Let’s Hear It for the Cat Dads
Thanks to a groundswell of courageousness, an increasing number of men are “coming out of the closet” to defy the female-only stereotype of the cat person. I’m sure they’ve been encouraged by a slew of celebrity cat dads such as Jackson Galaxy, host of the TV series My Cat From Hell; Joel Fulton, the host of Animal Planet’s Must Love Cats; and, of course, the most bad-ass rescue dude of all, Al “Alley Cat” Chernoff of Rescue Ink.
But even these courageous men owe a debt of gratitude to the cool cat guys who came before them. Here are nine of my favorite cat daddies -- including a few that might surprise you.
Yes, that’s right: A 20th century symbol of everything rebellious and macho, whose sex appeal wafted off the silver screen in movies including The Wild One, had a very big -- and very soft -- spot in his heart for cats, judging from all the photos of Brando with felines of various sizes.
Chandler, the author of dozens of hardboiled detective novels, including three that are often considered to be masterpieces, and the man widely considered to be the father of detective fiction as it’s written today, also loved his feline companions. There are lots of great photos of the man and his cat; unfortunately, all of them I could find are copyright-protected so I can't share one here. Do a web search for "Raymond Chandler and cat" and see for yourself.
An original teenage heartthrob, James Dean graced the screen in movies including Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden. Back in my college days, I had a soft spot for Dean and his angst-ridden expressions. It’s great to find out so many years later that Dean’s sensitive heart also had space for Marcus, a Siamese cat given to him by Elizabeth Taylor.
“Only the gentle are ever really strong.” -- James Dean
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a genius would love cats. In fact, he kept a beloved housecat who apparently sank into a state of deep melancholia whenever it rained. His friend, co-author, and fellow mathematician Ernst Straus recalls Einstein telling the poor creature, “I know what's wrong, dear fellow, but I don't know how to turn it off.”
Who knew that the seminal writer of the Beat Generation was also a cat lover? I certainly wouldn’t have unless I’d discovered a photo book called The Kerouac We Knew, written by John Montgomery, whose cover features this sweet image of the legendary author snuggling one of his favorite cats. Awwwww.
Morrissey began his musical career as the lyricist and vocalist for the British mope-rock group The Smiths -- who were, incidentally, one of my very favorite bands back in the day. Now, Moz is enjoying a solo career that’s still going strong 25 years after the members of the Smiths went their separate ways. Morrissey is a devoted cat lover and animal rights activist.
It’s hard to tell whether Newton was a cat lover, but he is credited with the creation of the cat door. A story by “a county parson” says Newton made two holes in a door -- a large one for the mother cat and a small one for her kittens -- but apparently didn’t realize that the kittens would follow their mother through the larger hole. Regardless of whether the story is true, apparently there are two plugged holes in Newton’s door, one sized for a cat and the other for a kitten.
Edgar Allan Poe
Although Poe is famous for writing some of the creepiest short stories ever, including “The Black Cat,” the tale of a cat who brings vengeance upon his murderous owner, Poe himself was quite a fan of the feline family. He and his wife, Virginia, were the caretakers of a cat named Catterina.
The libraries of the world are full of photos of author and humorist Mark Twain enjoying the company of his cats. Artists have painted the man sitting with a contented cat next to him. And, of course, the volumes of Twain quotes are filled with words in praise of cats.
“I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.” -- Mark Twain