Category Archives: famous felines

3 Real-Life Cats with Important Jobs

By Julia Williams

A while back, a certain feline wrote about 10 Purrfect Jobs for Cats. Rocky’s position, I believe, was that there are plenty of jobs cats could do admirably well but that most felines think work is beneath them and looking cute is all they need to do to have us humans wrapped around their paw. I would agree with that last part; Rocky doesn’t lift a claw to help me around the house and yet…I am definitely smitten with the furry boy.

That being said, there actually are some cats with jobs, and mighty important ones at that. Cats have, in fact, been working for us for a very long time. Their skill at keeping the mice and insects away from the granaries in ancient Egypt likely contributed to their high place of honor in that society. Many farmers employ barn cats even today, but rodent control isn’t the only job felines can do. Here are three working cats with very interesting jobs.

Station Master Tama

A calico cat named Tama is the first feline to become an official railroad executive. Tama is the station master and Operating Officer of the Kishi Station in Wakayama, Japan. Moreover, this hardworking feline has been on the job for eight years! In 2006, the Wakayama Electric Railway Company converted all stations on the Kishigawa Line to unmanned posts to cut costs. Station masters were chosen from local businesses, and grocer Toshiko Koyama was selected for Kishi. Koyama adopted the stray kitty and fed her at the station.

In 2007, railway officials seeking ways to boost ridership decided to officially name Tama the station master. It worked brilliantly! Ridership increased dramatically as tourists flocked to see the cute cat. It’s a cushy job, apparently, as Station Master Tama’s primary duties consist of lounging in her office, greeting passengers and posing for photos. Although she doesn’t collect a paycheck, the railway does supply Tama with free cat food.

Tama became the symbol of the railway and still attracts scores of tourists today. In 2008, Tama was given an award for providing an estimated 1.1 billion yen ($10.8 million) economic boost to the region. Now a spry senior at 16, Tama has earned the right to work less and relax more, logging just four days a week and getting help from two “junior station masters” who are, of course, also cats.

Mayor Stubbs

An orange Manx cat named Stubbs has served as honorary mayor of a small town in Alaska for 16 years. Talkeetna, a hub for bush pilots to ferry climbers onto Mount McKinley, was reportedly the inspiration for the quirky town of Cicely, Alaska in the 1990s TV show Northern Exposure. So naturally, having a cat for mayor wasn’t a stretch for a town that embraced its reputation for eccentricity.

The roughly 900 residents elected Stubbs as a write-in candidate since he seemed better suited for the job than the human contenders. They say Stubbs is the best mayor the town has ever had, and he’s frequently spotted making the rounds around town.

Unfortunately for Stubbs, his political career hasn’t been all sunshine and roses – over the years he has been shot with a BB gun, mauled by a dog, and fallen into a restaurant’s fryer. Word on the street is that these unfortunate incidents were all assassination attempts by a political opponent. Nevertheless, Stubbs is still on the job, and unlike some human politicians, still maintains a high approval rating after many years of service.

Police Officer Lemon

When an itty bitty stray kitten wandered into the Yoro police station in Kyota, Japan, he was warmly received by the officers, who immediately made him an honorary member of the force. Now a fully grown mancat, Lemon wears a custom-stitched uniform and mostly works a desk job at the station (rather, he keeps the other cops company and chills out on any desk he pleases).

Sometimes he gets to go out on ride-alongs with the officers to help calm people in distress and offer a little feline comfort to victims of a crime. “Purr Therapy” is what every cat does best, so even though Police Officer Lemon is just doing what comes naturally, I think he’s a shining example of a working cat!

Do you know of any other cats with jobs we should feature here?

Top photo by Melanie_Ko/Flickr
Middle photo by Meredith P./Flickr
Bottom photo by Jenni Konrad/Flickr

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5 Reasons Why Cats Rule the Internet

By Julia Williams

“The internet is cat obsessed.” That’s what I’ve been reading, anyway. Is it true? Does cyberspace belong to cats? I have no idea, but forced to answer I’d say yes. Now, I’ll admit that as a “cat person” I might be biased. Nonetheless, many other people seem to believe that cats are more popular on the internet than dogs. It’s even been suggested that there are more cat pictures on the internet than there are selfies (but who actually suggested that remains a mystery).

