International Cat Day: Celebrating Cats Since 2002

In 2002, the International Fund for Animal Welfare created International Cat Day, which is celebrated on August 8th. This day is dedicated to raising awareness for cats and educating the public on ways to help and protect them. Although different countries might have national celebrations for cats on other days, International Cat Day on August 8th is intended to be celebrated worldwide. 

Ever since cats first began domesticating themselves in around 7500 BCE, humans have loved and celebrated them. In Ancient Egypt, they were praised for killing venomous snakes and protecting the Pharaoh, they were used as a representation for the sun god Ra in the Book of the Dead, and the goddess Bastet was often characterized as a cat. In Norse mythology, two grey cats fought alongside the goddess Freyja and pulled her chariot. For centuries, cats have been considered good luck in Russia, and many cats have continuously guarded the Winter Palace since the reign of Empress Elizabeth. 

Anyone who has ever owned a cat – or, rather, has been owned by one – knows that cats are well aware of their venerated status in mythology and folklore, and expect that same level of worship today.  

Finding images for this post was particularly fun for me, as I am a cat lover myself, and happily jump at any chance to celebrate them. Just like humans, there are images of cats sprinkled throughout history, both with and without the families they’ve chosen. Please enjoy these images of cats from the Oak Park Public Library, the Chicago History Museum, Lewis University, the Illinois State Museum, and the Newberry Library.  

Marcelline, Madelaine, Ursula and Carol Hemingway with Wuzzy the cat, December 1919. December 29, 1919. Oak Park Public Library. The Early Years – Ernest and Marcelline Hemingway in Oak Park Collection. Courtesy of Oak Park Public Library and the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. 

Cat and shadows on porch. Circa 1962. Photograph by Declan Haun. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Courtesy of Chicago History Museum. 

Anna Cheadle on a hammock with her cat. 1915. Lewis University. Bruce Cheadle Papers. Courtesy of Lewis University. 
Work from home companions. March 19, 2020. Photograph by M. Mahoney. Illinois State Museum. Illinois Stories – COVID-19. Courtesy of Illinois State Museum. 

Cat in cage, Railway Express Depot, Union Station, Chicago, May 1948. May 1948. Newberry Library. Daily Life Along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. Courtesy of Newberry Library. 


View the full The Early Years – Ernest and Marcelline Hemingway in Oak ParkPrints and PhotographsBruce Cheadle PapersIllinois Stories – COVID-19, and the Daily Life Along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Collections on the IDHH.  

View more items related to Cats and Kittens on the IDHH. 

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