People have loved–and even worshipped cats–since the beginning of time. We know Cleopatra of Ancient Egypt and her love affair with cats. In fact, the term “cat eyeliner” was another thing she was famous for. But there are a number of cat lovers throughout history that you may not know. Here we will take a look at some of the most famous cat lovers throughout history. Let’s see how many you already knew!
Many of us know the 16th President of the United States for his untimely death and Gettysburg Address. But what you don’t know is that this impressive man was also a crazy cat lover! And better yet, Lincoln was the first president to bring cats to the White House.
His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was once even quoted as saying that cats were her husband’s only hobby. During his time in the White House, it was reported that Lincoln took in strays and other cats. Although he had decided to leave his dog, Fido, behind in Springfield, Illinois–sorry pup! There is a fable that he once fed a tabby cat at a state dinner. And when his wife Mary objected, he told her that: “If the gold fork was good enough for [former President James] Buchanan, I think it is good enough for my cat.”
Many of us know this iconic novelist for his contributions to the writing world. But Twain was also known to many during his time for his love of cats! It’s been rumored that Twain once housed up to 19 cats at one time. He made it apparent to many that her purrfered cats over people. (Smart man if you ask me!)
Twain was once quoted as saying: “If man could be crossed with the cat. It would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”
When it came to naming his cats, Twain took the honor most seriously and befitted them each with astute monikers. Apollinaris, Beelzebub, Blatherskite, Buffalo Bill, Satan, Sin, Sour Mash, Tammany, Zoroaster, Soapy Sal, Pestilence, and Bambino, to name a few.
And when his precious Bambino went missing one day, Twain searched high and low as any devoted cat dad would do. He even took it upon himself to put an ad out in the New York papers in search. He was hoping to increase the chances of being reunited with his beloved cat. The ads described the displaced cat as “large and intensely black”. He even offered a $5 reward for his safe return!
This one might be blatantly obvious, especially to those cat lovers who know of the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida. The story of Ernest Hemingway and his six-toed cats began with Snow White. She was a white polydactyl kitten that Hemingway received in the 1930’s. The kitten was a gift from a sea captain named Stanley Dexter.
Today somewhere between 40 and 50 polydactyl cats live at the historical landmark. And to this day, the extra-toed felines are still often referred to by many as Hemingway cats. Talk about the purrfect legacy!
To stay true to the ways of the late author, the Hemingway House Museum carries on the tradition of naming the “mitten” cats with the names of famous people.
“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” – Ernest Hemingway
Catherine the Great
This legendary ruler of Russia was a self-professed cat lover. She even took it upon herself to honor the cats of Russia with the status of “official rat catchers” during her reign.
The State Hermitage Museum of Russia, formerly the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, houses more than 3 million works of art and artifacts, spread across a vast complex of historic buildings. But what’s even more exciting is that this cat-friendly museum is home to hundreds of cats. Their well-done job is to keep the mice problem at bay on the museum grounds.
Catherine the Great of Russia (1762-1796), was the first of many to be a lover of cats in the Russian monarchy. And the Russian Blue was her purrfered breed of choice. The longest ruling female leader of Russia, she doted on her cats and treated them just like the royalty that they were. She even gifted the regal Russian Blue felines as gifts for other royals from countries far and wide. Once she delegated the working cats official titles, they were officially promoted as working cats. Complete with salaries and additional food rations for a job well done!
Many of us know the late front man of Queen for his distinct look and sound. But he was also a great lover of cats and proudly wore it like a badge of honor. Mercury even had a home in London where all of his lucky cats had their own bedroom. And he treated them much more like his own children than he did pets. While on tour, Freddie would phone home to have in-depth conversations which each of his cat kids. He’d happily want to be made aware of their daily doings too.
His love of felines is said to have begun in the 1970s when Mercury’s girlfriend Mary Austin bought them a pair of cute cats – Tom and Jerry.
Throughout his impressive musical career, Freddie even dedicated albums and much of his music to his beloved felines. It’s reported that his final days and moments were spent in the company of his cats, stroking their fur. One of his most favorite cats, a tortoiseshell named Delilah, gave him great joy in the years before his life was cut short.
Mercury spent hours with watercolors trying to paint a portrait of the tortoiseshell Delilah—and when he was dying in 1991, one of his final actions was stroking her fur.
Mercury immortalized the tortoiseshell feline in his song “Delilah”. When asked what would happen with his great fortune once he passed, he was quoted as saying that he planned to leave it all “to Mary and the cats.”
Revered by many as the founder of modern nursing, what many don’t know is that this pioneer for women in history was also a crazy cat lady! Regarding her feelings on felines, Nightingale was once quoted as saying that: “cats possess more sympathy and feeling than human beings.”
It was noted that she owned over 60 cats throughout her lifetime. She even housed as many as 17 at one given time! She took her cat ownership quite seriously, specially preparing her cats’ meals and serving them off of china plates. Of her many letters that she wrote throughout her extraordinary life, soft paw prints can be seen on the pages from her cats that stepped across the fresh ink.
For the last 2 decades of her life, Nightingale was bedridden and never left the 2nd story of her London home. Her cats gave her comfort and solace throughout this difficult end to her life. And they made the years more bearable for her as they gave her great joy and love. Before her death, she made arrangements for her devoted cats, so that they would be looked after and cared for once she passed on.
Many of us know this late screen legend for her impressive body of cinema work. But we also know her for her great love and advocacy for the four-legged kind. In 1978 she used her star power to form The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF). They are a national, nonprofit organization that serves one simple focus–to help animals and the people who love them.
According to their website, Doris knew she could do more for the homeless pet community. So she found a way to help by lending her name.
A life-long animal lover and advocate, Doris recognized that the animal welfare community in the 1970s was a sorely lacking landscape. [And] that through her own organization and celebrity status she could make a difference for the animals. When she initially founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation, Doris focused on finding homes for the too many animals that were being destroyed simply because there weren’t enough good homes. Her grassroots efforts resulted in Doris’ personally rescuing hundreds of animals over the years. In addition to fostering animals at her own home, Doris and DDPF were leasing kennel space, providing for veterinary care, and finding loving forever homes for the increasing numbers of homeless pets with the help of a dedicated staff of volunteers.
This famous artist in history may be known to many for his legendary art, but he was also a big time cat lover! Cats seemed to find their way into his heart at a young age. And over time they found their way into his art on numerous occasions.
Picasso’s first cat, a Siamese named Minou, cemented his love for the feline kind. French for “kitty”, Minou played an important role in shaping his life. Because he felt that the two were there for each other in the beginning when times were tough. When Picasso had yet to establish himself as a creative force.
We weren’t able to mention them all here, but purrhaps this would make a great series?! Some other honorable mentions include: The Bronte Sisters, Calvin Coolidge, Sir Isaac Newton, Vivien Leigh, and Louisa May Alcott. Let us know in the comments who you want to see incuded!