So, after a few side excursions, we’re bumping our way into the last room containing famous (and semi-famous) folks who are cat lovers, or at least have an affinity to cats.
Speaking of music and cats, I just found out rapper Macklemore loves cats so much he has created an Instagram account in which he chronicles the doings of his cat Cairo (as well as having released a goofy 50-second 2013 “instructional” video entitled How To Hold A Cat.)
Now here’s Everybody Else:
Georgia O’Keeffe (one of the few photos in which you will see O’Keeffe smiling; the other smiling O’Keeffe photos I’ve seen have involved either animals or motorcycles.)
Pablo Picasso loved cats. And dogs too. But he considered himself more a cat person.
Ai Weiwei with one of his more than 40 cats
I think everybody knows Gustav Klimt’s work. I’m pretty sure I’ve slept in more bedrooms containing a copy of The Kiss, above, than any other piece of reproduction art. And Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I, below, is the fifth most expensive painting in the world.
Klimt loved women. And cats. He seems to have slept with most of the women he painted (although he, like his siblings, had inherited congenital syphilis from their parents). As for the cats, I’m not sure — but he kept a lot of them around his studio, in part because he was convinced cat urine was the best fixative for his paintings. Which may account for the distinctly pungent, animal-like odour he exuded, according to many of his portraits subjects. Klimt never painted a self-portrait and (as far as I know) never painted a picture of a cat. You’ll see plenty of Klimt-like cat paintings around, but they’re all homages.
Kandinsky and his beloved cat Vaske
Henri Matisse was another lionized artist who loved to be surrounded by cats.
The above photo of Matisse working in bed was made by legendary war photog Robert Capa in 1949 for a photo essay in Look magazine. Capa is best known for his 1936 Spanish Civil War photo known as Falling Soldier.
Above, young Paul Klee. Below, older Paul Klee, wife Lily Stomph and cat Bimbo.
Nell Brinkley, known as Queen of the Comics, was one of the most famous and successful American newspaper and magazine illustrators of the early 20th Century. Her vision of modern young American women, the Brinkley Girl, superseded the Gibson Girl as an iconic model and set the tone for hair styles and fashions in the decade before World War I.
And then there’s Dali … who had a strange relationship with cats (as he did with most other aspects of the real world). For years his pet ocelot Babou travelled everywhere with him. And, of course, there was the famous stop-motion photo of Dali, below, with the flying (as in “thrown”) cats.
But Dali did seem to have a genuine affection for cats. Maybe.
ODDS & SODS
Le Courbusier, pioneer of modern architecture
PMs & PRESIDENTS
Bill Clinton with Socks, who travelled to the White House from Arkansas with the Clintons. Below, you know who again with you know who else.
This particular cat seems to be giving George W. Bush a hard time. But Dubya did have a White House cat named India.
Calvin Coolidge, cat lover. Coolidge also grazed a couple of cows on the White House back lawn so he could have fresh milk.
The Kennedys were surrounded by cats and dogs. And Caroline Kennedy’s pony also grazed on the White House lawn.
Winston Churchill pets a ship’s cat named Blackie on the HMS Prince of Wales during a mid-Atlantic meeting with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. Churchill is also credited with introducing the first “official mouser” to 10 Downing Street during the war, a cat he named Nelson (although he had had an unofficial feline named Yellow Cat in residence earlier). Churchill had many cats at his Chartwell estate, his favourite being an orange cat named Jock. In his will, Churchill stated that a “marmalade cat named Jock” should always be in residence at Chartwell. Britain’s National Trust now runs the estate — and, yes, a new marmalade cat adopted from an animal shelter took up residence at Chartwell a few months ago as Jock VI. Below is the original Jock on a statue of Churchill at Chartwell.
Cherie Blair, wife of then-PM Tony Blair, holds a 10 Downing Street “official mouser” named Humphrey for a photo op, which became necessary when word spread that Cherie hated the cat and wanted to get rid of it. In the end, Humphrey outlasted the Blairs in residence at 10 Downing Street.
And, of course, there’s Canada’s own Stephen Harper, who seems to have a genuine liking for cats but (it seems to me) has a genuine fear of dogs.
Bobby Ryan and his cats Prince and Pelle
TYRANTS & DICTATORS
Hitler was very definitely a dog person, but seems quite attracted to Herman Goering’s pet lion cub. Below, Benito Mussolini also gets the Goering lion cub treatment — although he seems ready to take a quick step back.
But Mussolini really was a cat person, it seems.
Who would have thought Lenin was a cat guy.
Stalin, too, apparently liked cats but — to the best of my knowledge — never allowed a photo be taken of him with one. He did, however, allow photos to be taken of him putting a child in a headlock, in this case his daughter Svetlana.
And who would have thought Trotsky liked rabbits — as pets, not for eating.
Hemingway, of course.
George Bernard Shaw
Jorge Luis Borges
Hunter S. Thompson
Philip K. Dick
And that’s the end of the cat’s tale.
Can’t get enough photos of famous and semi-famous people with cats? Want more? Poor you. Luckily, there’s a website with thousands — thousands, I tell you! — more such photos called Almost Famous Cats. Here’s a link to it. Enjoy.