We just celebrated Canada Day, in this country’s 150th year, with a long weekend involving lots of fireworks, commercials featuring tidbits of history and a plethora of television specials highlighting famous Canadians and their accomplishments. That got me thinking about Canadian felines … I mean there had to be cats in Canada that did something noteworthy or historic? Didn’t there?
As it turns out … there absolutely are! From national Internet celebrities to heroes and politicians.
That's right “politicians” and NO, I have not gotten in to the catnip stash! Canada certainly did have two cats that ran for office. Given their platform I would definitely have voted for them. Let me repeat – NO catnip involved. There’s even a (totally involuntary) daredevil cat.
In no particular order may I present five of Canada’s most “famous” cats.
Dr. Hugh Chisholm, a Halifax area veterinarian, adopted Stan when he was a kitten. Dr. Chisholm took one look at this handsome tuxedo kitten and said “Enough – I am bringing him home with me.” Stan was extremely curious right from the get-go checking out grocery bags and boxes as they came into the house. He was very demanding about his entitlement to petting, playing and laps. He was a cat that knew what he wanted and wouldn’t stop until he got his own way. Stan also ruled over his big fenced-in backyard, lovingly referred to by his family as “Catopia”. He was already the mayor of his domain so why not make the leap to municipal politics?
Dr. Chisholm and four friends formed the Tuxedo Party, dubbed the cat as “Tuxedo Stan” and in October of 2012 Stan ran for the office of mayor. Granted, he was never officially registered on the ballot because of some pesky law regarding species but both Ellen Degeneres and Anderson Cooper endorsed his platform and his story made news as far away as the Middle East. He had over 17,000 Facebook followers from every continent except Antarctica.
His platform you ask? Bringing awareness to the problem of Halifax’s feral cat problem. Despite the fact that he did not win the election his cause got some notice which resulted in the city council of Halifax providing $40,000 to the local SPCA to establish a low cost spay and neuter clinic.
Sadly, in September of 2013 Stan passed away from cancer. He was only 3-years old.
Earl Grey is another cat from Eastern Canada with political aspirations. No doubt taking his cue from the success of Tuxedo Stan’s campaign Earl Grey was ready to take on the fight but this time on a national level and for an equally admirable cause. He was going national to demand a change in Canadian laws regarding animal cruelty laws.
His platform was simple and straightforward: “Animals in Canada are currently NOT afforded adequate protection under the law. Due to loopholes, outdated wording from as far back as 1892, and inadequate laws, convictions of animal cruelty are unlikely. Action is needed to change the laws and protect animals; without legal protection they are defenseless against mistreatment.”
Earl Grey was the perfect candidate to try for a run at office because he had previously run for the position of Premier of Nova Scotia.
Had Tuxedo Stan and Earl Grey needed contributors to their campaigns they might well have called on Red, without argument the wealthiest cat in Canada.
David Harper was a life long bachelor who worked as a gardener and grounds maintenance person. He lived a simple lifestyle and spent very little money himself, but did look after his 3-year old Tabby cat, named Red.
Mr. Harper wanted to make sure that Red would be well cared for his entire life so when Mr. Harper died at age 79 it was discovered that Red was the sole beneficiary in his will with a bequest to the tune of $1.1 million.
The United Church of Canada was tasked with the looking after both the cat and the money. The Church is responsible for all Red’s food, healthcare and any other expenses he might incur during his nine lives.
Living a quiet life in his home in Montreal, Atchoum (French for “sneezey”) never really expected to be an Internet sensation. Granted, Atchoum has incredible eyes giving him a heart stopping gaze but its his tufty hair and amazing whiskers that make him look a little wild and, dare I even say it … weird.
Atchoum has a rare condition called hypertrichosis or “Ambras Syndrome” which causes abnormal and rapid hair growth. This condition has occurred in humans and is more commonly known as Werewolf Syndrome. As far as his vet knows, Atchoum is the first cat to have been born with hypertrichosis. Because his hair growth is non-stop and rapid he needs constant grooming. Fortunately his owner is a pet groomer. While some people might be tempted to trim his hair to a normal appearance his owner never takes too much off the top … she likes the way he looks and wants him to “be himself”.
Although he looks fierce he is reported to be a super friendly kitty. He has three siblings who do not share this syndrome. Since he is the first cat known to have hypertrichosis it is unsure how it will affect him as he grows but for now he’s just a normal kitty … well, almost.
Atchoum loves to pose for the camera – much to the delight of his many Instagram fans.
Annie Edson Taylor has one claim to fame as the first (only?) woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Her manager decided they needed a test run so on October 19, 1901 an orange and white cat, aptly named Niagara, was placed into a barrel and sent over the falls. I cannot even imagine! Local newspapers were cynical and reported that Niagara had perished but Annie declared that Niagara had survived and “was alive and hopped out” when she opened the barrel. She backed up her statement acknowledging that she never would have attempted the stunt if the cat had not survived. I'm suppressing my outrage!
Members of the public were outraged and the Humane Society declared it to be an act of animal cruelty. Niagara did not accompany Annie when she went over the falls five days later but he did pose for pictures with her afterwards.
No one knows what happened to Niagara but when Annie went on her “tour” she was accompanied by a black cat name Iagara. Annie Edson Taylor died destitute – hopefully catless – and almost forgotten in 1921.
So there you have it. Some of our own Canadian felines and their claim to fame.