Katy Perry has a tiny Hello Kitty tattoo on her middle finger. Cardi B has a cheetah on her hip. And Lena Dunham’s pet Sphynx is immortalized on her shoulder. But it’s not just celebrities that are getting inked with felines. Cat tattoos are surprisingly popular. That’s why we’re sharing the top cat tattoo ideas you’ll actually want to try right now.
What does a cat tattoo symbolize?
This is a tough question but we can pounce on a few answers. For one, cats are associated with power, elegance, protection, good luck, and prosperity. After all, cats have nine lives, right?
There’s also the myth of a cat always landing on its feet. And speaking of paws, the cat’s pose may also have symbolism. That’s especially true in the case of the maneki neko, the good luck cat from Japan and China. If the right paw is up, the cat brings wealth and good fortune. But if both paws are raised, the cat offers protection.
Then, in ancient Egypt, cats were sacred. But the ancient Celts thought that killing a black cat would keep evil away.
Lastly, some people have a cat tattoo simply because they admire the animal or because they want to remember a pet.
Top Cat Tattoo Ideas
Realistic cat tattoo
This gorgeous rendering of a domestic tiger cat fades in the distance as if it were emerging from the skin or popping into existence.
Watercolor cat tattoo
A simple outline with splashes of color makes for one gorgeous kitty! The design may look uncomplicated, but that’s the point. Watercolor tattoos seem carefree and colorful, but they require quite a bit of time in the chair. The shading and blending of colors have to be perfect.
Cute cat tattoo
These adorable puddy tats include a Scottish Fold – the little one that looks grumpy.
How much would a tattoo like this cost? If you want to find out, first find an artist whose work you like. Then consult with them about the price. It varies depending on size, color, and complexity. Please also factor in a tip!
Simple cat tattoo
A gorgeous little rendering like this one sizes up or down easily. You can get it small enough to fit on a finger or big enough to fill a bicep.
Just look at all those little hearts – somebody really loves cats!
Cat tattoo on a finger
You could also call this a cat’s whiskers tattoo. It’s cute and discreet. Meow!
Cat and flowers tattoo
This beautiful design uses flowers to create the cat’s body. I’m not plant-savvy enough to identify the vine. Chances are that the type of flower has a meaning that enhances the cat’s symbolism. That’s the neat thing about tattoos – each detail can represent something important.
Black cat tattoo
This Egyptian cat tattoo is drawn with bold lines that will last a lifetime. It harkens back to hieroglyphs representing cat-headed deities like Bastet and Sekhmet. A cat even represents the god Ra in The Book of the Dead.
What’s more, archaeologists have found cat cemeteries and mummified cats. Unfortunately, dogs were not given the same honor.
Panther cat tattoo
Here kitty, kitty…
Your new cat tattoo doesn’t have to be a house pet. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, tigers, you name it, are all very popular. Guys who feel too macho to ink a Siamese on their arm don’t think twice about a panther. That’s not to say that women don’t also go for the big felines.
Cheshire cat tattoo
The best-known Cheshire cat is the one from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
He gradually disappears leaving only his grin behind. With UV-reactive ink, this possibility becomes a reality!
Bitey cat tattoo
Yeowch! I used to have a cat that would bite instead of scratch because he was declawed before I got him. I still have the scars to prove it.
This lovely design looks like a woodcut or an illustration from a children’s book.
If Godzilla had been a cat instead of a reptile, they would’ve had to stop him with giant balls of yarn and catnip. A laser pointer might have been useful, too.
I find this comic book cat tattoo irresistible. It’s lively even with a limited palette. The shading is impeccable as are the highlights on the teeth and claws. The little details can turn a basic job into a masterpiece made with love.
And as anyone who’s ever had a cat knows, sometimes felines really are monsters of destruction!
Maneki Neko tattoo
Here’s the lucky cat that you’ll see in Japanese and Chinese businesses. The term literally means “beckoning cat”. That’s why the little statues have moving arms waving at you.
There are two stories that explain the maneki neko’s origin. One is that a geisha’s pet cat kept clawing at her kimono. Someone chopped off its head thinking it was possessed. The head flew and its teeth embedded in a snake that would’ve attacked the geisha. The geisha was sad and grateful and ended up with the consolation prize of a cat statue to honor her pet.
The second story involves a man sheltering under a tree during a storm. A cat beckoned to him from a temple and he followed it. Right afterward, lightning struck the tree where he’d been standing. When the cat later passed away, the temple made a statue in its honor.
How to pick the best cat tattoo idea
How do you decide which tattoo to get? Start with what you want to say with it. What’s the meaning behind the ink?
Next, decide if the tattoo is private or public. That will help you decide where to place it.
Finally, consider the cost. Don’t settle. This is artwork that will be on your skin potentially for the rest of your life. Pick a good artist and a safe studio. Save up a little longer to get the design you really want. It’s worth it when you’ll be looking at it every day.
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