Literary Cats & Famous Felines

“One Cat Just Leads to Another”

— Earnest Hemingway

Literary cats bounce, pounce and in quiet moments, hang out with writers keeping them company during the long, lonely hours when major novels are being composed.  And those writers sometimes bring fame to their feline friends!

Such is the LOBBY CAT at the Algonquin Hotel in Times Square, a New York institution famous for

Matilda III -- the 10th Lobby Cat at the Algonquin Hotel

its literary clientele including William Faulkner, Maya Angelou, Dorothy Parker and Orson Welles.   And the hotel is also renowned for its ever-present lobby cat Matilda.  The 10th feline, Matilda III, is so popular she has her own Twitter account and email address.  The Algonquin Hotel was the hub of the New York literary scene in the 1930s.

But Matilda III is just one of many famous Literary Cats.

Hemingway and cat

HEMINGWAY CATS were famous for their ‘six toes’ [polydactyl] and at the Earnest Hemingway Home on Florida’s Key West, caretakers continue to maintain descendents of his famous cats.

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes. About half of the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have 4 and 5 toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

WHY and HOW  do cats show up writerly habitats and become part of the literary ecosystem?

Partly by accident as when Matilda the First just wandered into the Algonquin Hotel Lobby, or when a ship’s captain gave Hemingway a cat, and when kittens find themselves rescued by bookish types.  Dewey, the LIBRARY CAT was an orphaned kitten dropped into a library book return on a freezing night and rescued by the head librarian – now there’s a whole book devoted to that story. [Dewey; The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World].

Do you have a literary cat keeping you company?

Books About Cats

One cat just leads to another.

– Earnest Hemingway

James Herriot’s Cat Stories

This was written by the Scotsman whose life work included studying veterinary medicine, flying in the Royal Air Force during World War II and practicing as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in England.
He wrote a number of books that became bestsellers such as  All Things Bright and Beautiful and The Lord God Made Them All.  His titles seem to have been lifted from a church hymnal and his writing reflects a sweet, forgiving and understanding nature as he recount the life of a country veterinarian dealing with the truly fierce matters of illness and helplessness.  James Herriot website

Dewey; The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter.

This little book about a little rescued kitty actually sold so many copies that it appeared on the New York Times bestseller list in 2008.  Living air-conditioned lives as most of us do, has caused us to lose touch with the heroic heart of survival on a basic level.  Yes we do focus on cancer survival and similar topical issues, but the fundamental, animal facts of  survival don’t confront us so much in our world.  Dewey’s story is about pure kitten heart to overcome and be saved on a freezing day after being dropped into a library book return.  Dewey website

Cats for Dummies

by Gina Spadafori, Paul D Pinon, DVM, DACVIM.

I love this reference book for  its light-hearted approach to a serious subject: care, feeding and love of kitty.

Who knew, that in the 21st Century, we would calling ourselves Dummies?

Emily S Carter

My two beautiful little girl kitties came from ARF -- a rescue service in Wimberley. Maddie Bell, in the header photo, likes to help me make the bed.

Shelter cats are the best!


Making a difference to pet owners looking for their lost cat [or dog] – this is a place to post information about your animal and to provide contact information -- see the Lost Cat page.

Its also home to cat and dog stories -- see The Literary Cat page.


All text and images © copyright 2011 Emily S. Carter. All rights reserved.
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