It doesn’t take much for a cat to become popular nowadays, just as it doesn’t take much for a dog if you have access to a camera and a clear understanding of how social media works. Cats didn’t need to play the piano on YouTube to go viral in the past. Before the advent of digital history, here are some of the most well-known cats in history:
The cat that belonged to Edgar Allan Poe was called Catterina.
It’s no surprise that Edgar Allan Poe’s cat made the list. Writers and cats go together like pints of ice cream and spoons. Poe’s real cat was a tortoiseshell named Catterina, and when he wrote a scary story called “The Black Cat,” he had a tortoiseshell named Catterina.
She allegedly perched on his shoulder as he sat down to compose, most likely to provide him with story ideas. Mrs. Poe, who was dying of tuberculosis, was also cared for by Catterina, who sat next to her to keep her company until the end. Caterina is said to have died shortly after Poe. She may have been a figment of Poe’s imagination, or he could have been a figment of hers.
The cat that belonged to Ernest Hemingway, Snowball
Throughout his life, renowned author Ernest Hemingway had several cats, but his first was an all-white kitten called Snowball, who was given to him by a ship captain named Stanley Dexter. Snowball was unique in that he was polydactyl, which means he had six toes on his front paws instead of the normal five — cats with extra toes are thought to be fortunate at sea. Snowball lived a happy and healthy life in Key West, Florida.
His many descendants still live at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and many of them have extra toes, which is why he is so famous. And, in 2017, Hurricane Irma rescued all 54 of the current generation of Hemingway cats, so I think they’re lucky on land, too.
Morris, the feline proprietor of 9Lives Cat Food
Morris, perhaps the most popular advertisement cat in the world, began his career as the spokesperson for Purina’s iconic pet food after being discovered by talent scouts in Hollywood. The “finicky” orange tiger-striped cat, adopted from a shelter, first appeared in print in 1968 and was the most famous cat in the world until 1978.
When the original Morris passed away, a new Morris, who was also a rescue cat, took over as pitch-cat. Since then, there have been more Morrises to follow, not only as a beacon for pet food but also for pet adoption and rescue. Morris is currently residing in Los Angeles, California.
Koko the Gorilla was studied by All Ball, a pet.
In 1983, Koko the gorilla, the first non-human to interact in sign language, had a clear Christmas wish: she wanted a kitten. Her research team offered her a stuffed animal, but she preferred a live one. They agreed to let her adopt a kitten for her birthday in 1984 after much deliberation. Koko picked one of the kittens from a litter, a male Manx kitten with no tail, and named him All Ball.
Koko and All Ball made international headlines as she gently cared for him as if he were her own. But their relationship was short-lived; after just a year together, All Ball exited the research building and was hit by a car. Koko was distraught, signing “bad sad” over and over. Despite the fact that she finally had more kittens, she never forgot about All Ball.
The cat who went to school, Room 8
In 1952, a big gray tabby named Room 8 walked into Elysian Heights Elementary School in Southern California. He was named after his “homeroom,” and he meticulously patrolled the grounds. He attended school every day during the school year, and we believe he took a sabbatical to a bird sanctuary during summer break.
He became the school’s mascot and was well-liked, becoming the star of books, movies, and even a Look magazine fashion spread. At the age of 22, he crossed the Rainbow Bridge and was buried with honors at the renowned Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park.
The cat who sunk the Bismarck was called Sam.
This cat may not have polydactyl paws, but he sure was fortunate, even if his ships were not. His first assignment was on the Bismarck, a German battleship famous for A) being supposedly unsinkable and B) being sunk on its maiden voyage.
The British Royal Navy discovered the cat floating on pieces of a shipwreck and took it onboard, naming him Oscar (what his name was aboard the German ship is unknown). Unsinkable Sam was given to him after he sunk two more ships in the same manner. The Navy eventually wised up and gave Sam to a sailor who had gone ashore, and he hasn’t caused any more maritime disasters as far as we know.
Trim, the Australia-discovering cat
Captain Matthew Flinders took his cat with him while he was sailing around “discovering” items in the late 18th century. Trim, dressed in a tuxedo, worked on Flinders’ ship HMS Reliance and then on HMS Investigator, which mapped Australia’s entire circumference from 1801 to 1803.
Captain Flinders was captured by the French after returning to England due to a minor dispute with Napoleon, and he and Trim were imprisoned on the island of Mauritius for a period. Flinders made it out alive and was released; however, Trim went missing, and Flinders thought he had been eaten by another inmate. Flinders and his faithful companion Trim are commemorated with statues in both his English hometown and several Australian cities.
The cats who ruled the White House, Tabby and Dixie
In 1861, Secretary of State William Seward gave President Abraham Lincoln two kittens, Tabby and Dixie, that were the first official White Housepets. Tabby and Abe were fast friends, despite the fact that Tabby belonged to Lincoln’s son Tad.
During formal dinners, Lincoln allegedly fed the cats at the table, saying Dixie was smarter than his entire cabinet. When a reporter asked if the president had any hobbies, Mary Todd Lincoln answered, “Cats.”