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“A cat is a cat is a cat,” wrote E.E. Cummings.
History would seem to agree with this distinguished poet. According to earliest records, the first sign of domestication of the cat dates back 8,000 years ago when bones of cats, mice, and humans were found buried together on the island of Cyprus. Apparently our early relatives brought both the cats and the mice to Cyprus with them: the cats on purpose, the mice perhaps as stowaways.
Once royalty in Egypt, cats have had a long and rich history.
Here are some of the stories of the coolest cats of all-time.
Whether it’s a police dog busting bad guys, a Saint Bernard rescuing skiers from the snowy Swiss Alps, or Lassie running for help when Timmy falls down the well, dogs seem to get all the hero cred.
But there have been several cats throughout history who have saved the day, and in typical cat fashion, they did it coolly, calmly, and without much fanfare.
But these heroic cats should not go unrecognized. Here are three amazing cats who went about and beyond the call of duty.
Simon, The Navy Cat
In 1948, a young crew member of the British ship HMS Amethyst named George Hickinbottom found a sickly, malnourished one-year-old cat wandering around the dockyards of Hong Kong. Feeling sympathy for the kitty, Hickinbottom smuggled the cat onboard. The secret didn’t last long, and soon Simon was a loved and revered member of the crew, catching rats and lifting sailors’ spirits.
Lieutenant Commander Bernard Skinner took a particular liking to Simon, and the cat was often by his side. So much so that when the captain’s cabin was attacked during the Yangtze Incident of the Chinese Civil War and Skinner was killed, Simon suffered shrapnel wounds as well. Simon’s wounds were treated and, much to the ship’s medical crew’s surprise, he survived and returned to his rat-killing and morale-boosting duties.
After the Yangtze Incident, Simon became a world-renowned celebrity, and was awarded the “Animal Victoria Cross,” the Dickin Medal, a Blue Cross medal, the Amethyst campaign medal, and the rank of “Able Seacat.” When he returned to the United Kingdom, however, he was subject to quarantine regulations and was sent to an animal care center. In 1949, he sadly passed away from complications of a viral infection caused by his war wounds. To this day, Simon is remembered, and the book, Simon Ships Out:How One Brave, Stray Cat Became a Worldwide Hero was written in his honor.
Tara, The Hero Cat
On May 13, 2014, a four-year-old boy named Jeremy Triantafilo was playing in front of his family’s home in Bakersfield, CA, when suddenly a Labrador and Chow mix from the neighborhood darted around the family vehicle parked in the driveway and went after the boy’s leg, dragging him off of his bicycle and onto the ground. That’s when Tara stepped in.
With laser-focused precision, Tara launched herself at the dog, knocking him aside. After chasing the assailant away, she returned to the side of Jeremy, who escaped the attack only needing 10 stitches.
Word of Tara’s heroic deed quickly spread through the neighborhood, and she became a local star — throwing out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game and serving as the first non-human grand marshal in the Bakersfield Christmas parade. She also was awarded the Blue Tiger Award — an award only awarded to military service dogs — and the Los Angeles SPCA’s Hero Dog award. She’s internet-famous too; surveillance footage documenting the whole scene set a record for the most views within two days on YouTube.
Faith, The Church Cat
In London, around the start of World War II, a stray tabby cat kept trying to get into St. Augustine’s church. After being turned away several times, the stray finally found a home when Father Henry Ross allowed the cat, now named Faith, into the church.
Faith quickly became ingrained in the church, catching mice and attending every mass. If Father Ross was conducting the service, she would lay at his feet, seemingly hanging on every word. Eventually, Faith would give birth to a single male kitten, which the church named Panda due to his black and white fur. Both kitties enjoyed church life and delighted all the parishioners and staff members.
One day, Faith kept begging Father Ross to open the basement door. Once he relented, Faith carried Panda down into the dark and dingy basement. When Father Ross retrieved him, Faith immediately took him right back down. Conceding to Faith, Father Ross moved both cats’ beds into the basement to stay. Days later, the church was bombed by Nazi Germany in an attack known as “The Blitz.” Despite much of the church being damaged, Faith and Panda survived the attack, safe and sound in the basement. Faith was awarded a PDSA medal for bravery and lived out her days at the church, eventually being buried in the churchyard.
