30 Of The Best Photos Shared By This Twitter Account That Collects Historic Photographs Of Cats With Their Stories Interview With Author
Regardless of age, cats have always seemed to be around people, even if they are lurking in the shadows. Nowadays, with the internet nearly breaking from the number of cat pictures and videos uploaded daily, we are exposed to their quirkiness and odd habits like never before.
However, that doesn't mean that those characteristics were never noticed before or discovered just recently. A Twitter account by the name of "Cats of Yore" collects old photographs of cats and serves as a time machine for those of us who are willing to witness the history of these fur balls.
With all of that out of the way, scroll down to see how cats were photographed throughout history!
"Two convicted murderers of Folsom State Prison rescued a baby linnet and a newborn kitten from hunger and malnutrition and nursed them back to health. The cat and bird live in the prison's print shop in complete harmony." 1936.
Bored Panda reached out to Molly Hodgdon, the person behind the account of "Cats of Yore". First, we asked her about how the whole thing started, and here's what she told us.
"It really started out of love for cats and history! Not trying to build a following or anything like that. I've always been a cat lover and I love feeling connected to other cat lovers throughout the centuries through art and photography. I was frustrated by a lot of the historical image accounts on Twitter that are just bots or people who do image searches but never provide any additional information - or worse, false information. So I'd see a fantastic cat photo but I'd have to do extensive image searches to find out where it came from and/or debunk the dumb fake 'facts' that accompanied it."
A boy and his baby-cat. 1956.
"I thought instead of complaining I should just start one for myself and if other people found it eventually, that would be great. If not, that was fine too. If you go back to the beginning it was just months and months of me posting tons of images with museum links and absolutely no interaction or followers whatsoever. I didn't use hashtags or spam anyone or follow tons of people trying to grow the account. It really is a labor of love, not a ploy for Twitter success because I thought 'Hey, the internet loves cats so I'm gonna exploit that'."
What's interesting, is that Hodgdon actually has an archive full of cat pictures that she keeps adding to as she often finds them in places like flea markets and yard sales.
"I have a collection of dozens and dozens (hundreds, maybe? Not sure) of vintage cat photos and postcards from all over the world. I pick through flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores, and scour online sources for them and keep them in big photo albums - the old-fashioned kind with black pages and little adhesive photo corners. I posted a photo where you can see part of it here. It's the kind of thing that I didn't usually tell anyone about or show anyone because it's so boring - I mean, it's absolutely wonderful to me, but most people will just nod politely and look for the nearest exit if I tried to show it to them. That's one of the great things about Cats of Yore, I've found this community of people who get as excited about dusty old cat photos as I do."
“Just we two” Postcard from my collection. Copyright 1907, mailed 1909.
This photo is by C.E. Bullard, my favorite of the Victorian/Edwardian cat photographers. He seemed to genuinely love cats and he didn't cram them into stiff costumes or strap them into uncomfortable anthropomorphic positions.
Given how many pictures Molly has collected over the years, we were wondering if she had any favorites. The owner of the Twitter page was quick to share, "Hard to pick, but some favorites from my personal collection are:
"Survivor of Fountain of the World headquarters bombing Jesse Vezina sleeps with her cat in front of the fireplace, 1958."
Gorgeous little historical blep, ca. 1930s.
"Cats Of Yore" is an account dedicated solely to cat images (as well as occasional humans in the pictures with the cats), but we couldn't help but wonder why Molly didn't choose to share historic pictures of other pets like dogs.
"I've always loved cats. My parents love cats and kitties are very present all throughout our family photo albums. Everyone has a favorite animal, like dolphins, pandas, tigers, etc. It just happens that I'm lucky enough to get to live with my favorite animal and see them every day. I also love dogs and reptiles and other pets! And other animals in general - I'm vegan and support several farm sanctuaries, I love pigs, cows, goats, turkeys, all of them. But cats will always be closest to my heart."
Top secret kitten lab, 1975.
Kitten yelling for lunch, I think! Ca. 1900.
Molly not only shares the historic and fascinating images of cats but also uses her social media page to raise money for animal shelters.
"At first it was purely about celebrating these images and the history behind them, but as my follower count grows, I've also started inserting a little more of myself while still maintaining 99% of the focus on old images. I've used social media to raise over $20,000 for animal shelters over the years and if I can use Cats of Yore to contribute to that I'm certainly going to do it."
Adoptable kitten in 1952.
Mary Pickford. 1916.
"My other goal is to promote 'less adoptable' pets. My cats have a virus called FIV that is widely misunderstood and results in these cats being put down even though they can live long, healthy lives. So it's really important to me that I advocate for them and for the other shelter animals that get left behind because they're older or have medical or behavioral challenges. So basically I don't have plans to personally monetize or write a book or anything, just a bunch of totally insufferable do-gooder stuff."
"Henri Matisse with cat curled between his legs, working from his bed" 1949.
"Mustard, the mascot for the 321st tank company pictured here with Sgt. Paul Postal. Mustard joined the tank crew on Halloween 1918 and stuck out the rest of the conflict with them."
Lastly, we wanted to find out a little bit more about Molly herself as well as her two cats!
"There's not much to tell about me. I'm 45 and a freelance writer in Vermont. My cats are amazing, though. Both of them came from rough backgrounds and have chronic health challenges beyond the FIV so they need daily medications and frequent vet visits, yet despite all that they are so sweet and happy. They love me, they love each other, they love playing, they love snacks, they're just little supernovas of joy even after everything they're been through. That resilience amazes and inspires me. Francie is purring in my lap as I type this and Fergus is curled up beside us. It's a totally mundane scene that plays out every day but it fills me with gratitude and contentment. That's what cats do for humans, they've graced us with beauty, comedy and comfort for thousands of years and it's amazing!"
I love this photo so much. The cat is completely unconcerned that the woman is doing some kind of complicated weaving work and just jammed itself into her lap. Ca. 1923.
Cat named Hep getting a private performance. 1946.
Whenever I see a photo like this I like to think they set out to do a portrait in the chair but the cat took over and nobody was willing to move it. Ca. 1910s.
Joan Collins tends to a tiny kitten, ca. 1957.
"Self portrait with a kitten" 1959.
I would go anywhere with him, no questions asked. 1929.
Why do cats put up with us? 1937.
"Wandering cat looks disturbed as she was rudely awakened early today when Valley Times photographers came to work. The buff-colored feline apparently slipped into photo lab last night, slept, and then sneaked out when offices opened." 1960.
I don't mean to judge but they look like bad tippers to me. 19th century.
"Plain alley cats get a chance to act at Barnes zoo at Culver City, Cal. are being taught circus tricks, and will have mastered stunts that will surprise when the show hits the road this summer." 1925.
Young women walking their cats. 1929.
Cat, Sinbad, supervising Britt Lomond and his wife Dianne working on new script. 1961.