June is the Humane Society’s Adopt-A-Cat Month and what better way to celebrate than to take a look at some of the world’s most famous felines. Actually, there is one much better way to celebrate: if you have room in your home, why not open your heart up to a new kitty this year? Ok, enough with the preaching, on to the internet’s favorite pastime (outside of “adult” things) –kitties!
Kittens In the News:
You’ve Gotta Have Faith
Throughout the centuries, famous animals have gotten headlines and attracted attention for heroic deeds and fascinating behaviors. Perhaps one of the earliest cats to garner this sort of worldwide attention was Faith, The Church Cat. Faith was adopted by the parishioners of a London church in 1936. In 1940, she gave birth to a single kitten. In early September of that year, she started insisting on being let into the church basement and then she carried her kitten downstairs. The kitten was retrieved twice by Father Ross, but each time she brought him back downstairs. The next day, German air raids began to fall on London and the entire church was destroyed. When Father Ross discovered the church in ruins, he heard a faint meowing and discovered Faith and her kitten were safe under the rubble in the basement. He managed to grab the two cats and get out of the building just before the roof collapsed.
Faith was nominated for a Dinkin Medal but was determined ineligible because she was a civilian, but she instead received a special medal for bravery. The Archbishop of Canterbury even made a guest appearance at the medal ceremony.
Simon Says Keep Your Chin Up
Speaking of cats with military honors, let’s not forget Simon, a ship cat on the HMS Amethyst, who was in the business of catching rats. When the ship was attacked in 1947, Simon was wounded and wasn’t discovered for four days. The ship’s doctor nursed his wounds and soon the kitty was back to catching rats and he now had a new duty of keeping injured sailors company. He was presented with a campaign ribbon when they reached port and it was announced that he would receive a Dicken Medal for animal gallantry, but he passed away in quarantine in England before the medal ceremony took place. Even in his death though, Simon was honored. He was buried in a special casket and given full naval honors.
Classroom Kitties Need Love Too
Of course, a cat need not be in the military or involved with a war to be worshiped by the masses. Room 8 was a cat who showed up at Elysian Heights Elementary School in Los Angeles in 1952 and decided to spend the rest of his life there. Not surprisingly, given his name, his favorite classroom was Room 8. Over the summers he would disappear, but he always managed to reappear when class began again. Eventually the television news crews took notice and Room 8 became the most famous kitty in L.A. Throughout his life he received more than 100,000 fan letters, up to 100 in one day.
Sock It To Me Mr. Socks
Anyone who remembers the Clinton administration is sure to remember Socks, the First Cat. While not the wildest pet to be owned by a president, there was something about Socks that drove the media crazy. They stalked him, even to the point where Clinton eventually had to tell them to leave the kitty alone. He went on his own publicity tours to nursing homes and schools. Later, he became the star of a Murphy Brown plot and the inspiration for a children’s book. Nintendo made a video game about him, but it was never released. After Buddy was adopted though, Sock’s position seemed to falter in the Clinton household. The two pets never got along and eventually Socks was instead adopted by one of the president’s secretaries.
The Grim Reaper Cat
Perhaps the biggest cat-related news story in the last decade though was Oscar, the cat who could predict patient’s deaths. He lived in a nursing home and had an uncanny ability to recognize who was going to die next. When Oscar curled up with someone in the home, they almost always died in the next four hours. He correctly identified over 50 deaths before they occurred. While the media and public seemed to be disturbed by the idea, the staff of the hospice feel that he actually helps calm those who are passing on and provides a remarkable connection between patients, their families, and the staff.
Working Hard For The Money:
One of the Most Powerful Females in Japan
Tama is perhaps my favorite cat on this list, you may recall seeing this lovely station master before, but you may not know that she is credited with saving the Wakayama Electric Railway from bankruptcy and she is now the only female manager in the entire company. She’s even an honorary knight in Japan. Of course, all Tama really did was hang out at the station and look cute, which got her the position of station master, which brought in 1.1 billion Yen to the local economy thanks to tourist visits. But hey, it still takes talent to bring in that kind of money just based on your looks.
