Move over dogs! It’s time for famous rescued cats to take center stage. Did you know that The Cat House once housed a now famous internet cat? Or that a popular piano-playing cat wasn’t part of the plans for a couple who already had a houseful of cats? Or that one of our most loved feline stars was only hours away from being euthanized before becoming a television commercial star? In this first article of a two-part series, read on to see which feline stars you recognize, and to discover new ones.
We could never forget The Cat House, the wonderful no-kill shelter [in Lincoln, Nebraska] that rescued Klaus many years ago.
–Oskar and Klaus, Oskar and Klaus News
The qualities that earned Klaus his certification as a therapy cat and his internet fame weren’t immediately apparent when he was brought to The Cat House. According to the Spring 2008 issue of The Cat House newsletter, Klaus had been found living with a group of feral cats near a Lincoln business. As can sometimes be the case with cat colonies, Klaus wasn’t actually feral, but he was so thin and sickly that his life hung in the balance. After The Cat House took him in, his health began to recover and his personality began to blossom. He quickly became a favorite among the volunteers.
When Mick and Bethany came to The Cat House looking for a cat, they instantly fell in love with Klaus’s outgoing personality. Soon after bringing him home, they also began to discover his special qualities. First, they found that Klaus absolutely loved people. “With regular guests, he even has special routines. This toy for Bethany’s mother. The foam ball for a game of soccer with another friend.” Second, Klaus knows obedience commands such as: “Come here,” “Jump up,” “Get down,” and “Let’s go for a walk”. At that last command, Klaus runs over to the door where his harness is kept. His owners decided to have Klaus certified as a therapy cat. Naturally, he passed!
Fast forward a few years, while checking out an old autoharp, the seller asked if they were interested in a blind kitten. Today.com reports that the kitten’s prospects weren’t great. If no one adopted him, he probably wouldn’t have continued to survive all the dangers at the farm. The owners had even talked about taking Oskar to an animal shelter. The option didn’t sit well with the couple and so they agreed to adopt the kitten.
He was born into this world absolutely trusting of everybody and thinking that this was a beautiful and innocent place, and he was just happy to be here … We decided to do everything in our power to create a good environment for him, and take all steps necessary to introduce Klaus to Oskar, even if it had required dividing our house into two sections to allow them to live independently for a long period of time.
Within five days, Klaus had accepted and begun taking care of his new buddy. The two cats became inseparable. They spend all day either cuddled up together sleeping, or playing together, or eating out of the same bowl. Mike and Bethany uploaded a video of Oskar with his toys so that family and friends could see how well he had adapted to their home despite his special needs.
When the Internet caught wind of this video, it went viral. Now the two cat buddies have their website, which hosts various merchandise related to the two cats including books, fashion accessories, and toys. Two storybooks also feature them, not as cats with disabilities, but as adventurers. If you haven’t heard of Oskar and Klaus, you owe it yourself to look online for stories about these two feline friends who hail from Nebraska.
Several other famous cats have also been rescued from shelters. Some of them, like Nora, whose owners already had five cats and weren’t planning to add more, are known for their talents. Adopted from a shelter in New Jersey, Nora became a YouTube sensation with her amazing rendition of Bach. Nora’s love of “playing” the piano was discovered thanks to her owners having two grand pianos and teaching many piano students. According to Canidae Natural Pet Food Company, Nora is a self-taught kitty musician who really seems to enjoy her practice sessions.
While browsing the website dedicated to Nora, I was impressed by a 73-page press kit called Nora in the Mews. The document made me vividly aware of how widespread Nora’s fame is. She’s been recognized by countless advertisement campaigns, news reports, magazine articles, comics, television shows, and awards. To read a much fuller version of Nora’s story, check out: Nora the Piano Cat
While Nora is known for her talents, other internet cats are most recognizable due to their appearance. For example, there’s the Himalayan-Persian crossbreed, Colonel Meow, who was rescued by Seattle Persian and Himalayan Rescue and was later adopted at a Petco. After his owners posted a picture of his scowl to Facebook and Instagram, Colonel Meow become an internet sensation with the launch of his own website, Facebook page, and a YouTube channel that has already racked up over two million views.
