Just like dogs, it doesn’t take much for a cat to become famous nowadays, if you’ve got access to a camera and an honest understanding of how social media works. But in the past, cats didn’t get to play the piano on YouTube to travel viral. Here are a number of the simplest known cats in history, before history went digital:
Caterina, the cat who owned Edgar Allan Poe
Writers and cats go together like pints of frozen dessert and spoons, so it’s no surprise that Edgar Allan Poe’s cat makes the list. While Poe wrote a terrifying (of course) tale called “The fisher,” his actual cat was a tortoiseshell, named Catterina. She reportedly perched on his shoulder as he sat right down to write, probably to offer him storytelling pointers. Caterina also attended Mrs. Poe, who was losing a battle with tuberculosis, by lying next to her to stay her company until the top. Catherine reportedly died shortly after Poe himself died. Perhaps she was a figment of Poe’s imagination, or, more likely, he was a figment of hers.
Snowball, the cat who owned Hemingway
Renowned writer Hemingway kept many cats throughout his life, but his first was an all-white kitten named Snowball gifted to him by a ship captain named Stanley Dexter. What made Snowball unusual is he was polydactyl, having six toes on his front paws rather than the standard five — cats with extra toes are considered lucky stumped. Snowball lived a pleasant happy life in sunny Key West, Florida.
Why he’s so famous is that his many descendants still live at the Hemingway Home and Museum, and lots of them even have extra toes. And in 2017, all 54 of the present generation of Hemingway cats survived the wrath of Hurricane Irma, so I assume they’re lucky ashore, too.
Morris, the cat who owned 9Lives cat chow
Probably the foremost famous advertising cat within the world, Morris began because the spokes-person for Purina’s iconic pet food in typical Hollywood fashion — he was discovered by talent scouts. Adopted from a shelter, the “finicky” orange tiger-striped cat first appeared in print in 1968, and until 1978 was the foremost popular cat within the world.
When the first Morris died, a replacement Morris — also a rescue cat — took up the mantle as pitch-cat. There are other Morrises to follow since, as a beacon not just for pet food, but also pet adoption and rescue. the present Morris lives it up in l. a., California.
All Ball, the cat who researched Koko the Gorilla
Koko the gorilla, the primary non-human to be ready to communicate in signing, had an easy request for Christmas in 1983: she wanted a kitten. Her research team tried giving her a stuffed toy but she wanted a true one. After much deliberation, they decided to let her adopt a kitten for her birthday in 1984. Koko chose one out of a litter, a male Manx kitten with no tail, and signed the cat’s name as All Ball.
Koko and every one Ball made headlines everywhere on the planet as she took gentle care of him as if he were her baby. But it had been to not last; after just a year together, All Ball got out of the research building and was struck by a car. Koko was inconsolable, signing “bad sad” over and once again. While she eventually got more kittens, she never forgot All Ball.