Another unsubstantiated statistic is that 15% of the internet is cat-related content – pictures, videos, blogs, comments, memes, Facebook pages, etc. Having prowled my fair share of the internet, I’ve seen plenty of evidence that cat fever runs rampant on the web. I can think of dozens of Celebrity Kitties off the top of my head: Grumpy Cat, Henri le Chat Noir, Lil’ Bub, Cole & Marmalade, Klepto Kitty, Venus, Hamilton the Hipster Cat, Cooper the Photographer Cat, Nala, Streetcat Bob, Colonel Meow and Maru, to name a few. On the other hand, only a handful of famous internet dogs come to mind.

So for the sake of argument, let’s assume that cats do indeed rule the internet. The question then becomes, “But why?” I have done copious research on the topic (ahem…that’s a lie) and have come up with 5 theories on why cats are so popular on the internet. Just for fun, here they are:

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What’s On Your Cat’s Bucket List?

By Rocky Williams, feline guest blogger

Hey there! It’s your favorite furry beast, Rocky! It’s been awhile since I’ve been allowed to put my paws to the keyboard for the purpose of entertaining you. The Warden said it’s because “A little Rocky goes a looooong way.” Harumph. I don’t know what she’s talking about. Most people say they can’t get enough of me! Well, technically I haven’t ever heard anyone say that, but I’m sure they MUST be thinking it.

Yesterday I was enjoying a fabulous sun-puddle siesta when I was jolted awake by that rude Suck Monster. After it noisily ate everything on the floor and went off to digest its meal, I couldn’t go back to sleep because my Bucket List kept running through my head.

I just had a birthday – I’m 11 now! – so I’ve been pondering that ginormous list and wondering how I’ll ever cross off all the impawtent things I want to do before… before…well, you know. The Warden assures me I’m in tip-top shape and will have plenty of time to get ‘er done…but I’d rather zip through that list now, just in case. Besides, it’s not like I have more pressing matters. Catnaps can wait.

I know you’re curious as a three-legged rhino to know what’s on my Bucket List, and I’m only too happy to share. Mind you, this is only a partial list, because I’ve been given a word limit here.

A Cat’s Bucket List

1. Go on a date with a cool famous cat, like the pleasingly plump Pusheen. Oh wait…she’s not a real cat! Scratch that.

venus2. Make out with Venus the split faced kitty. (Her two-toned face is amazing and yes, she IS a real cat, not photoshopped as some people believe!).

3. Eat a corn dog at the County Fair. (What cat wouldn’t love to eat a dog? MOL).

4. Defeat the evil Suck Monster once and for all. (This, I firmly believe, is every cat’s dream).

5. Sharpen my claws on every square inch of the Warden’s carpet. (DONE!).

6. Have a “Stinky Goodness” pawty with ALL 17 flavors of CANIDAE cat food lined up for me to sample one right after the other. (I predict a Stinky Goodness coma afterwards, but it’d be worth it).

7. See Luna the Fashion Kitty “in the fur” (i.e., she won’t be wearing one of her infamous tutus, wink wink).

8. Rub noses with “Tara the Hero Cat” who courageously went after a dog that was attacking her 4-year-old human brother. I’d like to think my strapping ManCat self would be as brave as Tara if someone attacked my Warden, but something tells me she’d be left to fend for herself while I hid under the bed.

9. Go 24 hours without having to endure the Warden’s sloppy kisses and groping hugs. Just one measly day without her fawning all over me – is that too much to ask?

10. Meet my crush, Meg Ryan. Now SHE could womanhandle me as much as she liked!

Some of my feline friends wanted to share their bucket list too.

Janiss Garza:  Sparkle wants to make the cover of Cat Fancy.

Dean McCaughan:  A hairball in every room. And catch the red dot.
bucket list alisha vargas
Lori J.: Cory wants access to the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a night. And free access to a whole roasted Costco chicken. No sharing!

