For thousands of years, cats have lived side by side with humans, enjoying our affection and even our reverence. Cats are the most popular pet in America — almost 90 million cats patrol 34 percent of American homes. Ask any cat lover and they’re sure to have an amazing story to share about their beloved cat, but they can’t touch the nine strange but true cat tails … sorry, tales … we’ve gathered here.
9. Smokey, the Cat With the Loudest Purr in the World
Plenty of cats are loud, but Smokey, who lives in Northampton, UK, has them all beat. She holds the Guinness World Record for loudest purr, officially measured at 67.7 decibels. Most cats purr in the 25-decibel range. According to Guinness, Smokey’s purrs have peaked as high as 86.6 decibels, which is about the noise level of an electric shaver. Maybe she’s just showing her happiness — her owners, Ruth and Mark Adams, saved her from a rescue center. The family has learned to live with the noise, although it can be frustrating; sometimes while watching TV, Smokey will purr so loud that Ruth asks her cat, “Will you please shut up!”
8. Stubbs, the Cat Who Serves as Mayor
Talkeetna, Alaska (pop. 900) appointed a part-Manx cat, Stubbs, to the office of mayor in 1997. He’s held the post ever since, spawning plenty of incredulous stories in media outlets around the world. Contrary to popular reports, however, the cat did not actually win a write-in vote because voters rejected all the human candidates. Someone just appointed him to the post. Stubbs’ position is entirely ceremonial, as Talkeetna — the inspiration for the 1990s TV series Northern Exposure — is an unincorporated census district in the Anchorage area.
7. Tommaso, the Cat Who Became a Millionaire
Tomasso is an Italian stray that picked the right woman to befriend. When his wealthy mistress passed away in 2009, she left her entire fortune of 10 million euros — equivalent to about $14 million — to the then 4-year-old cat. Italian law doesn’t allow cats to inherit fortunes … not that the cat could spend the money anyway. Tommaso’s fortune rests in the hands of a trustee, known only as Stefania, who lives with him at an undisclosed location.
6. Willow, the Cat Who Traveled Across the U.S.
In late 2006 or early 2007, a Boulder, Colo., family lost their cat, Willow. When a search turned up nothing, they assumed coyotes had killed her. In September 2011, the astonished family received a call from Animal Care and Control in New York City. Willow had been found on East 20th Street; she was identified by her microchip. First reports speculated Willow walked the almost 2,000 miles to New York, but the real story is much simpler. Turns out a New Yorker vacationing in Colorado found her, assumed she was a stray, and flew home to Brooklyn with her. Five years later, the person took her to the animal shelter. Willow’s family enjoyed their reunion with their beloved pet, making appearances on several national TV shows.
5. Simon, the Cat Who Became a War Hero
Simon the cat lived aboard the HMS Amethyst during the infamous Yangtze Incident, a 101-day siege that trapped the British frigate on the Yangtze River during the Chinese civil war in 1949. Simon killed rats that threatened the ship’s food stores, and greatly boosted morale among the stressed sailors. Simon was gravely injured when the ship came under fire, but he received a hero’s welcome when the Amethyst docked in the UK on Nov. 1, 1949. Sadly, Simon died three weeks later, but officials buried him with full military honors. Simon was posthumously awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, given to animals for heroism in war. That’s the animal equivalent of the UK’s prestigious Victoria Cross.
4. Ketzel, the Cat Who Won a Music Competition
Ketzel was 3 years old in 1997 when she won the Paris New Music Review One Minute Competition for her composition, Piece for Piano, Four Paws. Ketzel “composed” the piece when she leapt on the piano keys as her owner, accomplished pianist Morris Cotel, practiced a piece. Amazed at the musical brilliance of Ketzel’s random steps, Cotel quickly transcribed the notes Ketzel had stepped on, and then later submitted the piece when neither he nor his students could come up with anything else to enter in the contest. As one judge for the contest later noted, “We gave the piece serious consideration because it was quite well written.”
3. Sockington, the Cat With 1.4 Million Followers on Twitter
If there’s one thing the Internet loves, it’s cats, and nowhere is that more apparent than on Twitter, where the most popular non-human user is a cat named Sockington. Sockington has almost 1.4 million followers on an account managed by his “dad,” Jason Scott. Scott, a self-described “technogeek,” tweets on Sockington’s behalf. Sockington opened his Twitter account in 2007, and had about 10,000 followers when Twitter gave his feed “recommended” status in 2009, leading millions more to sign on to follow his adventures. Of course, the cat also has a website, www. Sockington.org.
What makes Sockington so popular? His wit, of course. Sockington’s tweets include such “catty” quips as “ALONG BACK OF COUCH hup hoooo ONTO TABLE whoosh whee ONTO EASY CHAIR hmmm PLAYING HOT LAVA TODAY begone floor of fire” and “what’s this I see IT IS INTERLOPER CAT hey get out ANYTHING GREEN IS MINE this should be obvious HEY DO NOT IGNORE ME indoor cat heartbreak.”
2. Creme Puff, the Oldest Cat in History
The average lifespan of a housecat is between 13 and 16 years — but no one told that to Creme Puff, the cat who holds the Guinness World Record for oldest cat ever. Crème Puff was born on Aug. 3, 1967, and died on Aug. 6, 2005, at 38 years and 3 days of age. Incredibly, Crème Puff’s owner, Jake Perry of Austin, Texas, owned the previous world-record holder, Granpa Rex Allen. Perry claims that Granpa was 34 years and 2 months old when he died in 1998. The authors of Hugs for Cat Lovers speculate that Perry’s cats’ longevity may have been due to their diet, which included plenty of vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli. Perry himself attributed his cats’ long lives to their diet and exercise habits.
1. Cloned Cats
In 2002, scientists at Texas A&M University announced the first successful clone of a household pet — a kitten they named CC, short for “Carbon Copy, or “Copycat.” The news met mixed reviews; some pet owners who could afford the expensive procedure (initial costs were up to $50,000 per clone) were thrilled. Many animal rights officials were not so enthused. Wayne Pacelle, an executive with the Humane Society of the United States, told the Associated Press, “There are millions of cats in shelters and with rescue groups that need homes, and the last thing we need is a new production strategy for cats.” One company, the cleverly named Genetic Savings and Clone, made a couple of cloned cats before shutting down in 2006. Although there are currently no companies in the U.S. offering cat cloning, there are genetic firms that will “bank” your cat’s DNA (for around $1,500) until the cloning process becomes economically feasible. Still, researchers continue to dabble in cat cloning, leading to cats such as “Mr. Green Genes,” the first glow-in-the-dark cat in the U.S. As for CC, she went on to have a normal litter of three kittens, and still lives in Texas with the researcher who cloned her.
One More: Winnie, the Cat Who Saved Her Entire Family
On March 24, 2007, the Keesling family of New Castle, Ind., experienced a brush with death when a gasoline-powered water pump in their basement filled the house with carbon monoxide gas as they slept. Their 14-year-old cat, Winnie, came to the rescue at around 1 a.m., when she woke her owner, Cathy, by yowling and tugging Cathy’s hair. Cathy awoke feeling nauseated, disoriented and dizzy. When she couldn’t wake her husband, she called 911. Rescue workers had to break down the door; Cathy was too weak to let them in. Cathy and Winnie turned out to be the only conscious members of the family. True to her nature, Winnie had been dozing on a windowsill. The fresh air probably kept her alert enough to sound the alarm and save three people.