5 Feb

Artist Dora Hathazi Mendes and Her Muse, Rebeka the Cat

I’m so pleased to introduce the wonderful cat artist, Dora Hathazi Mendes. She was kind enough to share her story as part of my new “Cat as Artist’s Muse” series. I thought Kitty Curator readers would enjoy learning about the cat-artist bond, and how this relationship inspires their beautiful artwork.

Dora Hathazi Mendes paints with bright, vibrant colors, drawing inspiration from organic & geometric forms, as well as the motifs and angular contours of the Art Noveau Movement. Her cat inspired collection, Cats of Karavella, is truly unique and eye-catching.

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The Story of Rebeka 

Dora writes:

“I got a tiny black fur-ball from my mother back in 1997 as a present to cheer me up, because I was very down due to boyfriend drama. She didn’t know yet, that she was offering me not only a new little friend, but also a muse for my paintings, and an animal companion who would become a point of stability in my life for the next 16 years.”

Rebeka the kitten

At the time, Dora was living in Budapest and attending Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, studying to be a Textile Designer. She had a giant antique loom from Finland, where she would produce unique handwoven textiles, pillows, and shutters for customers.

“Rebeka loved to sit on the top of the loom, listening to the rhythmical noise, and looking down on the shuttle making zigzags back and forth.She was quite impossible with my yarn collection, as you would expect. It was a cat’s paradise!”

Rebeka with Loom

After graduating, Dora began traveling with her husband — and Rebeka too! Rebeka got her passport and chip and became a world traveler. Their first stay was in Bucharest. As Dora’s loom would have been too big to take, she thought she would begin painting again. She wondered, what should I paint?

“My cat Rebeka was just staring at me with her beautiful, enormous yellow eyes, reading my thoughts. And that’s how it started – I chose Rebeka to be the main theme for my paintings.”

Rebeka Cat Art Dora Hathazi Mendes

Before their first son was born, Dora created almost two dozen whimsical cat paintings, which formed the base of her cat inspired collection. She writes:

“If someone asked me what word best represents cats, I would say sophistication. They are mysterious, gorgeous creatures, adventurous and excellent hunters. My cat Rebeka was beautiful. Her grace and aura inspired me to create so many pieces of cat art.”

Rebeka the cat

While Dora painted, Rebeka was independent, but also affectionate. Rebeka loved to sit near her while she was painting, sometimes poking her brushes, and purring near her growing tummy.

Rebeka With Dora Hathazi Mendes

Dora hung her colorful paintings in the baby’s room for decoration.

“After our first child was born, they became good friends. She didn’t like noisy children very much before, but for my baby she even gave up her principles!”

Rebeka and baby

Rebeka accompanied Dora and her family to Poland and Portugal, but when they were going to live in Malawi for a year, they thought it would be best for her to stay with their in-laws. Although Rebeka loved to travel and was able to adapt quite well, the trip would have been too long for her, especially at her age. Dora says:

“In the end it turned out well. For her last year, she enjoyed the hospitality of my in-laws and finally became not only an indoor but an outdoor cat. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long. When we returned from Africa, it seemed she was just waiting for me to say goodbye, because very soon she passed the rainbow bridge.”

Rebeka Collage

When in the very same year, Dora became pregnant with her second child, she missed that sweet purring around her belly. She decorated the room of the new baby with her colorful cat art as a way to honor and remember Rebeka. This gave her the idea to share her cat inspired collection on the web until she had time to paint again.

“Last year I joined Fine Art America, selling prints and products, and also opened a Zazzle store called Cats Of Karavella, which is named after my present studio, Karavella Atelier, located in a little seaside city of Portugal. Based on the wonderful encouragement from cat lovers all over the world, I plan to create new colorful and whimsical paintings of these magnificent felines when my youngest goes to preschool.”

After Dora’s family settled down in Portugal, they adopted a puppy. They thought it would be nice for their boys to play outside in the fresh air with their dog. But like any cat lover, Dora says:

“I know it is just matter of time, because life is just not complete without a cat. I will never forget her, she left paw prints on my heart forever. My black angel muse, Rebeka.”


To purchase reproductions of the Cats of Karavella collection, visit her website or Zazzle shop. Her cats look beautiful as prints or on a wide variety of items such as pillows, tote bags, shirts and calendars.


Stay in touch with Dora for special promotions – and to see new paintings! She recently started a blog – and you can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Cat as Artist’s Muse! I look forward to sharing more stories of artists’ and their beloved cat muses.


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