World Famous Feline Followers


Pallavi Bhattacharya
If you think cats have been predominant companions of lonely old women, then you could have been mistaken. Numerous historical personalities have doted on their pet cats—they’ve been both men and women, either married or single. Here are a handful of examples of world famous people who had cats.
John Lennon: This member of The Beatles was crazy about his cats. His mother Julia, who loved cats as well, named their pet cat Elvis Presley. When Elvis gave birth to kittens, they realised that Elvis was female, yet didn’t change the name. During his boyhood, he also had cats named Tich and Sam. He went on to find a marmalade-coloured Persian cat in the snow, whom he named Tim. This cat went on to live till twenty years of age. He named one of his cats Mimi, after his favourite aunt. He adopted two kittens, which were found near his recording studio and named them Major and Minor. He called his Russian Blue cats Gertude and Alice. When he was in The Beatles, he had a cat named Jesus. The pair of black and white cats, he parented along with his second wife Yoko Ono, were named Salt and Pepper. Towards the end of his life he had cats named Sasha, Misha and Charo. He himself would buy fish for his cats.
Queen Victoria: She spent a very isolated childhood, because of her mother. She endeavoured to ward off her gnawing loneliness with dolls and animals. The queen went on to become an advocate for animal rights. Among the many pets she had were two blue Persian cats. The very fact that Charles Darwin’s research had established that Persians were one of the two cat breeds which looked different from most cats, drew the interest of the queen. Discovering various breeds of cats soon became a national pastime in Victorian England, because of her Royal Highness.
Florence Nightingale: The founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale doted on a beautiful Persian, whom she named Bismarck, who had rice pudding along with five o’clock tea. Florence was pet parent to five dozen cats in her lifetime. The hospital where she was nursing the soldiers of the Crimean War was infested with rats. Once, she accidentally squashed a nest full of baby rats by sitting on them. A soldier gifted the nurse a small yellow cat with the hope that he would control rats. When she returned from home after the war, a close friend presented her Persian cats. The cats toppled down flower vases and ink bottles. They tread over the letters she wrote with inked paws. It was rumoured that she appointed a nurse to attend to each cat and would send them to the countryside for a change of air. Florence was of the opinion that cats had more feelings and sympathy than human being.
The Bronte Sisters: English author sisters, Charlotte and Emily Brontes, endorsed the theory that all their works of literature were inspired by cats. They felt that their pet cat Tabitha was a medium to attract spirits. Emily was unable to pen a word when the cat was with Charlotte. Similarly, Charlotte faced a serious writer’s block when the cat was with Emily. When the cat died in 1843, both the sisters underwent a doldrum phase as far as creativity was concerned, which is said to have ended only when Anne brought along a basket of penguins, which were believed to be clairvoyant. Emily penned a French essay titled Le Chat (The Cat) in defense of the animal, wherein she refuted all those who thought cat a selfish creature.
Mark Twain: Authors seem to muse on cats. Mark Twain said, “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. When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” Like the Bronte sisters, Twain’s cat also stimulated his grey cells to help him write better. When he played billiards, he popped his favourite cat in his side pocket. When the feline cutely pawed the balls, he was amused. Though he was a melancholic and an anxious man, he went on to pen novels which went on to make the world laugh, his cats often put him into the good mood which helped him write them.
Charles Dickens: This prolific writer, who loved the company of cats, went on to say, “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” His pet cats seemed to miss his attention when he was busy penning novels. To seek his attention, they would extinguish the flame of his candle when he was writing. In 1862, he was devastated when his much loved cat Bob passed away. As a memorabilia, he stuffed Bob’s paw, which was fixed to an ivory letter opener, with the words ‘C.D., in memory of Bob, 1862’, engraved on it.
Edgar Allan Poe: His short story The Black Cat is a macabre tale which sends shivers down the spine of animal lovers. The narrator in the story superstitiously concludes that all black cats are witches in disguise. The cat’s named Pluto in the story is a reference to the Roman God of Underworld of the same name. Influenced by alcohol, the fictional narrator gauges out an eye of the cat, and finally hangs him from the tree in his garden. This gruesome story was actually inspired by Poe’s own pet black cat, whom he had fondly named Catarina. Poe, despite weaving such a ruthless tale, didn’t harm a hair on the body of the cat. The feline was adored by his family. He would curl up on the bed where Poe’s wife lay dying of tuberculosis to provide her warmth, love and comfort.
Albert Einstein: An ardent animal lover, this world famous scientist had a tom cat named Tiger, who slipped into melancholia, whenever it started raining. He affectionately told his pet who forlornly went on gazing at the rain, “I know what’s wrong, dear fellow, but I don’t know how to turn it off.” While explaining how the wire telegraph worked, he innovatively went on to refer to the cat in an attempt to explain it in simplistic terms, “You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”
Marie Antoinette: The infamous King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette permitted their doted Turkish cats to roam below the tables, when the court was in session. As the story goes, Antoinette tried to break free from the Bastille. She arranged for a ship with her prized possessions, which included her six cats as well. Though she was unable to escape by sea to America, her cats reached the shores safely. They mated with short-haired breeds out there to bring forth a new cat breed called Maine Coon.
Nostradamus: This famous seer had a cat called Grimalkin who was surrounded in mystery. The name Grimalkin literally meant an old or nefarious lady or a cat. It was a common belief during the Renaissance that Satan set wicked spirits to facilitate witches to carry on their sinful deeds. These spirits that had been believed to be taking into shapes of animals were said to materialise as black cats. Interestingly, the cat in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth was also named Grimalkin. Nostradamus and Shakespeare were born just a few months apart and both were fascinated with Grimalkin. Did Grimalkin help Nostradamus to see into the future? Well, we don’t know that. What we know for sure is that black cats being termed as vehicles of Satan, have no truth in the notion. Black cats are just cute and cuddly animals, who deserve your affection.