Mark Twain has often been heralded as the “the father of American literature,” but what a lot of people don’t know about this incredibly talented man is his enduring love of cats, for whom he had far more respect than people. “If man could be crossed with the cat,” he once wrote, “it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”
Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemens, he lived a colorful and chaotic life, not unlike the lives of his most famous characters. He was born shortly after the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1835 and predicted that he would “go out with it” as well. What the amazing thing was about this statement is that he died the day after the comet returned in 1910.
He had lived with around 19 cats throughout various periods of his life and gave them imaginative names like Apollinaris, Beelzebub, Buffalo Bill, Soapy Sal, Pestilence, Satan, Sin, Sour Mash, Tammany, Zoroaster, Blatherskite and Bambino.
Cats often made appearances in some of his most famous works including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” where we meet a cat named Peter, this well-read book is actually a true story from his childhood.
He also wrote a book called “Concerning Cats: Two Tales by Mark Twain,” which was published long after his death in 1910. It tells two stories about cats and he used to read it to his daughters to help them fall asleep.
Twain loved being with cats, so much so that he would try and “rent” other people’s kitties when he was on vacation.
Twain was not the only cat lover in the literary world, giant with a fondness for cats, his fellow 19th and 20th-century American authors Ernest Hemingway, Patricia Highsmith and of course T.S. Eliot, all shared his passion for all things feline. “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction,” he said.
He also said: “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.”
A lot of his famous quotes are about cats and one of my favorites is: “One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
We’ll leave you with a quote from Twain’s 1894 novel “Pudd’nhead Wilson,” a dark story about a master and slave that were switched at birth: “A home without a cat — and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat — may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?” Totally purr-fect!