Four Unforgettable Cat Stories

Whether you’ve been a feline aficionado for years, or you’ve never come across a kitty you could tolerate, we’ve found four cats that prove how fascinating the species truly is.

We must admit, we’re quite partial to dogs (who else would wait patiently for 10 years for you to come home?), but cats also have plenty of fascinating quirks. While some of them may not be quite as affectionate or ready-to-please as your childhood puppy was, they can amuse you for hours with their ball-chasing skills and bizarre meows.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped the species as gods, and their cats were often mummified and buried with food and drink to help them enjoy the afterlife in style. We wouldn’t go quite that far, but we agree that cats have some truly remarkable qualities. Whether you’ve been a feline aficionado for years, or you’ve never come across a kitty you could tolerate, we’ve found four cats that prove how fascinating the species truly is.

Pretty Boy, the Star of Seventh Street

If you live in New York City’s East Village, chances are, you’ve come across a white cat by the name of Pretty Boy, who made the area his haunting ground for much of his life. Pretty Boy had no permanent home, but was a welcome presence at local shops for many years. He barged into Mikey’s Pet Shop in 1999, where he’d spend his time hanging out on the counter and playing with another cat, Herbie. He soon began spending every night there, but made friends with other shopkeepers along the street, such as Mark Dolengowski, owner of Salon Seven, who would let Pretty Boy wander the salon and make friends with customers. On weekends, Pretty Boy would stroll out to greet children and families who attended services at nearby synagogues and churches.

After a long, fulfilling, 22-year life, Pretty Boy passed away last month, and was memorialized with a ceremony last week. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

“You get so hard living here,” Dolengowski told the New York Times. “But pets open up that heart center. There is something about the unconditional love; they clean the blues off of you.”

Unsinkable Sam

You may have heard of the Titanic’s Unsinkable Molly Brown, but did you know about her feline counterpart, a cat called Sam? Unlike Molly, Sam didn’t just survive one sinking ship—he made it out of three such catastrophes unscathed.

During World War II, Sam was a crewman’s pet on board the German battleship Bismark during World War II. The ship was sunk by Allied troops on May 27th, 1941, and only 115 of the 2,200 men on board survived. Hours after the ship capsized, Oscar was discovered clinging to a board in the ocean by the British troops of HMS Cossack. Fairly certain that he wouldn’t report back as a spy for the Nazi party, the ship’s crew adopted Oscar as their mascot. He would sail with the crew for several months, until the ship was severely damaged by a German torpedo and began to sink. 159 men were killed in the explosion, but the cat used another of his nine lives.

Finally, Sam was transferred to an Allied aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, which (of course) was torpedoed by a German submarine, sinking off the coast of Gibraltar. The ship sank slowly, so all but one member of the crew could be saved. Sam was discovered clinging to one of the ship’s planks.

Fortunately for the cat, Sam finally got the chance to live out the rest of his life on dry land with a retired seaman in Belfast, Ireland. He died at 14 years of age, of natural causes.

Scarlett, the Hero Cat

Dogs may have a greater reputation as rescuers, but one remarkable cat, a calico named Scarlett, risked her life in 1996 to save her kittens from a burning building. The stray cat and her four-week-old babies had been living in an abandoned garage in Brooklyn, which caught fire one day. When firefighters came to put out the blaze, they discovered Scarlett, badly burned, carrying her babies one by one out of the burning building. She saved all five of them before collapsing on the ground.

Fortunately, Scarlett’s story has a happy ending: Scarlett and her kittens were taken to a local animal rescue league, and she and her four surviving kittens (one died of a virus) were all adopted into loving homes. Scarlett passed away last year, but left a big impression on her owner, Karen Wellen. “She was the most precious and loving cat, and in our household, it was all about Scarlett,” Wellen told the New York Daily News.

Nora, the Piano Playing Cat

Over 20 million people have already seen one of the video clips of a cat named Nora playing piano—if you haven’t, check out the incredible clip—but you may not know this musical feline’s back story. As a kitten, Nora was adopted from an animal shelter in New Jersey by an artistic couple named Betsy and Burrell Alexander. When she was a year old, she became curious about the grand pianos in the couple’s house, and jumped up on the bench to paw at the keys. To the family’s surprise, it turned out that their cat had a talent.

Betsy Alexander gives piano lessons, and when her students saw Nora play, they convinced her to make a video of the cat’s performance and put it on YouTube. That clip, and the sequel, have become huge successes, with millions of views and mentions in mainstream media.

Nora’s creative antics have even inspired non-feline composers—a well-known Lithuanian conductor, Mindaugas Piecaitis, recently created a performance piece for children in her honor. His composition, which is performed by a small orchestra, features a video of Nora performing in the background.

The piece’s name? Catcerto, of course.

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