Category Archives: Morris the cat

Famous Fictional Felines

By Julia Williams

Cats have been a part of our culture for ages. Long before felines were persecuted alongside witches in the Middle Ages, they were worshipped as Gods in ancient Egypt. Today, more than 93 million domestic cats are kept as pets in the United States alone, according to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Cats have been featured in countless movies, books and ad campaigns, and depicted on postage stamps and famous paintings. Here are some of my favorite fictional felines.

Puss in Boots

Thanks to the Shrek movies, most children today are quite familiar with this smartly dressed cat with an attitude to match. But eons before Shrek, 300+ years ago, French author Charles Perrault brought this crafty cat to life in his collection of classic folk tales. Puss in Boots tells of a poor miller who dies and leaves his son with only a cat. But what a cat! Wearing tall boots and a hat, this dapper cat helps his young master attain wealth and in the end, endears himself to readers of all ages.

The Cheshire Cat

This classic fictional cat is a mischievous character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The cat wears a permanent grin and can disappear and reappear whenever it likes, which Alice finds quite disconcerting. When Alice asks the cat to stop doing that, it vanishes slowly, with its grin remaining some time after the rest of it has gone. This prompts Alice to remark, “Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin, but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw!”

The Cat in the Hat

This plucky feline was the creation of Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka, “Dr. Seuss.” The Cat in the Hat book was published in 1957 and is a must for every child’s library, even today. The Cat in the Hat is not only fun and entertaining, it was written to help kids learn to read. The 1,629-word tale uses only 236 different words in all – 221 have one syllable, 14 have two and just one word (another) has three syllables! The Cat in the Hat is about a mischief-making cat who transforms a dull afternoon into a magical and amusing adventure for two children. The gaily dressed cat also appears in four subsequent books, and his popularity was boosted further by the 2003 movie starring Mike Meyers as the cat.

The Three Little Kittens

When I was a child, this was paws-down my favorite Little Golden Book. The Mother Goose nursery rhyme features three naughty kittens that get into trouble when they lose their mittens. (Why kittens needed mittens wasn’t something I questioned, but I suppose I should have.) The kittens begin to cry, fearing their mother won’t let them have pie. But the kittens find their mittens which prompts mom to say, “Put on your mittens you silly kittens, and you shall have some pie.” “Meow, meow, meow…” they get to have some pie.

Figaro

This adorable tuxedo cat was created by The Walt Disney Company and made his debut in the 1940 animated film Pinocchio as Geppetto’s pet. Figaro the Cat is the only character from a Disney feature to be spun off into his own series of theatrical shorts. He first appeared in All Together, a film promoting war bonds, and then in the 1943 cartoon Figaro & Cleo (Gepetto’s goldfish). Figaro the Cat was later tapped to be Minnie Mouse’s pet as well as an adversary for Mickey’s dog Pluto. Figaro was supposedly the inspiration behind a short-lived brand of cat food produced by Bumblebee Tuna, aptly named Figaro Cat.

Felix the Cat

Conceived by New Jersey cartoonist Otto Messmer, Felix the Cat made his debut in the 1919 film Feline Follies. The mischievous cat (I’m sensing a recurring theme here) rocketed to fame and was the most popular cartoon character until Mickey Mouse came along. It’s been said that in 1920, Felix the Cat was even more popular than Charlie Chaplin. Felix “starred” in 80 films, and soon after made his transition to print, specifically comic books and strips. Felix was syndicated in over 250 newspapers in many different languages, making him a household name. Felix’s fame led to him being chosen as Charles Lindbergh’s lucky mascot on his historic transatlantic flight. Felix’s appeal is still going strong today, and he’s loved by all ages.

Cats in Advertising

Cats have been featured in countless advertising campaigns for both print and broadcast media. Cats are often used to elicit feelings of warmth, softness, tenderness and happiness. Morris the Cat is, of course, the most famous advertising cat. I wrote about Morris in Famous Felines Worth Remembering, so I won’t repeat myself here.

There’s a trio of cute ad cats that made the news recently though – the Quiznos “Singimals.” In television commercials that began airing in July, two white kittens and an orange kitten sing the features of Quiznos new $5, $4 and $3 menu offerings. The commercial was created by marketing agency WONGWOODY, reportedly inspired by popular internet videos featuring pets. You can watch the commercial here. I found the Quiznos Singimals commercial to be quite funny, but some people think it’s irritating (and worse), so consider yourself forewarned.

Who are YOUR favorite fictional felines?

