09/15/2009 AT 1:33 PM ET
It’s only fitting that a book about Andy Warhol’s cats would be inspired by something colorful. “It all started with a little blue kitty,” says James Warhola, the nephew of the legendary pop culture icon. “A Siamese cat called Hester.”
Warhola (who decided not to drop the “a” in his surname, unlike Andy) is a writer and illustrator who recently released the children’s book Uncle Andy’s Cats, which tells the story of his family road trips to Uncle Andy’s house in New York City, and gives readers a glimpse into his famous relative’s life and love of felines.
As the follow up to Warhola’s 2003 book Uncle Andy’s: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol, which tells the story of a family trip to see the pop art icon in the Big Apple, Uncle Andy’s Cats is a beautifully illustrated picture book that starts with Hester, a young kitten that Warhol acquired from actress Gloria Swanson. Warhol brought Hester home and soon paired her up with a male cat called Sam. Then the family was blessed with a hefty litter of kittens – and then another! Soon the place was bursting at the seams with felines.
“There were a lot of cats,” Warhola recalls. “I know there were at least 17 or 18.” And, since they all looked like their father, Sam, the Warhols simply named each newborn Sam. The family’s visits with uncle Andy and his “stampede” of cats have proved to be a fond memory. “Everybody enjoyed hearing about the cats,” Warhola says.
As the book entertainingly outlines how the family cats eventually took over the Warhol household, it wraps up with live-in Grandma Bubba and Warhol ultimately adopting many of them out, dwindling the litter back down to just Hester and Sam.
What would Uncle Andy think about this literary honor featuring his favorite felines? “I think he’d be pretty thrilled,” Warhola says. “The two books that I’ve done break open that curtain a little bit, to show a side of my uncle most people don’t realize [existed].”
See more books on PEOPLE Pets:
Vision of Love: Homer the Blind Cat’s Odyssey
Earless Kitten Inspires Mother and Daughter to Pen Children’s Book