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Famous Cat Lovers in History

With a Ph.D. in psychology and a passion for animals, FlourishAnyway knows animals can teach us more about living healthy, fulfilling lives.

Stealthy And Self-Aware Gods In Fur Coats

Cats:  You're either with them or against them.  I am clearly with them.  Stand with us.

Cats: You're either with them or against them. I am clearly with them. Stand with us.

The Almighty Cat, Friend of Creative Souls

Bless the Almighty Cat. He is the chosen confidante and muse of reflective, creative souls who sashay among us the writers, inventors, philosophers, and solitaries.

One does not dare not own or dominate a cat. The Cat will simply not allow it. He turns up his leathery nose and flicks his taut whiskers at anyone who attempts to claim "alpha" status. (Silly men.)

The Cat holds his feelings close to his fluffy chest. He is underwhelmed by you, mildly bemused even. (Sniff.)

The best you can hope for is recognition as near-equals, to be accepted into his exclusive Club of One. This takes patience, persuasion, diplomacy. Are you up to the challenge?

The Cat is stingy with his approval. Independent. Aloof. But when he decides to love, the Almighty Cat laps you up, encompasses you, wholly and completely. And then you'll know why he has always been a god in a fur coat.

Laugh Out Loud Cat Poetry

Reader Poll

You're Either With Them Or Against Them

It's hard to feel neutral about cats, although quite frankly I question the moral character of those who detest any animal (except maybe snakes).

Throughout recent history, cats have found devotees among prominent men and women, particularly among creative individuals and other misunderstood souls. Cats have a special connection with writers and intellectuals, the introspective lot.

Do you find yourself among them, as I do?

Are You A Cat Purrson?

So what will it be?  Are you for them?  Are YOU a cat purrson?

So what will it be? Are you for them? Are YOU a cat purrson?

History's Famous Cat Dudes and Cat Ladies

Here are a few of the famous men and women who have found companionship and inspiration in cats. They are some of history's Cat Dudes and Cat Ladies.

Florence Nightingale: Founder of Modern Nursing and Model Cat Lady

Oil Portrait of Florence Nightingale (1873), who was the founder of modern nursing and one heck of a cat lady.  Go Flo!

Oil Portrait of Florence Nightingale (1873), who was the founder of modern nursing and one heck of a cat lady. Go Flo!

Florence Nightingale: Ministering Angel and Cat Lady

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a prolific British writer of plainspoken medical literature. Most notably, Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing. She was regarded as a ministering angel to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, a conflict with Russia.

Nightingale rebuffed suitors in favor of establishing her nursing career, later becoming a pioneer in her field. Although she maintained friendships with powerful men, many of Nightingale's relationships with females were difficult.1 Nightingale loved the company of her cats, however.

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The founder of modern nursing owned upwards of 60 felines during her lifetime. Disabled from brucellosis and depression, she wrote in the close company of her cats and arranged for them to have specially prepared meals and exacting care.2 Her manuscripts bear the evidence of their editorial assistance their inky paw prints.

Nightingale was famously credited to have remarked that cats possess more sympathy and feeling than human beings.

cat-ladies-and-dudes-famous-women-and-men-in-history-and-the-love-of-cats

Anne, Emily & Charlotte Brontë: Writers and Cat Ladies

The Brontë sisters, Anne, Emily and Charlotte, were nineteenth century poets and novelists, the daughters of a poor Irish clergyman. While still children, the young Brontë sisters and their brother were left alone in the world when their parents and older siblings died.

They attended horrid boarding schools and relied on their vivid imaginations for survival. The siblings eventually returned home to the safety of one another and an isolated existence which included the cats they loved.

The literary Brontë family built themselves a reclusive life in the countryside of Victorian England devoted to their writing. Their collective works included Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Emily Brontë in particular was painfully shy and solitary. She avoided contact with people outside of the family home. In an 1842 essay, Emily perfectly captured the essence of cats:

"A cat is an animal who has more human feelings than almost any other being. ... A cat, in its own interest, sometimes hides its misanthropy under the guise of amiable gentleness; instead of tearing what it desires from its master’s hand, it approaches with a caressing air, rubs its pretty little head against him, and advances a paw whose touch is soft as down.

