How Nicolas Cage and his love for cats inspired a new art show


Nicolas Cage promotes Tthe unbearable weight of enormous talent on April 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Susan Michals is a serious cat lady. She even started CatCon, an annual two-day event that bills itself as the largest cat-focused, pop culture event in the world.

And this year it’s all about beloved, ahem, national treasure Nicolas Cage.

It came about because Michals noticed Cage’s references to his cats in interviews, especially a sweet one he did while advertising April’s The unbearable weight of enormous talentin which he declared his adopted cat Merlin his best friend.

“Well, my best friend is a cat. And his name is Merlin,” Cage said while promoting the film. “He’s an unusual cat. He’s very affectionate. He likes contact. Sometimes he jumps in bed and hugs me, you know? I really think it’s my wife. No, it’s Merlin. And it’s just a great, kind of loving, affectionate energy that comes out of that cat. He’s a real, a real sweetheart. So that’s my best friend.”

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Michals, who “loved Nicolas Cage forever,” in part because of his eccentricities, had an idea.

“You never know what to expect from Nicolas Cage,” Michals told Yahoo Entertainment. “And to me that’s the same in a cat’s personality. Dogs, they’re trained – they love you, love you, love you, love you, love you – will do what you want. Cats can be apathetic and then love within a 10-second period. You can rub my stomach, but… not that spot.”

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It stuck.

“I thought, ‘I want to honor Nicolas Cage, honor his love for cats, honor the fact that… he does things the way he wants to, just like cats,’” explains Michals.

"Game at Art" by Vanessa Stockard (Photo: CatCon)

“Wild at Art” by Vanessa Stockard (Photo: CatCon)

Since Michals also curates the semi-regular Cat Art Show — and that’s exactly what it sounds like — which was last held in October, she knew who to call. She reached out to some of the dozens of artists there; people she knew would create something truly insane.

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The result is Uncaged: the unbearable weight of genius cat art, an art show debuting this year at CatCon on October 1-2 at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California. The seven pieces will retail for $300 to $5,000. Some of them have already been sold.

"Lil' Nicolas" by Danial Ryan (Photo: CatCon)

“Lil’ Nicolas” by Danial Ryan (Photo: CatCon)

"Merlin" by Michael Caines (Photo: Michael Caines)

“Merlin” by Michael Caines (Photo: Michael Caines)

"Catstor Troy" by Brian Hoffman (Photo: CatCon)

“Catstor Troy” by Brian Hoffman (Photo: CatCon)

One dollar from each admission ticket goes to three cat charities. Michals, who started the cat events to go beyond the crazy cat lady stereotype, says the organization has donated $330,000 to the charities. Seven hundred kittens have been adopted there.

She hasn’t contacted Cage yet, but she’s hopeful he will be there. However, she knows he may not, as he and his artist wife welcomed a baby just two weeks ago.

“I’ve crossed my fingers.”


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