Famous personalities not only show their love for cats in their lives but also bring cat images into beloved works around the world.
Mark Twain, the great American writer, was an avid cat lover. At one point, he had as many as 19 cats in his home, each with charming names like Apollinaris, Beelzebub, Blatherskite, Buffalo Bill, Satan, Sin, Sour Mash, Tammany, Zoroaster, Soapy Sal, and more. When his black cat Bambino went missing, Twain even placed an advertisement in the New York American newspaper offering a $5 reward to anyone who could find and bring the cat back to his home at 21 Fifth Avenue, New York.
Twain had a famous quote about cats, saying, “If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.” In his book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he also added a pumpkin-colored cat named Peter as a playful companion to the mischievous Tom. The famous names who love cats not only show their love for cats in life but also bring the image of cats into beloved works around the world.
Half of Hemingway’s cats were very special with six toes (most cats have five toes on their front paws and four on their back paws), and his cat family was so famous that there is even a book about the genetics of his cats by author Kat Arney called “Herding Hemingway’s Cats“.
Hemingway named his cats after a series of famous people, such as Zane Grey, Marilyn Monroe, President “Hairy” Truman, Fats Waller, Kermit “Shine” Forbes, Truman Capote, Bugsy Siegel, Billie Holiday, and Cary Grant. Today, they are still mischievous house guards at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. He once shared that: “Cats are absolute individuals, with their own ideas about everything, including the people they own.”
Anyone who reads many of Murakami’s books will discover that cats appear in almost all of his works. From Norwegian Wood, which tells the story of a cat-loving young man searching for his lost cat, to Kafka on the Shore, which features five cats. Murakami has also written many essays, including “On the Death of my Cat,” which discusses the death of one of his cats named Kirin, given to him by his famous colleague Ryu Murakami.
He also wrote an article for The New Yorker titled “Town of Cats” a story from 1984 about a man lost in a town full of cats. Haruki Murakami admits to being influenced by Natsume Soseki’s famous 20th century novel I Am a Cat, which is narrated by a pet cat. He and his wife also once ran a jazz bar and coffee shop called Peter Cat from 1974 to 1981.
The author of The Golden Notebook and Nobel Laureate in Literature 2007 was a cat lover from an early age, when she happened upon feral cats on the African farm where she grew up. As an adult, she had many cats, including the magnificent tomcat named Magnifico. She once said, “If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then a cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.” Lessing wrote several books about cats, including Particularly Cats, Particularly Cats and Rufus the Survivor, The Old Age of El Magnifico, and the short story “An Old Woman and Her Cat,” which recounts her love for these sophisticated animals.
As a horror writer, cats are an endless source of inspiration for Stephen King. Many of his books and movies center around cats, such as Cat’s Eye, Sleepwalkers, Pet Sematary, Doctor Sleep, The Cat from Hell… King himself has owned many cats, including a crazy Siamese named Pear. To him, “the biggest division in the world is not between men and women; it’s between those who love cats and those who don’t.”
The crime novelist Patricia Highsmith didn’t have many friends, but instead she befriended many cats. She had kept quite a few cats throughout her life, such as the Siamese cat Semyon (who liked to chase his own tail), Sammy, Spider, Charlotte (the cat who kept crying when Highsmith passed away), and an unnamed cat that she received as a birthday gift.
The author of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train once shared that, “When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is make coffee and then speak to the cats, saying, we’re going to have a wonderful day.” In her collection of short stories, The Black House, which features a series of short mysteries, the first story is titled Something the Cat Dragged in.
On his personal blog, Neil Gaiman is diligent in updating his readers about his cats, including Hermione, Pod, Zoe, Princess, and Coconut. He even has a separate tag labeled “Cats” so readers can easily find his previous posts about them. Cats also appear in many of Gaiman’s books, such as The Graveyard Book and Coraline (the cat in Coraline has a famous quote: “I am not a cat… I am a weasel. I’m a bit of everything, really. The humans call me the Cat because it amuses them to think I’m one thing or the other.”). He wrote a graphic novel called Creatures of the Night about cats and owls with illustrations by artist Michael Zulli.
Despite being considered one of the greatest poets of 20th century England, T.S. Eliot was not immune to the allure of cats. His collection of poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, consists of 15 poems about various aspects of cats, with names like Old Deuteronomy, Rum Tum Tugger, and Mr. Mistoffelees becoming familiar to many readers around the world. The collection also inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous Broadway musical, Cats. The Nobel Prize-winning author once said, “When a cat adopts you as a ‘sen’, you can’t do anything about it but accept it and wait for the wind to change.”
Chandler is a legendary author of the noir detective fiction, but he is also known as a cat lover. He had a beloved cat named Taki, and his legal representative once commented that Chandler’s cat “understood him better than anyone else.” In a letter he sent, the author of Velma and The Big Sleep wrote: “I may have said something to give the impression that I dislike cats. But, my dear sir, I am one of the world’s biggest cat fanciers. If you don’t like them, I may not like you. If your allergy hates them, I shall try to accommodate that.”