Peggy McNamara: Laila would like to go to Costco to pick out her own box.

Debbie Glovatsky: Waffles hopes that someday KFC will sponsor our blog.

Julie Church Cat Mackenzie: Chopin would like to walk across piano keys. Tinker, since I call him my little teddy bear, would like to visit a human toy store; Anastasia says, “Bucket list, Schmucket list. I’m still waiting for my personalized tiara.”

Sue Grybel Doute: Mine have never had the opportunity to hunt a real live mouse… I know this would be on Wally and Ernie’s bucket list.

Rene Schweitzer: Having recently lost a cat, I compiled a bucket list for him. He only got to complete one item: eating raw corn on the cob. Other items were eating grass and pizza cheese.

Nora Peluso: Buddy would like to stay out all day in the horse field eating as much grass as he wants…then come inside for stinky goodness!

Cathy Keisha: I wanna walk on the ceiling or actually touch the ceiling which is 16 ft. high. All our furniture is too short.

Marjorie Dawson: I wanna fly and reach the birds! Sienna

Lori  J.: Figaro wants to be able to fly with the butterflies.

Top photo by Julia Williams
Middle photo courtesy of Venus the Amazing Chimera Cat
Bottom photo by Alisha Vargas

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Lil BUB’s Lil Book Will Charm Your Socks Off!

By Julia Williams

A few of the things I love most are: reading, writing, books, blogging and cats. So you can imagine how delighted I was when pet blogger extraordinaire Layla Morgan Wilde, of Cat Wisdom 101 fame, notified me that I’d won Lil BUB’s Lil Book in her recent giveaway. Score!

I am a big fan of BUB. Well, to be honest I can’t imagine how anyone could look at this cat’s adorable face and not be smitten with her. BUB is a “perma-kitten,” which means she will always be kitten sized and have a kitten-like face no matter how old she gets. BUB was born with several genetic mutations that give her a unique appearance, but she wasn’t bred to be that way – it was Mother Nature’s doing. Adding to BUB’s charm are her extra-large, expressive green eyes and a tongue that is usually hanging out because her teeth never grew in. Despite looking a little different than most felines, BUB’s doting human (her “Dude”) says she’s a healthy, happy cat.

BUB is also quite the witty kitty, and her new book is a testament to that. Along with lots of beautiful full color photos of BUB, the book showcases a feline with a quirky sense of humor, one who isn’t afraid to declare herself “The Most Amazing Cat on the Planet.” Now I ask you, what other cat could get away with that?

After a two-page foreward from BUB’s Dude and a one-page introduction by BUB, the book presents a series of cleverly captioned photos of BUB in all sorts of different environments: traveling through space, exploring Earth, sleeping in a cute little BUB-sized bed, meeting up with Colonel Meow and other famous friends, skateboarding, and just doing what she does best —looking so darn cute it makes you melt!

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Book Review – The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat

Belle loves Henri!

By Julia Williams

William Braden, the creative genius behind the Henri, le Chat Noir empire, has done what I’ve dreamt of doing for years. William not only put his cat to work, but now supports himself fully with Henri-related ventures!

Whereas most pet owners merely watch their cat or dog blissfully sleeping away and just wish they’d wake up and do something to defray the cost of their kibble, William had a vision.

Well…actually I made that last part up. I don’t really know if William had a vision for his now-famous French-speaking cat or not, way back in 2006 when Henry (the tuxedo kitty’s real name) appeared in his first internet video. But after the second video catapulted Henri to fame, lightbulbs surely went off in William’s brilliant mind.

He had created an unforgettable character — the world’s first existential cat philosopher – who was filled with ennui and bent on pondering his tormented existence. Filmed in black and white to parody French film noir, William’s video won the Golden Cat Award at the 2012 Internet Cat Video Film Festival, and late film critic Roger Ebert declared it “The best internet cat video ever made.” Yes, it’s that good!

Legions of Henri fans snapped up the t-shirts, coffee cups, posters, mouse pads, Henri “pawtographs” and other merchandise that followed, and now…William lives off his cat! At least that’s what the press release said for the latest Henri endeavor – a delightful little book titled The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat.

