Famous Cat Lovers in History
Stealthy And Self-Aware Gods In Fur Coats
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
There's No Such Thing As "Just A Cat"Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cats: for them or against them?
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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
- 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
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
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."
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
"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
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
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
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?
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
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.
Cats Know That We Need Them
For these men and women of history -- these cat dudes and cat ladies -- feline friends have served their purpose with distinction. Cats have been their editorial assistants and muses. They have been companions to those who were isolated from larger society by infirmity, geographical distance, or other walls that separated.
Cats have motivated inventions and have softened even the hardest of hearts. They have comforted the grief-stricken, continued legacies, and provided insight into the essence of human nature.
Let the detractors say what they will. Cats resonate quiet confidence because they know that we need them. Sometimes we humans need someone to simply sit and listen or to enjoy silence together as ideas percolate. Cats are remarkably good at that. Humans? Not necessarily. (And I've never known one to spill a secret.)
Cat Welcomes Soldier Home After Deployment
Suggested Reading On Cats
- Lessons Learned From Cats: How to Live Your Best Life
Cats can impart lessons about emotional wellbeing, motivation, and health and hygiene. They may have nine lives, but they can teach you about how to get the most out of the one life you have.
- Cat Haters: Famous People In History Who Disliked Cats
Felines are independent, self-assured, and must be persuaded. Some of history's most vile dictators hated them. Other cat haters included surprising historical figures. Will Karma settle cats' score?
- Go Ahead, Kiss Your Pet: 7 Things Dirtier Than Kitty's Mouth
So what if your cat uses its tongue as a washcloth? A little kiss won't kill you. Besides, you're already doing some pretty gross things in your everyday life. Justify your smooching with this list.
1Wikipedia. "Florence Nightingale." Last modified November 28, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Nightingale.
2Shiller, Joy. "Florence Nightingale: Cats." Country Joe McDonald. Last modified 2003. http://www.countryjoe.com/nightingale/cats.htm.
3"Bronte Sisters." Accessed December 1, 2013. http://brontesisters.ru/writings/essay/the-cat.
4Encyclopedia.com. "Vicomte Victor Marie Hugo." Last modified 2005. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Vicomte_Victor_Marie_Hugo.aspx.
5Bartleby.com. "Chapter Twelve. Literary Men Who Have Loved Cats. Van Vechten, Carl. 1922. The Tiger in the House." Accessed December 1, 2013. http://bartelby.org/234/12.html.
6Wikipedia. "Dora Maar au Chat." Last modified July 22, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_Maar_au_Chat.
7LiveScience. "Isaac Newton Biography." Last modified May 14, 2012. http://www.livescience.com/20296-isaac-newton.html.
8Lamb, Robert, and Tristin Hopper. "Top 10 Isaac Newton Inventions." HowStuffWorks. Accessed December 1, 2013. http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/famous-inventors/5-isaac-newton-inventions.htm#page=11.
9Mark Twain quotations. "Cats." Accessed December 1, 2013. http://www.twainquotes.com/Cats.html.
10Paws On Your Heart. "Marie Antoinette and the Maine Coon Cat Breed." Last modified May, 2013. http://pawsonyourheart.com/famous-friday-marie-antoinette-and-the-maine-coon-cat/.
11Titillating Tidbits About the Life and Times of Marie Antoinette. "Marie Antoinette's Flaws." Last modified January 2, 2012. http://leahmariebrownhistoricals.blogspot.com/2012/01/marie-antoinettes-flaws.html.
12Smithsonian magazine. "Ernest Hemingway Taught One of His Many, Many Cats to Drink Whisky." Last modified September 25, 2013. http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2013/09/ernest-hemingway-taught-one-of-his-many-many-cats-to-drink-whisky/.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 FlourishAnyway