Inclusion in The Guinness Book of Records also boosted his fame. Colonel Meow holds the record for “longest fur on a cat”. Wondering how much? A staggering nine inches! Colonel Meow’s fur measurements were taken by three independent vets, recording an average length based on 10 hairs. He apparently needed his fur brushed two to three times a week by both owners, but only water and brushes were ever used to keep his hair clean.
On January 30, 2014, his owners announced on Facebook that Colonel Meow had died from heart problems. More than 350,000 followers extended their sympathy. In July of that same year, Friskies posted an ad entitled “Cat Summer” and announced that for each view they would donate one meal to needy cats in Colonel Meow’s name.
Next in the Hall of Cat Fame, there’s Hamilton, a cat from California who was born into a feral cat colony. Young Hamilton was picked up by the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, who set about readying the two skittish feral for adoption. According to Mental Floss, by the time Hamilton’s human dad adopted him in September of 2012, some major milestones had already been reached. The reason for his internet notoriety? According to Cutest Paw, “He has a real mustache that is better than any mustache that has ever walked this planet.”
Hana’s claim to fame started when she became the sibling of Maru, the Scottish Fold cat who has been viewed over 200 million times on YouTube. Mental Floss wrote, “Maru’s human parents adopted Hana the Chiba cat back in 2013, and since her introduction into the world of viral cats she’s added some noticeable sweetness and kitten-sized wit to Maru’s ever-popular videos.”
As I mentioned near the start, the majority of today’s famous cats achieved their star status thanks to the Internet. Henri Le Chat Noir is no exception. A nine-year old domestic longhair, Henri was adopted from the Seattle Animal Shelter. Now he is most known for his dramatic black-and-white videos in which a French voice-over muses on the existentialism of life as a pampered house cat. The videos have won contests and have earned him an advertising deal with Friskies cat food.
Morris was adopted from the shelter just hours before he was to be put down. He became known as the finicky cat and starred in commercials from 1969 until his death in 1975. Any cat now used to play Morris is required to be rescued from an animal shelter or cat rescue.
–Linda Cole, Famous TV and Movie Pets Adopted from Shelters
Wrapping up this article is the cat whom some would consider the biggest cat celebrity of them all: Morris, the star of a popular series of commercials for 9Lives cat food. In 1968, animal trainer Bob Martwick was visiting a Humane Society pet shelter in Hinsdale, Illinois, when he became taken with an orange tabby that had been saptured in an alley after a fight. The troublesome tomcat had a torn eyelid and was just minutes away from being euthanized. Morris would go on to star in over 58 commercials for 9Lives, in which he portrayed a picky eater who would only eat 9Lives brand cat food.
Morris also appears as a “spokescat” promoting responsible pet ownership, pet health and pet adoptions through animal shelters. President Nixon invited Morris to co-sign (with a paw-print) the National Animal Protection Bill. Future cats who played the part of Morris took on other responsibilities too, one of them authoring three books: The Morris Approach, The Morris Method and The Morris Prescription. Another Morris was depicted as adopting a kitten from a Los Angeles animal shelter, representing the first adoptee in a campaign known as Morris’s Million Cat Rescue. 9Lives began this campaign to encourage people to adopt shelter cats.
Are there famous cats rescued from shelters that I’ve missed? If so, share in the comments! Then check back later in the week for my sequel post.
Famous Cats Who Came from Shelters
- Famous Celebrity Cats
- Famous TV and Movie Pets Adopted From Shelters
- Five Famous Shelter Cats
- Meet Six Famous Shelter Pets
- Nine Internet-Famous Cats Who Were Adopted
- Ranking of the Most Famous Internet Cats
- 16 of the Most Famous Cats on the Internet
- 10 Most Famous Internet Cats
- The Blind Kitten Who is Now a YouTube Star
- Blind Kitten Becomes Internet Sensation
- Colonel Meow Makes it into the Guinness Book of Records
- Handler of Morris
- Morris the Cat