Wendy the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Service Cat
Sure plenty of people have service dogs, but when was the last time you saw a service cat? Wendy is a service cat who helps Jeff Ward cope with his post-traumatic stress disorder. The kitty acts as a social buffer to help soothe his anxiety in social disorders. While a lot of our readers seemed to have an issue with a man needing a cat to get through the day, I think Wendy’s fascinating if for no other reason than getting a cat to walk around with you on a leash is pretty impressive. On a sad note, a few months after Wendy made national news, she was attacked by an unknown assailant who broke her pelvic bones. Luckily, she survived the attack and donors covered the cost of the surgery.
Morris The Cat Was Mighty Lucky
Morris is one of the best animals for a feature in Adopt-A-Cat month, as he was one of only a few actually picked up from an animal shelter. He was discovered by Bob Martwick in a Chicago animal shelter and was on the list for euthanasia because he had a torn eyelid from a fight before he came into the pound. Martwick adopted him and named him “Lucky.” A while later, he found Nine Lives was looking for a cat representative and he sent Lucky into the boardroom alone. The cat jumped onto the table, head-butted the art director and then sat back and watched him. He was immediately hired and started spending his remaining years in first-class flights and five-star hotels. YouTube link
There are probably thousands of cat internet stars these days, but Chase may be the most inspirational of all of them. After a tragic accident left chase without a nose, cheek skin or eyelids, she required a lot of daily maintenance including daily eye drops. The cat is not in pain, but her face is quite a shock to many people. Rather than keep her away from the public though, her owner has opted to use her as an inspirational icon to accident victims everywhere through the wonderful blog, Daily Tails of Chase. She also works as a therapy cat for Paws For Friendship, where she visits hospitals and schools to educate and inspire about disabilities. Chase teaches people that it's ok to look a little different and that you can go through something horrible and still live a wonderful life. The picture used above was by artist Namowal, who is a fan of Chase. Be warned if you click the link to Chase’s site, her appearance is rather disturbing for many sensitive viewers.
Keyboard Cat Strikes a Chord
In 1984, Charlie Schmidt shot a video of his cat, “Fatso,” playing piano with the help of someone grabbing him under the belly, their arm was covered up by a shirt. In more recent years, he uploaded the video with some music added, with the title, “Cool Cat.” Then someone put up a video entitled “Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat,” (I can't track down the original video) where the cat played vaudeville style after someone goofed up bad on another video. That’s when Keyboard Cat quickly became one of the biggest memes on YouTube, as seen above.
Soon enough, the video garnered national attention and was seen on G4’s “Attack of the Show” and “The Colbert Report.” More recently Charlie Schmidt made a video with his new cat, titled, “Keyboard Cat Reincarnated.” While the video wasn’t as successful as the original keyboard cat videos, it still made its rounds on the blogosphere, including Neatorama.
Making Music With Nora
Keyboard cat might be a little better known, but he can’t actually play the piano. Nora can. Nora was a shelter cat who was adopted by a couple who taught piano lessons. She was always interested in the piano, but one day her owners came in the room, shocked to see the cat hitting the keys one at a time. When the cat started playing in front of students, the kids started photographing her and when someone took a YouTube video and posted it online, Nora became a star overnight. She now has a series of YouTube videos and her own website.
R.I.P. Commuter Cat
Casper, better known as Commuter Cat, was famous for lining up to ride a bus, boarding the vehicle and then riding a few stops down and exiting near a local fish and chips shop. Unfortunately, he recently passed away at the beginning of this year when he was struck by a hit and run driver. Before that though, he spent a four year stint riding the Number 3. His owner said that she didn’t believe tales of his adventures at first, but when she saw the proof, she guessed he must have just followed all the people who board the bus at a stop just outside their home.
The Box-Loving Sensation Sweeping the Nation
Maru became famous for loving to climb in boxes, but his video channel on YouTube has expanded to show him playing with a variety of objects. While it seems strange that a playful kitty would be enough to develop a fan following, it is very true in his case, as he has received over 50 million times and his YouTube channel is now the ninth most popular in all of Japan. He even had a book published in his home country in 2009. Video link
Kitty YouTube Videos:
While these cat video stars may not be famous enough to be known by name, let’s never forget these fabulous felines and their 15 minutes of fame.
You’ve probably noticed that I didn’t include any fat cats, but that’s purely because Alex covered the issue so well in his Top 15 Amazingly Fat Cats post. If you’ve never read this one, you’ve gotta give it a view. Now I know there’s probably hundreds more cats that are arguably just as famous and thousands more who deserve to be (I even had to cut out a few or this post would have taken up the whole front page), so share! Who is your favorite cat online or off?