I like big cats, and I cannot lie. Actually, not just big cats. Little tiny cats who should be much bigger (like my Panda Bear, pictured below), weird cats, hissy cats, cuddly cats, purry cats, grumpy cats, cute little kitten cats…pretty much anything feline.
And I’m not alone – humans have been engaged in a love-affair with the cat for a very long time! According to Dr. David Kitchener, a Zoologist at the National Museum of Scotland, we have been living with cats for close to 100,000 years. He also suggests that domestication probably happened in Mesopotamia (not Egypt, as is commonly thought) around 12,000 BCE, when cats were most likely bred by Mesopotamian farmers to control pests. The Near Eastern Wildcat is probably the closest modern-day relative to that ancient feline.
Near Eastern Wildcat (image courtesy of Shutterstock)
The Egyptians are famous for their love of cats, which is probably why so many of us believe that the Egyptians domesticated them. They had a cat god named “Bastet”, who was keeper of hearth & home, protector of women’s secrets, and guardian against evil spirits. I really want to know what secrets Egyptian women had, but my cats sure aren’t talking…
Bastet (image courtesy of Shutterstock)
In the city of Bubastis (where Bastet’s temple stood), when a cat died, the people in the cat’s household would shave off their eyebrows to signify mourning. The mourning period was over when their eyebrows grew back. I may be a cat-lover, but don’t expect this kind of dedication from me any time soon!
Moose & Squirrel, and Moose in a Sombrero
I really love creative pet names – In fact, when you’ve had as many cats as we have over the years, you have to get creative with their monikers. We’ve had Sherman (after Sherman & Mr. Peabody), Watney (Watney’s beer), Itchy, (Itchy and Scratchy), Charles Dickens vonBlackcat I and II (also called “Dickens” and “Charlie” for short), Niña (she was found during an “El Niño storm in California), Bram (after Bram Stoker), Moose & Squirrel (from Rocky & Bullwinkle), Pellet (who had been shot by a pellet gun before he found us), Otter & Seal (because Seal is a sealpoint siamese, so her sister also had to be a water animal), and our three new kittens, Frog, Turtle, and Monkey (after some of our favorite animals in Costa Rica). Do you have any naming protocols for your cats?
Otter, Frog, Dickens, and Pellet the dog-cat
Cats also figure prominently in TV, film, and literature. Personally, my favorite cat names come from T.S. Elliot’s story Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (which the musical CATS is adapted from): Bombalurina, Electra Growlfinger, Mungojerrie (didn’t he have a popular song back in 1970?), Rumtum Tugger, and more. Do you have a favorite from that story?
How many of the other famous cats below do you recognize?
- “Buttercup” from Hunger Games – owned by Primrose and hated by Katniss
- “Cat” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- “The Cat in the Hat” – Dr. Seuss
- “The Cheshire Cat” and “Dinah” from Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- “Church” from Pet Sematary by Stephen King
- “Crookshanks” and “Mrs. Norris” from the Harry Potter stories by J.K. Rowling
- “Greebo” from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld – Nanny Ogg’s cat
- “Pluto” from The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe
- “Tab” from Watership Down by Richard Adams
- “Mrs. Bigglesworth” from the Austin Powers movies
And then there’s all the comic strip and cartoon cats:
- Garfield and Nermal from the comic strip Garfield
- Felix the Cat
- Hello Kitty
- Simba and Nala
- Scratchy (from Itchy & Scratchy)
- Puss in Boots
Who’s your favorite cat? And don’t be shy – show us your cat pix!