Animals make powerful symbols for we humans. This takes the form of mythological creatures, sports mascots, and national icons. For several of us at Catster, this has taken the form of cat tattoos. Some are memorials to cats we’ve loved and lost, others are tributes to those still living, while others represent literary, artistic, or spiritual forces. Here are six images of our inkworks and what inspired them, starting with my own.
Associate Editor, Catster and Dogster
Felix the Cat was an ideal hero for me as a little kid because I was hopelessly obsessed with cats. I got my first cat at age 6, but even before that, I drew cats, read books about cats, visited other people’s cats often — I even claimed to be a cat. Felix was a great role model. He was wily, curious, and always happy. Whether facing the smallest quagmire or the meanest bad guy on the planet, he came out on top because of his bag of tricks.
At age 16, a girlfriend gave me a small black-and-white pinback badge containing Felix’s smiling face. I still have it. At age 28, when I considered my first tattoo, Felix was a natural choice. If I had to wear anything the rest of my life, I reasoned, Felix would be it because I’d already worn him for more than a decade. One afternoon, on a whim, I walked into the first tattoo shop I could find in Portland, Oregon, and had Felix tattooed on my right shoulder by a woman called Mad Marcii. Before returning home that evening, I called my girlfriend and told her I had a surprise for her.
“Did you get another cat?” she asked hopefully.
“Uh, sort of,” I replied.
I’d been toying with the idea of getting a small paw print on the inside of my wrist for a while. I love animals, and I thought it was a cute place to show that off. After months of just thinking about it, there came a day that made me just do it.
It wasn’t a cat of my own or even one I knew, but one whose picture was being shared on Facebook. For some reason, that cat got to me, and the miracle that unfolded by him being saved really struck a chord. I love rescue and try to help whenever I can, and that cat made it extra clear.
I told myself I was getting this paw print the very next day, not only to show off my love of animals, but also to remind myself every time I looked at it what is important in life. It’s a constant reminder that I want to do more to help save more animals, that I can do more, and that I will do more.
That’s the story of my paw print. It’s not just on my wrist, it’s in my heart. :)
Editor-in-Chief, Catster and Dogster
I will be the first to admit that my body is slowly but surely turning into a zoo of ink — with four sighthound tats (two Greyhounds, two Italian Greyhounds), an owl, a rabbit, and a grinning Cheshire Cat recently joining the collection. Maybe a petting zoo is a more accurate description.
When I decided to dedicate my left arm to all things Lewis Carroll, I knew I had to have two things: a queen and a cat. And because I am the only catless Catster editor, it seemed a good way to represent. I didn’t get to see my artist’s sketch until I showed up at her studio in Manhattan, but I was thrilled with the classic lines she’d chosen for my cat. Sometimes, I give him a chin scratch when no one is looking.
Managing Editor, Catster and Dogster
I’m still tattoo-free, not from fear of pain but from terminal uncertainty. (Not to mention the fact that I’ll never become a successful international spy if I have any permanent identifying marks.) I love George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, but I fear I’d spend too much time explaining who he was if he were inked on my arm.
So when one of my cats, Ambrose Hoffman, decided to use me as a launching pad to get on top of the refrigerator, I acquired a temporary train-track tattoo on the back of my neck. I guess he autographed me.
Video Production Specialist, SAY Media (Catster’s pawrent company)
A lot of the people who see this tattoo ask whether it’s a memorial piece. It’s not — my cat Wellington is very much alive and well. It’s a celebration piece — Wellington is a huge part of my life and an even bigger part of my relationship with my amazing fiancee, Jill. The tattoo is a symbol of our happiness, and every time I look at it, I smile.
Our second cat, Beef, is jealous — his tattoo is coming soon. (Read more about Eliot at "Get to Know a Cat Guy: Eliot Even Writes Songs About His Cats.")
News Editor, Catster
I got this tattoo just last week. It’s a tribute to two of my cats, Sin├®ad O’Kitty (1996-2006) and Dahlia P. Kittenface (2006-2012), who taught me about opening my heart — which is why they’re seated on either side of the symbol for the heart chakra.
This tattoo was done by Jennifer Moore at Sanctuary Tattoo in Portland, Maine. I’ll be writing more about the process of getting my tattoo soon.