Have You Heard About These Famous Cats In History?

For thousands of years, we humans have cohabitated with cats, often sharing our homes and our hearts with feline four-legged friends. Cats have gained recognition through their unique personalities, talents, or heroic acts. Now, let’s look at just a few of the famous cats in history.

The following stories give us a taste of the flavor cats have added to our lives. They help us realize that this small animal has contributed some remarkable facts and feats to our collective history, Now the most popular pet, they demonstrate in these tales some of the reasons they are so loved.

Cats In The Ancient World

Archaeologists have found evidence that cats have lived with humans, perhaps as pets, during much of human history. However, it wasn’t until ancient Egypt that cats became an important element in human society.


There, cats played a valuable role in ancient Egyptian society. Grain, stored in silos, became the preferred spots where vermin would congregate, eating up necessary food supplies. Cats moved in to control these pests, and soon won a place in Egyptian society as sacred animals.

One could say that cats domesticated themselves, as, once they became accepted as saviors who protected Egyptian grain stores, it only took a small step for the cat to move into a home, where he would find a warm, dry, comfortable place to live.

They became associated with the goddess, Bastet, often shown as a cat or a woman with a cat’s head. The Egyptians believed that cats had a special connection to the divine world and that their presence could bring humans good luck and prosperity. In fact, it became a crime to harm a cat, and if one did so, he could expect severe punishmeht, and even death.

Seafaring Cats

A cat often accompanied sailors on ocean-going vessels, employed to assist in the destruction of the rats aboard. Some of these cats became well-known for their hunting skills as well as their ability to provide companionship and solace to crew members.

One such cat went by the name of “Trim”. This cat sailed with Captain Matthew Flinders during the 19th century. The cat accompanied Flinders on voyages that included the circumnavigation of Australia. Not many of us could claim such a feat.

During the Antarctic expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton aboard the Endurance in 1914, a cat named “Mrs. Chippy” by the crew provided joy and comfort for these men. Her story did not have a happy ending, as she lost her life when the crew was forced to abandon ship.

However, her memory lives on, a symbol of resilience and companionship.

Unsinkable Sam
Unsinkable Sam

A remarkable story of a ship’s cat is that of “Unsinkable Sam.” First called “Oscar” when found floating on a board after his home, the Bismarck, a Nazi German navy battleship, was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, he was rescued by the British destroyer, HMS Cossack.

His loyalty quickly transferred to his new home, and he served on board the Cossack until October,1941. At that time, the boat, damaged by a torpedo, sank while being towed to Gibralter. Oscar also survived this attack.

Now he’d earned the name of “Unsinkable Sam,” and was transferred to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. This boat also came under torpedo attack in November, 1941. While being towed to Gibralter, the carrier also sank, and again rescuers discovered Sam clinging to a floating plank. He was picked up by a motor launch.

After this incident, he retired from active sea duty, and shortly after, found his way to the United Kingdom, living the rest of his days at a seaman’s home in Belfast.

Famous Hunters

Of course, we all know that cats are excellent hunters. Their reputation soared, of course, after they saved the Egyptians from starvation by guarding their grain supplies. Some names of other hunter cats have found their way into the history books.

Statue of Towser, champion mouser

One of these cats went by the name of “Larry”. Adopted in 2011 by the British Prime Minister, Larry’s role became helping control the rat population at 10 Downing Street. His duties include keeping the premises free of rodents and providing stress relief for occupants.

Another famous cat named “Palmerston” became Chief Mouser at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, He began his job in 2016. Not only did he work at vermin control, but he became known for his diplomatic skills, entertaining foreign dignitaries and journalists. He has his own Twitter page.

Perhaps this next cat is champion of them all, having a kill count of 28,899 mice over a period of 24 years. Named “Towser” (The Mouser), she accomplished that record during her tenure at the Glenturret Distillery in Crieff in Perthshire, Scotland. It’s easy to see why she holds a Guinness World Record.

Political Cats

The small town of Talkeetna, Alaska considered “Stubbs”, a ginger cat, as their mayor from July of 1997 until his death in 2017. He held an honorary position, as Talkeetna had no mayorial election, being considered only a part of a historical district.

Residents claimed he emerged as victor in a write-in campaign, supported by voters who opposed the human candidates. Residents said, “He didn’t raise taxes, and represented an honest candidate who didn’t interfere with business.”

