Those of us with moggies of our own know that cats are pretty special! But did you know there have been many famous felines throughout history? From inspiring Nikola Tesla, serving as station master in Japan, being elected mayor of an Alaskan town, and sitting by the side of ancient Egyptian royalty - cats really have done it all! Here are some of our favourite famous cats to celebrate International Cat Day...
Ta-Miu was the personal pet of Crown Prince Thutmose, the eldest son of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye of the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians had a huge admiration for cats and Bastet, the Egyptian goddess of love, was portrayed with a cat’s head. Archaeologists discovered 300,000 cat mummies buried in Beni-Hassan. And killing a cat in ancient Egypt could earn you a death sentence. After her death, Ta-Miu was mummified and buried in an ornately decorated sarcophagus alongside the prince. In fact, her sarcophagus offers most of what the world knows about the short life of Crown Prince Thutmose.
Tama the Station Master
Tama, a calico cat from Kinokawa, Japan was a stray cat who lived with a group of other strays near Kishi station. The cats we often fed by passengers as well as staff at the station. The station was near closure in 2004 because of financial problems on the rail line. Around this time, Toshiko Koyama, the station master at the time, adopted Tama so that she wouldn't be left alone. Eventually the decision to close the station was withdrawn after the locals demanded it to stay open. The stations were all destaffed, and a local person was chosen as station master. Koyama stayed on as the station master for Kishi and often brought Tama to work with him. On January 5 2007, railway officials officially awarded Tama the title of station master. As station master, her primary duty was to greet passengers. Instead of an annual salary, the railway provided Tama with a year's worth of cat food and a gold name tag for her collar stating her name and position. A station master's hat was specially designed and made to fit Tama, and took more than six months to complete. The publicity from Tama's role led to an increase in passengers by 17% for that month compared to the previous year! In 2013 at the ceremony celebrating her sixth year as stationmaster, Tama was promoted to Honorary President of Wakayama Electric Rail for life. She retired shortly after but still loved to visit the station.
In a 1939 letter to a 12-year-old, Tesla wrote how his childhood pet, a black cat named Macek, left him with a lifelong fascination with electricity: “In the dusk of the evening as I stroked Maček’s back, I saw a miracle which made me speechless with amazement. Maček’s back was a sheet of light, and my hand produced a shower of crackling sparks loud enough to be heard all over the house… I cannot exaggerate the effect of this marvelous night on my childish imagination. Day after day I have asked myself, what is electricity?” Who knows what discoveries Macek was responsible for?!