A popular joke posits that “The Internet is a lot like ancient Egypt: people write on walls and worship cats”. While it is quite true that cats get their fair share of attention online, propelling some to superstardom almost overnight there are plenty of examples of famous cats throughout history. The Internet might be made of cats but here’s a list of ten of our feline friends that have become famous over the ages in their own right.
10. Pangur Ban
This white cat is mentioned in an epic dark ages poem written by an Irish monk. In the poem, the monk, though to be Sedulius Scottus, one of the famous early poets of Ireland, praises the cat, called Pangur Ban in its pursuits and compares them to his own. Recently Pangur Ban has found fame as a character in the Secret of Kells, the 2010, Oscar-Nominated animation movie.
In a recent post on extinct species we recounted the tale of the Stephens Island Wren, a flightless passerine bird that was driven to extinction through the industrious actions of a single cat, the lighthouse keeper’s mouser called Tibbles. Tibbles pursued the birds incessantly and although he didn’t manage to drive them completely to extinction on his own he thinned the numbers enough to cause the species to go extinct.
Socks is a world famous cat, best known for being Bill Clinton’s second favourite white house pet. A lot of presidents had pet cats, including Bill Clinton’s successor, G.W. Bush but for some reason Socks’ reputation became blown out of proportion. A republican congressman even tried to start an investigation into misuse of White House staff and funds for answering all the fan-mail that Socks received.
7. Tuxedo Stan
Although Currently undergoing chemotherapy, this tuxedo patterned cat is still as active politically as the day he first decided to run for mayor of Halifax. Yes, this enterprising cat is also a budding politician not just a pretty face like our friend Socks above. Another aspiring politician, this time a stateside one, Hank ran for Senate in Virginia and came in third.
6. Lewis the Repeat Offender
Everybody’s heard the term Kangaroo Court but what About Cat Court? Lewis is a Connecticut cat that was placed under house arrest and, for a while under looming threat of execution for repeatedly attacking neighbours. The cat went all Goodfellas on several neighbours and prompted a restraining order being placed on him and a criminal trial against his owner. Fortunately the cat escaped the death sentence, the criminal charges were dropped after proof was brought forth that the cat had been harassed, and is now living peacefully as an Indoor cat.
5. Unsinkable Sam
‘Unsinkable’ Sam (also called Oscar) was a World War Two Cat that served on three different ships on both sides of the conflict. Initially a sailor’s pet on the Bismarck, the cat survived the sinking by climbing on a piece of driftwood and was recovered by the HMS Cossack and made ship mascot. When the Cossack exploded and sunk after being torpedoed, the cat was again recovered and taken aboard the carrier Ark Royal. When the Royal sank as well, Sam was once more rescued and ‘retired’ from active duty, spending the rest of his life as the Mascot of the Royal navy, first in Gibraltar, then in a sailor’s home in Northern Ireland.
4. Oscar the Bionic Cat
Oscar isn’t a very lucky cat. After being run over by a combine harvester the cat almost died but ended up losing both feet instead, severed between ankle and foot. His owners took the injured animal to a specialised veterinary orthopaedic surgeon who fitted Oscar with specialised running blades, a type of foot similar to what Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius uses . Oscar has grown perfectly acquainted to his new legs and can now run and jump effortlessly with them.
3. CC the Copycat
CC is the world’s first cloned cat, a calico tabby cloned from a calico with a tabby surrogate mother. Now over a decade old the world’s first cloned cat is a perfectly healthy mother and still a big attraction. Commercial pet cloning has since taken slowly off making CC a true pioneer in the field.
2. Larry, her Majesty’s Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
Perhaps the most influential cat in the world, Larry is a member of the Cabinet and the de facto chief of the 100000 cats employed by the British Government to keep mouse numbers down. More influential than most Britons, Larry has met several current and former heads of state, including Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy and maintains a strong internet presence.
1. Fred the Undercover Cat and Rusik the Sturgeon-Sniffer
These two fearless cats both assisted the police in their inquiries. Fred, the former, was a cat that was famously used in a sting operation to catch a man posing as a veterinary without any type of training. Rusik was a Russian Siamese cat who had a unique penchant for sniffing out smuggled sturgeon. He died in the line of duty after being hit by a smuggler car. Both these cats represent the very pinnacle of felinehood, serving their fellow man with honour and dignity.