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The Surreal Cat Art of Matt McCarthy

‘Feel the surreal’ with Matt McCarthy, Surreal Digital Cat Collage Artist 

Matt McCarthy can turn your cat into a ghoul for Halloween.

In June 2022, the American surrealist digital artist had his biggest show ever, called ‘Magnus Cattus’ (big cat in Latin). 

McCarthy, who has an uncanny resemblance to George Clooney (a dog person, alas) has created a feline cyclops, a cat with ears sprouting from her face like furry flower petals, and a ginger tomcat with three yawning tongues. Sleek cats in designer business suits and black leather gloves are equally unnerving, in an American Psycho kind of way.

Closer to home, in Sydney, Australia, his work was featured, surreally at the the 2022 Sydney Dog Lovers Show, where he was invited to exhibit wall size canvases of cats in the cavernous dog dominated space of Sydney Olympic Park. His cats ruled.

“I would love to come to Sydney to meet an Australian Mist cat!” he says when I mention our uniquely Australian breed which is as friendly as most human locals.

No matter how many cat pictures you look at online, Matt McCarthy will beat it.

“When I’m not writing horror film scripts with my wife, I scroll through thousands of public domain images a day looking for the perfect connection between cat and streetscape to turn into art.”

And he can immortalise your cat too. The busy artist opens five commission slots per season which are snapped up. If you are one of the lucky five, he will ask you to fill a USB with images of your cat. 

He then trawls through images of landscapes (think a white cat dwarfing the gates of Buckingham palace, or a sleek black tom peeping between Chicago’s mid-century skyscrapers) and selects the right one for your cat. 

He enlarges your moggy to the size of the giant kitten in the classic BBC Goodies episode of almost 50 years ago ‘Kitten Kong.’ For eternity, your cat can tower over Centrepoint Tower or the Eiffel Tower, with or without extra tongues, fangs or ears. You are presented with a one-off signed print to treasure.

Flamboyant surrealist Salvador Dali had a pet ocelot named Bobou (in-between the ant eater and the lobster, he also walked on leashes), so Matt McCarthy adds a surreal sheen to the ‘unoffical mascot of the internet’- the kitty. 

Matt believes “the cat is closest to us in temperament as they mirror our personalities the most closely of all domestic animals.” 

On his Etsy Australia store, he even sells cat fortune cookies, so much does he believe in their mysticism.

“I’m not saying that they can foretell the future, but through their meditative nature, purring on your lap, it’s hard to be stressed and so by being in this moment, they can help you envision what is to come.’

McCarthy’s own future also lies in writing film scripts which ‘blend gore with guffaw’ with his wife Katherine Cox. Cats have featured in these but he far prefers digitally manipulating them in 2D than directing them in 3D. 

“Directors avoid casting cats” he says with a smile. 

His own 17-year old black tom Atticus is walked on a leash daily and has made the journey from Brooklyn NYC three years ago to the suitably Gothic town of Chapel Hill. It has its own Gimghoul castle which McCarthy may use as a setting for one of his domestic horror films.

Want to spookify your feline friend? Surrealism, horror and halloween all require suspending disbelief and shifting perspective and Matt advises this for home cat photographers too.

“Just as I outsize cats so that they fill a beach, or swallow a planet, so we need to get down to their level and see life as it is for them - huge, bewildering and exciting.”

Finally, Matt McCarthy has magnified cats to their rightful positions in our lives - outsize giants of our imagination.

To learn more, please visit and you can also follow him on Facebook at  

story written by Philipa Tlaskal, photos by Mr Matt McCarthy, October 2022 for Australian Cat Lover


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