Cat Haters: Famous People in History Who Disliked Cats
"How you behave toward cats here below determines your status in Heaven."— Robert A Heinlein, American journalist
History's Cat Haters Club: Karma's Gonna Get 'Em Good
If there's any truth to this saying, Hell is going to be chock full of dictators, puffed up men, and a few other famous people whose identities just might shock you.
As appropriate penance for their misdeeds, I imagine these cat haters will spend all eternity surrounded by fuzzy felines who purr loudly in the haters' ears, curl up tightly in their laps, and lick their faces with scratchy tongues and tuna breath. On occasion, the cats might even pee on things that are important to them.
And the haters will just have to take their punishment.
Really, now. How could a person hate a fuzzy kitty cat? Being indifferent is one thing, but to despise a whole species? Puh-leeze.
As a child I was bitten on the face by a neighbor's dog, right below my eye — a traumatic incident. However, I sure don't hate dogs or seek to harm them.
But then I am reminded that many of the members of History's Cat Haters Club were not your ordinary lot. Just look what they did to people. 'Nuff said.
Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler: Brutal Buddies
What a pair these guys were.
As a youth, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was repeatedly expelled from school for bullying. Shouldn't that have been a sign?
He was subsequently kicked out of a neighboring country (Switzerland) as well a political party (the Socialists) before forming his own right-wing Fascist party. Mussolini's Fascists opposed social class discrimination and advocated Italian nationalism. The puffed-up dictator made shouting speeches promising to restore early 20th century Italy to its former Roman glory.1
Mussolini Was a Cat Hater Through and Through
Mussolini was cruel by nature, as evidenced in a brutal rape of an English journalist; during an interview she posed a question that he didn't like.2 He established an anti-modern agenda in Italy featuring misogynistic, homophobic, and virilistic values.
As if this weren't enough, Mussolini was also a noted cat hater, as observed by American journalist John Gunter: "The things that Mussolini hates most are Hitler, aristocrats, money, cats, and old age."3
These are some of the things Mussolini despised.
What do you hate most?
Mussolini's Son Tried to Edit History
In a 2006 memoir Mussolini's son, Romano, denied the notion that the Fascist dictator hated cats. Son Romano claimed that the family had a Persian cat that would occupy Il Duce's favorite armchair. At times, the dictator allegedly opted to sit on a footstool rather than disturb the napping feline.4 (Really?)
Romano Mussolini was criticized, however, as a revisionist biographer in many ways. He was a son writing a memoir six decades after the death of a much-despised dictator father. As such, he conveniently ignored many facts and glossed over others.
It's more likely that Mussolini did indeed hate cats, as was originally reported. After all, Mussolini was the same misanthrope who said, "Let us have a dagger between our teeth, a bomb in our hands, and an infinite scorn in our hearts."
Is that a man whose heart goes to jello over any animal?
Hitler: Foe of Felines?
Mussolini formed an uneasy military alliance with Adolf Hitler, known as the "Pact of Steel." Hitler, his partner in hate, (1889-1945) was the ruthless Austrian-born leader of Germany's Nazi regime.
During World War II, Hitler's ideas of racial purity led to the slaughter of millions of people whom he deemed inferior, racially or otherwise. This included approximately 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, 2 million Poles, 3 million Soviet prisoners of war, his political opponents, homosexuals, people with disabilities, trade unionists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others.5
Hitler: Frustrated Artist and Dog Lover
The Führer was a frustrated painter, having failed as a watercolor artist in his youth. He became homeless thereafter and developed deep anti-Semitic beliefs. Hitler then pursued a military career, political extremism, and a passion for political vitriol.
Although Hitler is often said to have despised cats, there is no specific evidence of this. (Some say he loved animals.)
The megalomaniacal dictator did specifically enjoy dogs. German Shepherds were a personal favorite. Hitler's appreciation of the breed was an extension of his beliefs in racially and culturally pure bloodlines.6
Hitler's own German Shepherd, Blondi, sometimes slept in his bedroom. She was with him in the bunker where he and others eventually took their own lives rather than surrender. Blondi was given the test cyanide pill to ensure that the method of suicide worked.
Eva's in Trouble, Too
Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress (and in the last hours, his wife), liked cats. However, the couple only kept dogs as pets. She was not a fan of Blondi and admitted to having sometimes kicked Hitler's dog under the table!
It looks like cats are not the only ones who will be getting revenge on the haters.
