Cat and Mouse, first half 18th century

Not on Viewexpand_more

The Japanese have long delighted in the idea of animals parodying human actions. In this painting, the cat daintily offers a hot pepper with his chopsticks, knowing that it will make the foolish mouse gulp his sake. Oblivious of danger, the mouse tips the red and black cup to his lips. In the foreground stands a double gourd, used to decant the strong rice wine that is the cause of the mouse's reckless abandon and, ultimately, the cat's good fortune. The inscriptions reinforce the moralistic theme of the work: disaster awaits those who forget themselves and drink too much:

More than just deceived, [the mouse]
gleefully dances, and then is caught

The mind that does not heed danger
causes the body to be caught

Unwittingly befriended by the cat
who plies him with sake
the mouse drinks, slurp, slurp

Those who imitate the sages' teachings
will eventually ruin others' lives.

Cat and Mouse
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.