The hardcover book (in black and white, naturally!) is a collection of doleful Henri quotes that purrrfectly illustrate the disenchanted house cat’s cynical outlook on life. There are also 45 gorgeous photos, mostly of the handsome Henri but a few of his supposedly simpleminded feline roommate, aka “the white imbecile.”

If you’re a fan of the Henri videos, you simply must have The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat in your library! It also makes a great gift for a cat lover. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“When I watch you go about your activities, make no mistake about my intentions. I am not curious or coy. I am judging you.”

“I sleep because every time I open my eyes, the world is still there.”

“Looking into the garden today, I saw another version of myself meeting my gaze. A celestial counterpart, free in all the ways I am trapped, yet longing for the safety of my prison. It turns out it was just a raccoon.”

Cat treats are a poor substitute for real answers to the mysteries of our existence. Yet, I do not reject them.”

“My thumbs are not opposable, yet I oppose everything.”

If I had one itsy bitsy quibble with this great book, it would be that the experience of reading it is far too short. It’s certainly not a book you’ll take on summer vacation to while away a lazy day at the beach. In fact, you can finish the book in ten minutes. I definitely wanted more Henri after that last page! But here’s the thing – you’ll come back to the book again and again, and each time the experience will be just as enjoyable.

Buy it. Read it. Give it to a fellow cat lover. Or keep it on your coffee table to (in Henri’s own words) “make you look smart.” Indeed!

Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat is sure to become a cat classic.

Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book for review, but all opinions and philosophical musings in this post are wholly my own.

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Meet Quint, The Painting Cat!

By Julia Williams

I’ve profiled many talented felines here over the years, including therapy cats, photographer kitties, cat burglars, bestselling author cats and even a TV newsCATster.  Today it is my great pleasure to introduce you to another gifted feline – Quint, a cat who paints! Quint’s abstract art is just exquisite, and the kitty himself is quite the charmer. I know you will enjoy getting to know “Quint the Painting Cat” just as much as I have.

Julia: How old are you, and how long have you been painting?
Quint: I turned one year old at the beginning of May. Everyone says I’m still a baby, so I get lots of kisses. That’s not so bad. Officially, I took up painting last October. Unofficially, I’d been practicing my paw-strokes for about a year.

Julia: Your paintings are so beautiful! How did you pawrents discover that you had this artistic gift? 
Quint: Thank you! And thank you for calling it a gift! My pawrents didn’t think it was that at first. I’m not using names or anything but when I was little, I used to watch my dad get ready to face the world each morning and during that time somehow, little white dots would magically appear on the bathroom mirror. Well, no dot is safe with me! I’d touch and pat each one and sometimes, the dots would smear and swirl and that made me want to tug at each one even more. Mom wiped away my art every day and I had a fresh canvas to work on the next morning. When I was a little older, one day I thought the walls of our Cat Den looked boring and needed some help. The way mom tells it, I graduated from toothpaste on a mirror to cat litter smears on her walls. And that’s when I think I finally got through to them – I’m an artist and I needed a more acceptable outlet!

Julia: Why do you like to paint? 
Quint: Hmm, I think most artists don’t know why they do what they do. We just feel the need to express ourselves differently than most. This fall marks one year since I began painting and that milestone excites me. When something excites me, paint helps me express my excitement. Oh, and it’s fun to get colors on my big, white paws.

Julia: Could you describe your painting process? 
Quint: Sure, that’s easy. Usually, mom picks up on my restlessness and pulls my cardboard ‘studio’ together quickly. If I’ve been outside admiring flowers or sitting in my window watching birds, mom uses those color cues to set out a few paint dabs in a shallow bowl along with whatever I choose to paint on that day – small square canvases or heavy artist paper. When she tells me she’s ready, I find one of my mousies to take with me; for extra inspiration, and we get to work! I touch some of the paint and dab it on the paper. Sometimes, I’m in the mood for bold streaks and hard paw prints and sometimes I try to be more gentle and delicate. It all depends on my day!

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