Karen Belz
Updated Jun 09, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

Do you think the Mona Lisa might have a better chance of smiling if she was in the presence of a cute ginger cat? Probably not – but since cats have proven to rule the internet, it’s only fair for us to assume they’d probably put a brand new spin on some classic paintings as well.

Russian artist Svetlana Petrova used her kitty, Zarathustra, as an inspiration. After Svetlana’s mother passed away in 2008, she suffered from depression and found herself with a new roommate — Zarathustra — who originally belonged to her Mom. After a friend of hers encouraged her to try something new to help her feel better, she figured the cat would be an excellent muse. Thus, classic cat art was born.

While it was originally a gag that Svetlana shared with her friends, the internet took note of her feline-inspired new masterpieces, and her work went viral. Svetlana embraced the newfound attention, and started up a show entitled “Russian Extremes—From Icons to I-Cats” that premiered at a British gallery this month.

And trust me – Svetlana puts a lot of thought into every piece, examining Zarathustra’s poses and figuring out how he’d add new life to every image. “I see his pose and imagine what painting he can enter,” she said. “Like with the Mona Lisa—in the original photo, Zarathustra was really sinking in my hands on my lap and sliding because he’s too big—it makes Mona Lisa look like a modern girl who’s taking a selfie with her cat.”

Zarathustra has become quite the internet sensation, having his own Facebook fan site and even developing a bit of a diva attitude. “We have special photo sessions with a professional photographer and a team who entertain Zarathustra,” Svetlana said. “But sometimes he’s not in the mood and I have to wait months until he agrees to make the right face.” I guess we’re all allowed to have an off day every once in awhile, right?

This entire project is actually incredibly inspiring for reasons that aren’t related to cats at all. It’s such a relief that Svetlana found a way to rebound after such a tragic loss, and use her own personal creativity as a vessel for healing. Art can be such an important tool, for both creators and viewers — and it’s so amazing that such a young talent was able to use her skill to find a way to laugh again, while entertaining others. Sometimes, genuine ideas come when you least expect them, and when you truly need them the most.

I can’t wait to see what paintings Zarathustra is planning on crashing in the future. Keep up the amazing work, Svetlana!

Image Credit: Svetlana Petrova/ FatCatArt (fatcatart.ru)