9 Famous Cats Throughout History

Most people could easily name a few famous dogs in history; Balto, Lassie, Old Yeller, but can you name famous cats throughout history? As it turns out, cats have been making headlines for hundreds of years now. These cats are known for their bravery, loyalty, and all-around feline feats. Keep reading for some of the most interesting cat-tales of all time.

1. Unsinkable Sam

HMS_Cossack_(D57)_in_heavy_seas_c1951Unsinkable Sam is a famous Ship’s Cat, known for his service in the Kriegsmarine and Royal Navy during the Second World War. This black and white cat was owned by a crewman of the battleship Bismarck, owned by the Germans. The Bismarck was sunk, and only 118 of the 2,200+ crew survived, including Sam.

Sam was found floating on a board and picked up by the British destroyer, HMS Cossack.

Sam served on HMS Cossack until it’s untimely sinking. 159 members of the crew were killed, but Sam survived and was brought to shore. He was then brought to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which also sank. Again, Sam survived by clinging to a floating plank by a motor launch. Sam saw out the rest of the war in retirement from a seaman’s home in Belfast.

2. Room 8

Room 8 is the name of a cat that lived in Echo Park in California in the 50’s. Room 8 wandered into an Elysian Heights Elementary School in 1952, and from then on, it was history. Room 8 consistently showed up each school year to live in the school, disappearing to an unknown place each summer. On the first day of school, Room 8 would always show up ready for the semester, and camera crews began to take notice.

Room 8 became famous through the news coverage, and at a time, was receiving over 100 fan letters each day. A documentary was made on the kitty’s peculiar habit, as well as a children’s book, magazine features, and instrumental music pieces inspired by Room 8. Once he passed away, his obituary in the Los Angeles Times took up three columns and was accompanied by a photograph; more than many human figures could claim. He is immortalized on the large mural on the side of his school, along with cement paw prints on site.

3. CC
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CC serves as the first cloned pet in history. CC stands for “Copy Cat” or “Carbon Copy.” She is a mix of a brown tabby and a white domestic shorthair, brought to life in 2001 through surrogacy in a tabby mother. Her genetic donor was a calico domestic shorthair. The reason that CC looks different than her genetic donor is that although they are genetically identical, they are phenotypically different.

CC was one of 87 produced embryos in the experiment, and the only one that came to full term. Amazingly enough, CC gave birth to four naturally-fathered kittens in 2006. This was the first instance of a cloned pet giving birth. Many cloned animals have suffered health consequences; this is not the case with CC. She is totally healthy, and exhibits all signs of being a “normal” cat.

4. Mike

Mike is a famous British cat, best known for guarding the gates of the British Museum from 1909-1929. Mike was so famous that Time magazine devoted two separate articles to him upon his death after a long and well-lived life. Early on, Mike was taught by the Museum’s first house cat to stalk pigeons and point them out much like a pointer dog. Mike would find the pigeons, and the house cat would corner and daze the pigeons to bring to the housekeeper, who would reward the cats with treats and then release the unharmed birds back into the wild.

Mike was well known as the resident kitty of the British Museum for almost 20 years. Mike had some misogynist tendencies, ignoring females as well as being a stereotypical dog-hater. He assisted in the keeping of the main gate, and was known as “probably the most famed British feline of the 20th Century.” When Mike died, he was awarded a tombstone near one of the entrances to the Museum, reading “He assisted in keeping the main gate of the British Museum from February 1909 to January 1929.”

5. Blackie

Blackie’s claim to fame involves his servitude on the HMS Prince of Wales ship. He was the ship’s cat on this famous vessel that carried Prime Minister Winston Churchill across the Atlantic in 1941. This voyage took place in order to have Churchill secretly meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, resulting in the signing of the Atlantic Charter, a prolific piece of legislation that defined the Allied goals for the post-war world.

As Churchill was getting ready to step off the ship, Blackie gleefully ran up to the Prime Minister. Churchill iconically got down to bid goodbye to Blackie, and that moment was captured and reported all over the world’s media. Afterwards, Blackie was renamed Churchill in honor of the successful visit.

6. Orangey

Orangey_with_Audrey_Hepburn_in_Breakfast_at_TiffanysOrangey was a celebrity cat even before we had the internet. Orangey is best known for his role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, serving as Audrey Hepburn’s “poor slob without a name.” His acting career was booming in the 1950s, and he is still the only cat to win two Patsy Awards. The Patsy Awards are the animal actor’s version of the Oscars, so as you can see, Orangey is quite accomplished.

Orangey’s other acting credits include starring in Rhubarb, a 1951 movie about a cat who inherits a fortune, This Island Earth, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Gigot, The Comedy of Terrors, Village of the Giants, and on the television show Our Miss Brooks. Fun fact; Orangey’s owner was Elias Franklin Freeman, prolific animal trainer best known for his work with the dogs in the Benji series.

7. Oscar

Oscar is a working therapy cat located in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. What makes Oscar so special is that he is able to predict the oncoming death in terminally ill patients. To date, Oscar has accurately predicted the death of over 50 patients. Explanations for Oscar’s intelligent trait include that he would be alert to the lack of movement in dying patients, or that he can smell ketones. Ketones are biochemicals that are released by dying cells.

The way that Oscar indicates his prediction is by curling up next to patients whose death is impending. The staff began to notice that Oscar would curl up with certain patients, and each of them would end up dying within hours of Oscar’s arrival. Oscar seemed to make the rounds just like the doctors and nurses, and his death prediction accuracy lead the hospital to adapt a new protocol; once Oscar was discovered sleeping with a patient, the staff would call the family members to notify them of the patient’s impending death.

8. Stubbs

Mayor_StubbsStubbs is a very special feline with a lot of power. Stubbs has been the honorary mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, since July of 1997. The historical district supposedly elected Stubbs as mayor through a write-in campaign when the human candidates simply weren’t cutting it. However, because the town is a historical district, there is no technical mayor, but the whole town embraced the notion anyways.

Nagley’s General Store, a popular shop in the town’s square, doubles as Stubbs’ Mayoral Office. Stubbs spends the day hanging out at the office, awaiting the 30-40 daily tourists that come to town hoping to meet the feline mayor. Stubbs lives a good life, visiting a nearby restaurant each day for lunch to drink water out of wine glasses topped with catnip. Today, Stubbs is 18 years old and still reigns honorary supreme over Talkeetna.

9. All Ball

All Ball is the name of a male Manx owned by one of the only non-humans to keep a pet, Koko the Gorilla. Koko was born in 1972, and is known for her advanced use of sign language. She knows over 2,000 words of spoken English, and is able to use language to the extent of a young human child. In 1983, Koko asked her researchers for a pet cat for Christmas. They tried giving her stuffed animals, but Koko would only continue to sign “sad” until they decided to let her choose a kitten to keep. She selected a gray Manx and named it “All Ball.”

Koko would go to treat the kitten as if it were her baby; trying to nurse the kitten, petting it, being gentle and loving with the little fur ball. Unfortunately, All Ball escaped from Koko’s cage and was hit by a car and killed. When Koko was told about the event, she continuously signed “bad, sad, frown, cry,” and made sounds similar to a human weeping. In 1985, Koko was allowed to pick out two new kittens, and named them “Lipstick” and “Smokey.”