Louis Wain and his psychedelic cats are proof of the brain’s mysterious and interesting ways. Born Louis William Wain on 5 August 1860 in London, Wain belongs to the list of the most brilliant cat artists of all time. He is known for being rather obsessed about cats, the most frequent subject of his artworks – from the time he was a kid up until his descent into schizophrenia and leading up to his death. However, obsession might be too strong a word; what might be more apt is reverence. At the age of 23, he got married to Emily, his sisters’ governess, who was ten years older than he was. During their marriage, Emily got sick with breast cancer and she sought refuge from their pet Peter, a rescue cat that they found on the streets in the middle of the cold season. He taught the cat different tricks, and his wife was amused and comforted. The cat made it to his drawings – along with other cats that were a product of his imagination. Emily convinced him to publish his artworks, and he did so to celebrate her life, short as it was – losing to breast cancer.
The art world couldn’t get enough of Wain’s cats. They were found on postcards, calendars, newspapers, magazines, comic strips, and children’s books. Animal charities worked with him to further their causes. His early cats were cute, silly cats doing human things or engaged in human situations. The cats evolved into anthropomorphic cats, standing on their hind legs and with apparent human-like expressions on their faces. Later in his life, these felines evolved even further into psychedelic portraits with expressions that appeared to be angry, dejected, and menacing. Although his later works were a huge deviation from his early artworks, they were still a product of brilliance that was a Wain trademark.