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Famous Felines Worth Remembering


By Julia Williams

Humans and cats have had a relationship for a very long time. Although domestication of the cat is commonly thought to have occurred in Egypt about 4,000 years ago, archaeological evidence of a homo sapien/feline connection actually dates to around 8,000 years. According to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the bones of cats, mice and humans were found together on the island of Cyprus. Regardless, felines have been companions of the rich and poor, the famous and infamous. Out of curiosity, I did some research on famous felines. Here then, are a few worth remembering.

Orangey was a feline movie star whose most famous performance was that of ‘Cat’ in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This orange-and-black tabby got his first big break in Rhubarb, a 1951 movie about an eccentric millionaire who adopts a feisty feral cat. Orangey was rumored to be hard to work with, and so short-tempered that even his owner didn’t like him. However, Orangey did win two Patsy Awards (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year) for his catty performances, so perhaps his purr-sonality was not so unpleasant after all. Orangey also appeared with Jackie Gleason in Gigot (1962) and in the 1950s sitcom Our Miss Brooks.

Spot, another fine feline actor, rose to fame as a recurring character on the television series, Star Trek The Next Generation. Despite the name, Spot did not have any spots. Spot originally appeared as a male Somali cat, but later appeared as a female orange tabby. This led to speculation that Spot was actually a shape-shifter or victim of a transporter accident. Spot, however, has not commented publicly on either possibility. Spot did get to dine at the White House though, and his rabid fans sent him furry mice by the dozen.

Morris catapulted to fame as the finicky ‘spokescat’ for Purina 9 Lives. This 15-pound orange tabby lived up to his nickname ‘Lucky’ when he was rescued from an Illinois shelter by professional animal trainer, Bob Martwick. Morris made 58 TV commercials for 9 Lives from 1969 until his death in 1978. Morris would snippily turn up his nose at any cat food offered to him, except 9 Lives of course. Morris also starred in 1973′s Shamus, which led Time Magazine to dub him the ‘Feline Burt Reynolds.’ Morris was named Animal Star of the Year three times by US Magazine, and his ad agency (the Leo Burnett company) staged mock campaigns running him for President in 1988 and 1992 on the Finicky Party Platform. Whew—that Morris was one busy cat!

Former ‘First Cat’ Socks was a black-and-white stray who was adopted in 1991 by Chelsea Clinton. In 1993 Socks moved to the White House with the Clinton family, where he spent eight years prowling the presidential halls and being photographed with visiting heads of state. Socks also appeared on an episode of the popular sitcom Murphy Brown, and inspired two books. When President Clinton left Washington in 2001, Socks went to live with his personal secretary Betty Currie in Maryland, at her request. Socks passed away in February at the age of 20 after battling throat cancer. “Socks brought much happiness to Chelsea and us over the years, and enjoyment to kids and cat lovers everywhere,” the Clintons said in a statement.

Baker and Taylor were famous ‘library cats’ that were the pride of their Minden, Nevada library. People came from far and away to see this popular pair of Scottish Fold cats, who were immortalized on posters, tote bags and other merchandise. They even had their own fan club. When patrons asked if they could check out the cats, the librarian reportedly quipped that they were “for reference only.” Another famous library cat was Dewey Readmore Books, a handsome marmalade tabby who resided at the public library in Spencer, Iowa for 19 years, until his death in 2006. This wee scruffy kitten was found in the book return chute, cold and barely alive yet purring up a storm. Dewey’s story inspired a best-selling book, and a film is sure to follow.

Precious, a white Himalayan-Persian cat, lived on Liberty Street about a block away from the World Trade Center in New York. Her owners were away when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred. When they returned, they weren’t allowed to enter their badly damaged building. Eighteen days later, animal rescuers heard meowing, and found a shivering, scared Precious on the roof of the 12-story building. Precious was dehydrated and her eyes were injured, but was otherwise in good shape for a cat who’d survived that long without food or water.

Scarlett was perhaps the most famous feline of all, which is why I’ve saved her for last. I’m sure you will remember the touching true story of how this heroic mother cat rescued her five kittens one by one from a burning Brooklyn building, badly scorching herself in the process. It was April of 1996 when firefighters witnessed Scarlett’s courage and amazing act of motherly love as, again and again, she went into the blazing building to get her 4-week old kittens. One kitten did not survive, but the remaining four, as well as Scarlett herself, recuperated and were adopted by loving families. Scarlett died in 2008, but not before her bravery was immortalized in a wonderful and inspiring book titled Scarlett Saves Her Family. I have just one word to say to anyone who believes that animals do not have souls: Scarlett.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.