clinic, I had a brief discussion with the doctor about some of the art. She remarked that she has watched cats react in strange ways to some of the statues and paintings of cats. Cats will hiss, run away, or try to interact with the images and figures. They're smart but they can't necessarily discern a real cat from an image of one, particularly with all the other cat smells in the clinic. Cats are also red/green color blind, so if an image of a cat is blue/yellow, they are more prone to react to it.
Although I love the idea that cats have reactions to art from time to time, the biggest reason I appreciate the art at the clinic is because I think it makes going to the vet (which can sometimes be traumatizing for both owner and pet) a better experience for everyone involved. Pet owners don't want to look at boring diagrams and posters about fleas while they're waiting for their pet to get treated. And maybe pets don't want to, either!
Thanks again for the tour, Amanda!