Featured on ancient Egyptian tapestries and in the pop art of Andy Warhol, cats have been inspiring artists for thousands of years.
Throughout history, the cat has endured a precarious relationship with humanity. Sometimes feared, more often revered, cats have neither been ignored by humans nor regarded with indifference. These erratic attitudes transcend into visual culture as well. Although artists approach the representation of cats in various ways, portraying them either with detachment or obvious affection, deeper reflections of social truths seethe below the superficial imagery. The appearance of the cat in the world of art moves beyond an interesting form utilized only for decorative purposes; felines serve as semiotic icons and reflect contemporary cultural attitudes within their various manifestations.
Representations of cats in art permeate history, beginning after their domestication in ancient Egypt circa 3,000 BC. By 1,000 BC, the cat embodied Bastet, a solar goddess and daughter of Ra, the most powerful of the deities. Bastet was the musical goddess of happiness, mistress of the hearth and protector of births. This divine association gave felines an elevated place of honor in the landscape of the Egyptian social hierarchy. It was a capital crime to kill a cat in the ancient world. Cats, as holy beings, were also mummified and given sacred burials.
They’ve been winning over our hearts for generations.
Whether orange and lazy, pink and sophisticated, or tall and mischievous, famous felines from the world of entertainment have stood the test of time. These memorable characters have delighted children and adults alike, spawning award-winning comic strips, movies, television shows, books, and cartoons in the process.
Much like our own felines have done, the cool cats of Hollywood have endeared themselves to us with their uniqueness, humor, and charm. They come in all shapes and sizes, and range from villainous to heroic, yet these entertaining cats have one major attribute in common: Each boasts a larger-than-life personality while also maintaining regular feline qualities we’ve come to know and love.
Here are a few of our favorite cats of the entertainment industry (see the full list here).
The Cat in the Hat. Theodor Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss – created many popular literary characters, but perhaps the most memorable was The Cat in the Hat. This children’s book series revolves around a tall feline with a red-and white-striped hat and a red bow tie. After making a mess of the house while the children’s mother is gone, The Cat in the Hat saves the day by riding a machine that picks everything up and cleans the house.
Garfield. Arguably the most famous cartoon cat of all time, this comic book icon is syndicated worldwide in more than 2,500 publications. The orange tabby cat belonging to Jon Arbuckle loves to eat (especially if it’s lasagna) and strongly dislikes Mondays. A staple of comic strips since 1978, Garfield has also graced various television series and movies with his lovable brand of sarcasm and laziness.
Pink Panther. This title character from the opening and closing credit sequences of films within The Pink Panther series is highly-regarded for his distinctive pink coloring and catchy theme song. His immense popularity has resulted in numerous theatrical shorts and television cartoons dedicated to this iconic character. Today the Pink Panther is also associated with a number of cancer awareness organizations.
The Internet Celebrities
People enjoy social media almost as much as they adore their beloved pets. Combine the two and you get Facebook and Instagram feeds chocked full of Chiweenies with trademark overbites and crabby-faced cats converted into internet memes.
With their pets as their chief accessory, people go to great lengths attempting to achieve online stardom. Staging photos of your pet taking a “selfie” or visiting a landmark is not uncommon. And dressing your dog or cat in a different themed costume daily or establishing social media accounts for your hedgehog or bearded dragon are certainly not out of the question.
Virtual fame knows no bounds. When a dog or cat owner achieves millions of followers on Facebook or Instagram, it opens up a world of celebrity opportunities for both owner and pet. In the most notable instances of social media stardom, day jobs are quit and replaced with lifestyles featuring celebrity appearances, book deals, pet-centered product lines, and support of causes like pet rescue organizations.
Check out these pets who have become social media celebrities (and see more here).
Grumpy Cat. This Snowshoe Siamese is a pioneer of pet social media celebrities. Grumpy Cat is known for her trademark permanent grumpy-looking facial expression, which reportedly is the result of an underbite and feline dwarfism.
Lil Bub. The runt of a feral litter found within a tool shed in rural Indiana, Lil Bub has blossomed into a wide-eyed, tongue-displaying social media superstar.
Resources for the coolest cats of all-time
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