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Famous Cat Lovers From History (Part 1)

Updated on October 8, 2015
Anne, Emily, and Charlotte as painted by their brother Branwell.
Anne, Emily, and Charlotte as painted by their brother Branwell. | Source

The Bronte Sisters

Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte were well know cat lovers. Cats were often referred to in their works, as well as the diaries of Charlotte and Anne. Emily even devoted a series of essays to cats.

Emily Bronte on Cats

"I can say with sincerity that I like cats; also I can give very good reasons why those who despise them are wrong. A cat is an animal who has more human feelings than almost any other being. We cannot sustain a comparison with the dog, it is infinitely too good; but the cat, although it differs in some physical points, is extremely like us in disposition." ---Emily Bronte

Sir Winston Churchill pets a cat.
Sir Winston Churchill pets a cat. | Source

Sir Winston Churchill

The former British prime minister had several cats during his lifetime, the most well known being Nelson (either a black/ grey cat) and Jock (a marmalade/ orange tabby) Churchill's cat, Nelson was named after the famous British admiral and adopted after Churchill had reportedly after seen him chase a huge dog out of the Admiralty. Nelson was described by Churchill as "the bravest cat I ever knew." Nelson was rumoured to have a seat reserved for him at cabinet meetings and Churchill was said to sneak him pieces of salmon from the table when his wife wasn't looking. Like Nelson, Jock also had many special privileges. Jock slept with Churchill, dined at his table and was said to have attended cabinet meetings. If Jock was late for a meal the servants were sent to find him and Churchill would not begin his own meal until the cat was seated. He even made provisions in his will for Jock, who would be his last cat, to be taken care of at his country residence.

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Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens named one of his cats William, allegedly after William Shakespeare, however after giving birth to a litter of kittens her name was promptly changed to Wilhelmina. Dickens had decided against keeping the kittens but ended up falling in love with one of them and kept her, naming her Master's Cat. She often kept him company while he wrote and was said to blow out his candle in order to gain his attention. In her book Charles Dickens, by His Eldest Daughter, Mary Dickens often speaks about various feline members of the Dickens family. As was the fashion in the Victorian period when one of his beloved cats, Bob died, he saved his paw and had it made into a letter opener (something that would not be seen as a loving memorial by pet lovers today).

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Alexander Dumas

The French author is known for his novels such as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was also a cat lover. He is said to have owned 3 cats: Mysouff I, Mysouff II, and Le Docteur. Mysouff I was said to have an extraordinary perception of time. It was said he could predict when Dumas would finish work and could also predict if the author was working late.

Alexander Dumas on the Cat V.S. the Dog

"The cat, an aristocrat, merits our esteem, while the dog is only a scurvy type who got his position by low flatteries."--- Alexander Dumas

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Albert Einstein

Einstein was known to be fond of animals and had a tomcat named Tiger. Tiger would become depressed when it rained. Einstein's response to his cat's dilemma was reportedly : "I know what's wrong, dear fellow, but I don't know how to turn it off."

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T.S. Elliot

The British Nobel Prize winning poet and playwright was an avid cat lover. He even wrote an entire book of verse, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (became the musical Cats when set to music by Andrew Lloyd Weber), about them in order to entertain his God Children. Several of the unusual names of the cats in his book were names that belonged to cats Elliot owned. He must have loved them dearly as he even indulged one of his cats, despite the expense, when it refused to eat anything except rabbit.

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Ernest Hemingway

Author Ernest Hemingway was known to have had over thirty cats at his residence in Key West during his life time. Today the house is now the Hemingway museum, which visitors can tour and view not only Hemingway's former home but the many descendants of his original six toed cat, which is said to have been a gift from a ship's captain that Hemingway had befriended. The cats can be seen all over the grounds from the garden, Hemingway's writer's studio and even his bed. Would be a great destination for fans of cats, Hemingway, or both.

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Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo was author of Les Miserables and is considered one of the greatest writers of French Literature. He often wrote of his cats in his diary and is said to have owned a cat named Gavroche which he later renamed Chanoine due to said cat's slothful nature.

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Dr. Samuel Johnson

Dr. Johnson is probably best known for his English Dictionary which was published in 1755. Johnson owned several cats one of which was named Lily. However his most well known pet is Hodge due to his mention in Boswell's biography of the doctor, Life of Johnson. At the time oysters were plentiful and seen as food for the poor. So as not to humiliate his servants and have them dislike Hodge as a result, Johnson would go and purchase them for Hodge himself. Hodge has even been commemorated with a statue across from the doctor's home in Gough Square, in London. Hodge was also given an elegy in the form of a poem written by Percival Stockdale.

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Edward Lear

Edward Lear was an artist, illustrator, and a writer. When he decided to move from England to Italy he had his architect build an exact replica of his home in England, so that his cat, Foss would suffer minimal distress as a result of the move. Lear's drawing's of the striped tabby in The Owl and the Pussycat, are based upon Foss. After Foss' death, Lear buried him in his garden at his home in Italy.

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