When it has gained its end, it resumes its character ... and that artfulness in it is called hypocrisy. In ourselves, we give it another name, politeness, and he who did not use it to hide his real feelings would soon be driven from society."3

Hasn't this cat lady captured the cunning of felines so artfully?

Emily the cat lady never married, but her sisters did.

Cats Rock Each Of Their Nine Lives

“A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.” - English proverb

“A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.” - English proverb

Isaac Newton: Inventor of Calculus and the Cat Door

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was one of the most brilliant scientific thinkers of all time, responsible for a variety of discoveries, including:

  • the laws of gravity and universal motion
  • calculus
  • the anti-counterfeiting measure of putting ridges on coins
  • the reflecting telescope and
  • the cat door.7

During his studies at Cambridge University, this brilliant cat dude found that his feline companions repeatedly interrupted his studies by wanting in and out. As a solution, Newton cut two holes in the door — one for the mother cat and a smaller hole for her kittens. (He did not realize that the kittens would simply follow their mother.)8

Newton never married, had few friends outside of his cats, and in retrospect is surmised to have had Asperger's syndrome. Cats brought companionship and inspiration to the world's most gifted thinker.

Cats Have Quiet Confidence

Every cat has something remarkable about him or her.  This is my calico, Stella, who has her own set of toothbrushes on the bathroom sink.  Minty breath!  What's special about your cat?

Every cat has something remarkable about him or her. This is my calico, Stella, who has her own set of toothbrushes on the bathroom sink. Minty breath! What's special about your cat?

Favorite Cat Quotes

"Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons."

- Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist

“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

- Mark Twain, American author and humorist

“I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.”

- Mark Twain, American author and humorist

"Cats have no sense of humor, they have terribly inflated egos, and they are very touchy." - Robert A. Heinlein, American journalist

"Cats have no sense of humor, they have terribly inflated egos, and they are very touchy." - Robert A. Heinlein, American journalist

Victor Hugo Gushed About Cats In His Diary

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was a well-known French writer and dramatist whose works include Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A noted cat dude, Hugo was melancholic and egotistical.4 (You can't have everything.)

His diary was filled with references to his fondness for cats. His favorite feline had a large red ottoman in the middle of his study.5 Hugo remarked that "God made the cat so that man might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger."

"If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way." - Mark Twain, American author and humorist

"If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way." - Mark Twain, American author and humorist

Cubist Painter Pablo Picasso Was Another Cat Dude

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor. Picasso was known for co-founding the Cubist movement in art, for his love affairs, and his extreme political views.

Throughout his lifetime, the artist had cats as companions and sometimes painted or sculpted them with the human loves of his lives. Picacco's 1941 painting, Dora Maar au Cat, is one of the world's most expensive paintings. It depicts a small black kitten perched on the shoulder of his lover.6

Mark Twain: A Man Who Understood the Nature Of Cats

Mark Twain strokes a kitten (1907).  Cats were plentiful in Twain's life, and he understood them as creatures that could never be dominated.  He wrote, "There's always somebody a king has to obey ... but it ain't so with a cat."

Mark Twain strokes a kitten (1907). Cats were plentiful in Twain's life, and he understood them as creatures that could never be dominated. He wrote, "There's always somebody a king has to obey ... but it ain't so with a cat."

On the Nature of A Cat

"A cat ain't ever anybody's slave or serf or servant, and can't be — it ain't in him to be. And so, he don't have to obey anybody. He is the only creature in heaven or earth or anywhere that don't have to obey somebody or other, including the angels. ... There's always somebody a king has to obey ... but it ain't so with a cat."

— Mark Twain, "A Refuge of the Derelicts"

Awesome Cat Dude Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), better known by his pseudonym Mark Twain, was a famous American novelist and humorist. His works include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the latter of which has been heralded as the great American novel.

Twain was an abolitionist, a supporter of women's suffrage, and a man who adored cats. Twain was high strung, unpredictable, and experienced deep sadness as a result of the deaths of several close relatives.9 He was known, however, for his humor.

Twain was frequently photographed with cats and often featured them in his literature. He kept many cats at his family home in Missouri and gave them unusual names like Sour Mash, Appollinaris, Zoroaster, and Blatherskite "to practice the children in large and difficult styles of pronunciation."

