Who Really Runs the World?
Dogs might have the longer history as domesticated animals, but the truth is, cats have had us trained since the first time they rubbed up against humanity’s collective leg. Today, many cats make their mark on history as memes or YouTube sensations. Take a harder look though, and you’ll find that cats have captured our minds for generations, dating back to the ancient Egyptians and beyond. Keep reading to discover some of our favourite cats from the pages of history.
No, not the cat from The Simpsons. Snowball belonged to Ernest Hemingway, the famed American writer. Legend has it that Snowball was gifted to Hemingway by a ship captain after remarking about Snowball’s polydactylism (a genetic condition causing cats to have six or more toes). Hemingway allowed the cat to roam his Key West estate freely, which likely led to more than a few litters of kittens. To this day, there are supposedly upwards of 50 cats roaming the property, their polydactylism pointing to their now distant ancestor, Snowball Hemingway.
The story goes that nobody in the town of Talkeetna, Alaska, was happy with their choices for mayor, and Stubbs, a well-liked cat in the town, received enough write-in votes to win. The truth is, the historical district has no mayor, but it didn’t stop Stubbs from receiving international attention when he was made honorary mayor of Talkeetna. In his 20 years in office, Stubbs often received 30-40 visitors per day at the store where he resided.
In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human launched into space. Shortly after, in 1963, Félicette became the first cat to leave Earth’s atmosphere. She was one of 14 cats trained for space flight in France. Not only did Félicette survive her launch into space, but she provided data about her body’s response back to scientists here on Earth. A statue in Félicette’s honour is on display at the International Space University.
Also known as Bast, this ancient Egyptian cat goddess is still well-known to this day. In ancient Egypt, cats were revered for their ability to hunt mice, rats and snakes. Bastet, a protector of Lower Egypt, is believed to have been a guardian of the king and the sun god, Ra. She was also depicted as the goddess of protection against both evil spirits and contagious diseases. In early Egypt, depictions of Bastet were that of a lioness, or a woman with the head of a lioness. 2000 years later, depictions of Bastet were that of a domestic cat, or a woman with the head of a domestic cat.
Tabby and Dixie
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, received two cats as gifts upon his arrival at the White House after his election. He named them Tabby and Dixie, and according to stories from those around him, he became quite affectionate with the two, as well as some strays from around the White House property. It is even said that Honest Abe fed Tabby from the table during a formal dinner, after which he said “If the gold fork was good enough for former President James Buchanan, I think it is good enough for Tabby.”