"A cat's got her own opinion of human beings. She don't say much, but you can tell enough that it makes you anxious not to hear the whole of it."— Jerome K. Jerome, English author
Johannes Brahms: The Disappointing Man Behind the Music
After what I now know about Johannes Brahms, his lullaby will never be the same for me. It was the last work he wrote in his life, and he dedicated it to a friend's infant son.
Sweet, huh? Well, the man behind the music is not. He's disappointing for both his misogyny and his hate of cats.
Brahms (1833-1897) was a popular German composer and pianist who spent much of his career in Austria. Brahms received early training in piano from his father and became a lifelong perfectionist who produced complex musical masterpieces.
To help his struggling family financially, young Brahms was required to play his music all night in brothels and dance halls. He was jarred emotionally by the experience and formed conflicting feelings about women as a result.
The composer perceived them all as harlots and as "shallow and senseless," and he harbored those feelings his entire life. Although Brahms had a long term relationship with another composer's wife, Brahms never married and he regularly visited prostitutes.7
Additionally, Brahms was a vehement cat hater who acted upon his dislike. Through an open window, he used his bow and arrow to try to kill neighborhood cats.8 Unfortunately, he's not the only famous man in history who inflicted harm on felines.
Dwight Eisenhower: Now I Don't Like Ike
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was an American five-star general who served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II before becoming the 34th American President. As President, he was both credited and criticized for his prudence.9 In his farewell address, he cautioned the nation to “avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.”
But there was a dark side to this leader. When Eisenhower left office and retired to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennysylvania, he gave his staff orders to shoot any cat they saw on his property.10 Such hating behavior is hardly appropriate behavior for a war hero, wouldn't you say?
Ike Warmed Up to Dogs (Well, at Least One)
In spite of Ike's disdain for felines, he came to eventually appreciate a dog that was given to him as a gift. The Weimaraner, named "Heidi," even had an accident on an expensive rug in the diplomatic reception room of the White House, whereupon she earned the distinction of being the only Presidential pet ever to be banned from the residence.11
Luckily, Heidi went to the President's farm to wait out his term. In spite of the President's attachment to his dog, it's not enough to make me like "Ike."
Napoleon Bonaparte: He Tawt He Taw a Puddy Tat
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was the ruler of France, known as a dangerous tyrant on the battlefield. However, according to legend, a kitty cat nearly caused the most famous soldier of his day to come unhinged.12 Napoleon became infamous for his fear of cats.
After France's second occupation of Vienna, an attendant heard the little Emperor shouting in distress late at night. Half undressed and sweating in fear, Napoleon swung his sword wildly at his tapestry-covered walls. He was attempting to protect himself from a cat that had entered his room.
The St. Helena Cat Hoax: A Joke at Napoleon's Expense
Then, in 1815, after Napoleon had been defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and exiled to the island of St. Helena, residents of the barren rocky island played a joke on the cat-fearing leader. Just before his arrival, an anonymous source circulated a handbill announcing that the island was infested with rats. Bounties were offered for each cat.
Residents eagerly gathered up cats both large and small. On the specified day, islanders delivered the cats to the appointed location to collect their bounties. There was a riot when the joke was exposed. The cats escaped.
What a welcome for the befallen emperor!
Noah Webster: Grammar Nazi and Cat Hater
Look up "Noah Webster" in the dictionary and you'll find a vehement cat hater.
Webster called the cat a "deceitful animal and when enraged, extremely spiteful." (In defense of cats, I deny his baseless allegation, although I do hope his fellow cat haters take note. Just sayin'.)
Webster (1758-1843) was an author and lexicographer whose passion was the advancement of an American English language. His dictionary promoted standardized spelling, grammar and pronunciation. We have him to thank for changing "re" to "er" in some words (theatre/theater), choosing "s" instead of "c" in words like defense, and dropping the "u" in words like colour.
With a cat-hating attitude like he had, it's a good thing language was his priority, rather than animals. Spelling gave him something important to do without disturbing the poor felines too much.
Tyrants, Brutes, and Other Hatin' Fools
It's no surprise that Mongolian warrior Genghis Khan (1162-1227) hated cats. The man was a freaking sadist. He had enemies boiled alive.13 On his quest to expand his vast empire, the ruler killed 40 million people. Large land tracts were deforested following massive depopulation.14
Then, when the bloodthirsty militant placed a walled Chinese city under siege, Khan demanded a ransom of 1,000 cats and 10,000 swallows. Upon delivery of the animals, he had material tied to their backs then set the material on fire. This sent the city up in flames as the poor animals fled.
The self-imposed ruler is credited with the popular quotation "it's not how many breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away." However, Khan also proudly proclaimed: "I am the flail of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you."