Stubbs the mayor
Stubbs the mayor

Regardless of how he became mayor, he remained a popular personality in the small community, encouraging visitors who wished to meet him at his office in Nagley’s Store, where he conducted business for the community.

Then there’s “Tama”, the calico cat who saved a railway line from bankruptcy. If your business has financial problems, perhaps you should add a cat to your staff. Tama, a stray cat, made her home at a train station in Japan

Eventually, the station master adopted her, and she became part of the staff. She became so popular among commuters and tourists as well, that she helped boost the economy and revitalize the station. For her fine work, she was promoted to “Honorary Stationmaster,” receiving her own train-shaped office.

Famous People Owned By Cats

In medieval times, though cats went through some devastating times, one could find bright spots. Though some equated them with witchdraft and the devil, others believed them magical creatures with supernatural abilities, able to ward of evil spirits and to bring good luck to their owners.

One famous medieval cat cohabited with Cardinal Wolsey, chief advisor to King Henry VIII of England. The story goes that when this beloved cat became ill, the king himself came to inquire about his health.

Though this cat’s name is unknown, he became known as another great hunter, and kept the Cardinal’s chambers free of rodents. The cat, according to stories told, was the Cardinal’s constant companion.


Do you remember “Socks”? This cat, who shared his life with former US President, Bill Clinton, became famous in the 1990s, when featured on a website launched by the White House. Socks also had his political duties.

Socks’ functions included visiting schools and hospitals with members of the First Family. The cat also officiated during Easter egg hunts on the White House lawn and kept tabs on the lectern in the White House Press Briefing Room to see that it remained secure and that microphones worked properly.

Socks liked to ride on President Clinton’s shoulder and occasionally sat on the First Lady’s lap.

Hemingway’s Polydactyls

Hemingway with one of his cats

Polydactyls exhibit a genetic condition in which they have more than five digits in their toes. Hemingway’s cat collection started when a sea captain named Stanley Dexter gave him a white polydactyl kitten named “Snow White”.

These polydactys were called “mitten cats” by sailors, who preferred them because they seemed to do better as ship mousers because the extra toes gave them better balance during rough seas.

Snow White produced many polydactyl kittens, and others also became part of the collection over time. From 40 to 60 cats, mostly polydactyls, lived at Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida. Each cat received the name of a famous person.

President Lincoln’s Cats

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln responded to a question asking if the president had any hobbies. She answered, “cats.” The President, fond of animals of all types, especially loved cats.

Upon Lincoln’s election as President, Secretary of State William Seward, gifted him with two kittens. The President named them Tabby and Dixie, and spoiled them completely. He once said, “Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore, she doesn’t talk back!”

He became known for non-stop talking to his cats. Sometimes that conversation lasted for an entire half-hour.

Hero Cats

When a small French village named Verdun came under seige by German forces during World War I, the residents began running out of food and supplies. As could be expected, morale was low. An unlikely ally, a cat named “Pitouchi”, helped save the village.

The cat wuld sneak through enemy lines, bringing back food and supplies, and even warned of impending danger by meowing loudly when she sensed a threat. She helped save the village through her bravery and resourcefulness.

She inspired the people of the village to keep fighting, and became a symbol of hope and resilience when faced with adversity. Her actions demonstrate that even the smallest creature can make a big difference.

Tara, the hero cat

And, closer to present times, “Tara” has become a modern hero cat. When a part of her human family, a young boy, was attacked by a vicious dog, Tara came to the rescue and chased off the dog. The incident, fortunately, showed up on security camera footage and earned her instant fame.

The video went viral, bringing Tara worldwide fame and she became lauded as a hero in her hometown.

A Book Filled With Inspiring Cat Stories

If you like to read such stories about cats and some of the amazing things they have done, get yourself a copy of “Super Cats: True Tales of Extraordinary Felines.” by Ashley Morgan. To quote from the book’s introduction, “Here you will find tales of loyalty, compassion, love, bravery, survival and strength…”

Cats amaze us with their actions and antics. Even after thousands of years of cohabitation, we still have a lot to learn about these small four-legged creatures. If you have special stories of your own, you are invited to share them in the comment section below.

And now, go pet your cat and tell him/her of your love and admiration.

References I used for this post:


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