Sometimes you come across a photobook that disrupts all expectations. I picked up The Tattooed Cat in a downtown Los Angeles book store, late last year. It’s written by Steven Wood with photographs by Dawn Mamikunian. It was published in 1993.

Mamikunian now makes her living as a portrait and wedding photographer and videographer. She’s still dealing with love except now it’s between two humans and not a man and his many cats.

The book is about Chas Taylor and the photographs follow him to the Ace Tattoo parlour where he is routinely inked with portraits of cats – mostly his own. There’s also touching scenes of domestic life – naps, feeding, cohabitation and the like.

What’s fascinating about the book is that the B&W images play with depth to the point that Chas tattoos and the limbs of his felines merge, sometimes indistinguishably. I can imagine this is the intent of both Chas and of the photographer too.

Here’s Wayne, the cat in our house, interacting with the book …

… and interacting with the camera-strap.

By the way, did you hear about August’s Internet Cat Video Film Festival being hosted at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis?

With hindsight it is easy to say that The Tattooed Cat is an analogue precursor to LOLCATS and Youtube viral hits of cats doing the “craziest things“.

The Tattooed Cat predates the Internet’s (our?) obsession with cuteness, only it nails it down to one man and his story. The Tattooed Cat is a really bizarre look at an unorthodox approach to pet-ownership. It’s a pretty modest gesture too. I’ve never seen anything like it and so it stays in the memory.


Footnote: You should know that Cat videos will soon replace online advertising in squeezing the dollars out of your pockets!