In the 1950s, Warhol lived with several dozen cats and his mother, Julia, in a New York apartment. In 1954, he privately published a limited edition artist's book of hand-coloured lithographs called 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy. That is indeed a typo in the book title but who cared when New York was about to be turned on its head by modern art. To mess with your mind even more, there are only 16 cats called Sam in the book, which is filled with vibrant colours and calligraphy by his mother.
At this time in his life, Warhol - who died in 1987 - was working as an impoverished freelance children's book illustrator. When his mother learned about Andy's dire situation, she moved from Pittsburgh to New York in order to help her son. 25 Cats was one of their projects. Original editions of the book are almost impossible to find but a small number of copies from a 1987 Random House reprint are available. Prices start at around £60.
The artist's collection of felines began with Hester but Warhol worried that Hester would be lonely. Sam arrived and, in no time at all, there was a colony of 25 cats in the apartment. Warhol's nephew, James Warhola wrote a book about the whole thing called Uncle Andy's Cats.
A small number of offset lithographs from plates removed from an original copy of 25 Cats are available from London's Peter Harrington Rare Books via AbeBooks.
Warhol and his mother also privately published a second cat book, Holy Cats, which tells the story of Hester's adventures in heaven.
Warhol wasn't the only artist who loved cats. Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Frida Kahlo were in the same pea green boat. We recommend reading Artists and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi - a book that gathers photographs of 50 famous artists with their beloved feline friends. There's Dali's pet ocelot Babou, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's menagerie of cats including Salt and Pepper.
12 pieces of essential art by Andy Warhol
Five essential books written by Andy Warhol
What Warhol left behind?
Who was Andy Warhol?
His parents came from Slovakia. Born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, he was a visual artist who was a leading figure in the Pop Art movement. He started as a commercial illustrator and worked in book publishing, before becoming an independent creative artist. His mediums included drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music. His studio in New York was called The Factory and it attracted numerous celebrities and free thinkers.
The highest price paid for a Warhol was £84 million for a painting called Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), which depicts a body in mangled wreckage. To see the best collection of Warhol art and materials, head to Pittsburgh, his hometown, which has the Andy Warhol Museum. Pop Art mixed fine art with popular culture so advertising and commercial imagery was embraced by pioneering artists who applied color and radically different contexts to simple images intended to sell products. The most famous Warhol Pop Art work is the Campbell's Soup Can.
Warhol died in New York on February 22, 1987. He had transcended art by this time and had simply become one of the most famous people on the planet.