The Cats-in-Residence Program is an art installation like no other — it’s an artist-built cat habitat in an art gallery, populated by cats. Real cats. Lounging, eating, sleeping, sleeping, and hoping to get adopted, all tucked into an 18-foot enclosure packed with kitty accoutrements created by artists, according to the Hartford Courant.

Artist/curator Rhonda Lieberman came up with the idea years ago after becoming involved with the plight of homeless cats in Queens. After a successful debut at White Columns in New York City, the Cats-in-Residence Program has come to Connecticut’s Real Art Ways. The show staffs volunteers to help facilitate adoptions; the rescue cats are from Connecticut Cat Connection.

We sent a reporter down there to talk to one of the cats.

Catster: You look like a nice kitty. Do you like kibble?

Cat: Hey, look around you, what do you see?

What?

Is this postmodern art? Cynical realism? Remodernism?

Er …

Interactive appropriation art? Pseudorealism? Altermodern? God knows you can’t get a solid answer out of the artiste over there.

Uh. I’m here with Catster?

Do you know what she told the Hartford Courant? “It’s an installation, it’s a performance piece, a purr-formance piece. It’s interspecies performance art for humans to enjoy. It’s a zen kitty playground.” What the hell does that even mean?

Do you like kibble?

Pardon me?

Do you like like naps?

I’m not buying that claptrap. “It’s interactive art, contextual art that is cat-friendly that the cats can use, not pictures of cats.” My head is spinning!

Do you like sunbeams?

You should ask me what I do. You should ask me what I create. You should ask me about my art.

OK. What do you do?

I do litter mandalas.

I arrange litter on the floor in the sacred forms of the universe?

Which evoke the transitional nature of metaphysical world and disappear when whatshername comes by with a broom?

Do you like kibble?

But, oh! A bunch of shelter cats in a gallery, that gets the press! That gets the money! That gets all the reporters coming around from … what’s your outfit again?

Catster. Do you like —

Never heard of it. Are you an offshoot of ARTNews? Hey, that reminds me, do you want to adopt me? I’m currently between homes.

Sorry, I have a cat.

It’s cool. Can you ask that guy over there if he wants to adopt me? I like his hat.

OK.

[Pause]

He said he has a cat.

Relational aesthetics, they call it! Emphasizing interactivity and participating in shared activities in social situations and appreciating cats as aesthetic objects in a collective experience, they say!

Sorry, I don’t understand what you’re saying.

How about somebody freaking adopt me or give me a solo show! That’s what I’m saying!

Well, the exhibit is getting a lot of attention. I’m sure the right person will come by.

You’re standing on my mandala.

I’m sorry.

Y’know, members of a college class came in here earlier, and 34 art students drew me.

They do that sometimes.

Most godawful things you’ve ever seen. One of them put me in space. Another drew me with a ram’s head. Real amateur hour, you dig?

Do you like kibble?

I’ve got an idea: Stick me in your coat and let’s go check out the video room — they’ve got The Cremaster Cycle on loop and it’s been tripping me out serious all week.

I don’t think I —

It’s cool, man. It’s art. Let me finish this mandala and I’ll meet you at the adoption booth. You got ID?

Do you like kibble?

I like chicken, amigo. Any form. Now, let’s book.

If you want to adopt this or any other of the cats, visit Real Art Ways and Connecticut Cat Connection. Photo via Real Art Ways.

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