Picture Sundays: Famous Cat Statues


Hint to public artists–the people want a good cat statue not some plopped down abstract thingy. They’d take a dog statue or some old dude on a horse too, but that would be the subject of another blog post. Today, we celebrate two famous feline statues. Above is a statue of Trim, the first cat to circumnavigate Australia and the subject of a book by the ship’s captain Matthew Finders.

Next is a statue of Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge sitting on top of a dictionary and pondering some oyster shells. It’s located just outside Johnson’s house in London and is inscribed, “a very fine cat indeed.”


UPDATE: Root Simple reader Peter noted a glaring feline statue omission on my part: the statue of Mrs. Chippy (who should have been named Mr. Chippy) that sits atop the grave of Harry McNeish, ship’s carpenter of Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition. McNeish carried a lifelong grudge against Shackleton for having shot Mrs. Chippy along with the expedition’s dogs. Yet another strike, in my opinion, against the Shackleton-as-model-CEO cult that got going just before the 2008 economic meltdown. By way of contrast, please ponder the lengths that the crew of the Karluk went through to save the ship’s cat Nigeraurak during a disastrous 1913 arctic expedition. Read that story here.

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  1. I must mention Mrs Chippy, the tomcat(!) belonging to Harry McNish, the ship’s carpenter on Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914 Antarctic expedition. When the expedition got into trouble, Shackleton ordered Mrs Chippy and all the sled dogs to be shot to save supplies. McNish never forgave Shackleton and on his deathbed, many years later, complained “That b*stard Shackleton shot my cat!”

    A statue of Mrs Chippy was created by public subscription and now lies on McNish’s grave in New Zealand.


    • Peter–many thanks for correcting a glaring omission on my part. Mrs. Chippy’s fate is another reason to doubt the cult that got going a decade or so ago with all those silly books about the business lessons we could supposedly learn from from Shackleton. Mrs. Chippy’s story is in sharp contrast to Nigeraurak, the ship’s cat of the ill fated Karluk arctic expedition. In the case of the Karluk the crew went to incredible lengths to save Nigeraurak, making a deerskin bag for him during their perilous journey by dogsled. Nigeraurak made it back and lived a happy retirement. Read the details of that story here: http://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/featuring/adv13.html

  2. I was just about to mention Mrs. Chippy myself, so thanks to Peter for beating me to it. I’d only add that Caroline Alexander’s book Mrs. Chippy’s Last Expedition should not be missed.

    And the statue of Dr. Johnson’s Hodge must have been placed there since I visited the Gough Square house in about 1990. I’m forwarding this whole thread to a friend who named his first cat Hodge in the original Hodge’s honor.

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