The author often played pool with a cat nestled in a corner pocket while others chased the billiard balls to and fro. If a cat fell asleep on the pool table while he was playing, he would rather stop the game than move the animal. A true cat dude, Twain also trained his cats to hop up on a chair, to go to sleep, and to wake up on request.

In his unpublished novel, The Refuge of The Derelicts, Twain recognized that it is in cats' nature to bow to no one:

"A cat ain't ever anybody's slave or serf or servant, and can't be — it ain't in him to be. And so, he don't have to obey anybody. He is the only creature in heaven or earth or anywhere that don't have to obey somebody or other, including the angels. ... There's always somebody a king has to obey ... but it ain't so with a cat."

Cats Make the Whole World Brighter

Cats like Shepherd add fun and excitement to any situation.

Cats like Shepherd add fun and excitement to any situation.

Marie Antoinette: Royal Cat Lover

Ill-fated Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was the wife of France's King Louis XVI. While the people of Paris starved, she hosted lavish soirees at Versailles and outfitted herself in expensive gowns, diamonds, and slippers.10

Marie Antoinette is most often associated with her love of small dogs, however the royal family also had cats that had free reign of the palace. There were so many animals at Versailles that visitors sometimes remarked about its filth. During court gatherings, Marie Antoinette permitted her six white Turkish Angora cats to roam the tables.11

Cat Dudes and Cat Ladies Appreciate That Quiet Confidence

According to research, cats recognize their owners' voice but opt to ignore it.  Cat lovers appreciate their independence.

According to research, cats recognize their owners' voice but opt to ignore it. Cat lovers appreciate their independence.

Legend has it that during the French Revolution the Queen made plans to escape to America. She hoped to escape the same fate that her husband had met: public execution at the guillotine.

Marie Antoinette's belongings, including her cats, were therefore loaded upon a ship, which was ready to usher her to freedom. However, the royal animal lover was captured and beheaded before she could set sail.

The Queen's long-haired cats left France without her and reached the coast of Wiscasset, Maine. After mixing with the local cat population, they produced a breed of cats called the Maine Coon cat.

Today, the Maine Coon is one of the most popular breeds. It is known for its large size, intelligence, and gentle personality. Perhaps the Queen got the last laugh after all.

A Cat On the Grounds Of Versailles

In Marie Antoinette's day, cats were plentiful at Versailles.  She kept six white Angoras before her unfortunate demise.

In Marie Antoinette's day, cats were plentiful at Versailles. She kept six white Angoras before her unfortunate demise.

And So the Legend Goes: Marie Antoinette's Cats Traveled From Versailles to Maine

Do You See the Cat On Ernest Hemingway's Famous Writing Desk?

The Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida is home to his personal effects and 40-50 polydactyl cats.

The Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida is home to his personal effects and 40-50 polydactyl cats.

Ernest Hemingway: Awesome But Self-Destructive Cat Dude

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was an American author, journalist, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. He led an adventurous lifestyle crammed full of masculine pursuits: deep sea fishing, big game hunting, and bullfighting.

Hemingway was also a wartime ambulance driver and married four times. He was known for his hard drinking, tight writing style, and his love of cats. In personal letters, Hemingway wrote in detail about his cats, describing the "mass migration at feeding time" and how he trained some of them to drink milk with him while he drank whiskey.12

Hemingway Cat: Too Many Toes

Polydactyl cats, also called "Hemingway" cats, have six or more toes.  This produces a mitten effect.

Polydactyl cats, also called "Hemingway" cats, have six or more toes. This produces a mitten effect.

A ship captain gave the author a six-toed (or polydactyl) white cat named Snowball. Today, each of the 40-50 polydactyl cats that still live on the property of the Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida, are Snowball's descendants.

He named each of his cats after famous people (e.g., Dillinger, Fats), and the Museum continues the tradition. Polydactyl cats are often referred to as "Hemingway cats" in honor of the famous cat dude.

Upon receiving the Nobel Prize, Hemingway noted that "Writing, at its best, is a lonely life." Ultimately, however, not even his cats could save Hemingway from himself. Plagued by what we now consider bipolar disorder, he committed suicide with his favorite shotgun.

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not"€ - Ernest Hemingway.  This is my polydactyl cat, Spanky, who was a neighborhood stray.  He has 28 toes at last count!