Henry III of France (1551-1589), son of Catherine de' Medici and Henry II, was an ineffective ruler who persecuted Protestants and scandalized the throne with his liaisons with male "favorites." The mere sight of a cat would throw him into a tizzy. The poor fellow would faint.
French naturalist Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788) was famous for his natural history volumes that inspired two generations of naturalists. However, the man who studied such a wide range of plants and animals dared to offend cats and those who loved them.
He said that cats had "an innate malice and perverse disposition which increases as they grow up." He added that they "easily assume the habits of society, but never acquire its manners."
Before you sharpen your claws, consider the source. This was the same man who advocated a theory that the New World was inferior to Eurasia because of America's marsh odors and dense forests. Buffon said that Americans were less virile because we lacked large animals. The claim offended Thomas Jefferson so much that Jefferson had soldiers round up a bull moose in response. Take that!
Does This Cat Know Something We Don't?
Where Are the Haters Now?
You can tell a lot about a man from what he despises ... injustice, inequality, homelessness, war. . .but cats?
History's Cat Hater's Club is an ugly one filled with those who were hungry for power. Perhaps they were jealous of the cat's self-confidence. The cat yields to no man, and especially not to dictators and despots.
You cannot command or own a cat. You must persuade him. And then your chances are just so-so.
Taking an instant dislike to a creature as majestic and interpersonally astute as a cat is not a wise move. If Karma acts as it should, right about now in the great beyond all those cat haters are gathered around. Mussolini's boots are sloshing in cat urine. Noah Webster's lap in full of yacked up hairballs. Genghis Khan's beard has become a play toy.
And they all listening to the auto-loop of cats meowing to the tune of Brahm's lullaby. But don't worry if the kitties miss a note; they'll have all eternity to perfect it. Bahahaha!
Karma is hell. Never hate a cat, ya'll.
- "Benito Mussolini Biography." Accessed December 5, 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/benito-mussolini-9419443?page=1>.
- Terry, Cifford. "Mussolini: Rise And Fall Of Il Duce." Chicago Tribune. Last modified November 24, 1985. <http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-11-24/entertainment/8503210336_1_vittorio-mussolini-benito-mussolini-adolf-hitler/2>.
- Trove. "14 May 1936 - The Advertiser - p10." Accessed December 5, 2013. <http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/7298962>.
- Stepp, Gina. "At Home With Il Duce: A Son's Memoir." Vision-Insights and New Horizons. Last modified November 8, 2006. <http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=861>.
- Wikipedia. "Adolf Hitler." Last modified December 4, 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler>.
- Fritz, Robb. "History’s a Bitch: A Dog Walk Through Time: Heel, Hitler." McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Last modified December 2, 2011. <http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/heel-hitler>.
- 7Second Chance Cats. "Famous Cat Lovers & Haters." n.d. <www.secondchancecats.org/>.
- 8Gilmore, David D. "Misogyny: The Male Malady - David D. Gilmore." Google Books. Last modified 2001.
- 9Brooks, David. "The Ike Phase." The New York Times. Last modified March 14, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/opinion/15brooks.html?_r=0.
- 10Mental Floss. "A Presidents' Day Round-up of Presidential Facts." Last modified February 15, 2009. <http://mentalfloss.com/article/20875/presidents-day-round-presidential-facts>.
- Presidential Pet Museum. "Pets Archives." Last modified November 15, 2013. <http://presidentialpetmuseum.com/pets/>.
- Great Books Online. "Chapter Three. Ailurophobes and Other Cat-Haters. Van Vechten, Carl. 1922. The Tiger in the House." Accessed December 6, 2013. <http://www.bartleby.com/234/3.html>.
- Bio. "Genghis Khan Biography." Accessed December 7, 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/genghis-khan-9308634?page=4>.
- Mail Online. "Genghis Khan killed so many people that forests grew and carbon levels dropped." Last modified January 25, 2011. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1350272/Genghis-Khan-killed-people-forests-grew-carbon-levels-dropped.html>.
Can't We All Just Get Along?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Why do some people dislike cats?
People's preferences are molded by their past experiences with cats such as being scratched as a child (obviously, their fault) or growing up with a family cat (how fortunate!).
A lack of exposure to cats may prompt avoidance, as we fear what we don't understand. History is full of harmful and untrue old wives tales that have unfairly victimized cats, and they do not deserve repeating.
People's preferences are also influenced by their own personalities, as we seek pets who reflect who we are. Research indicates that dog people tend to be more extroverted (outgoing) and conscientious (rule-following) while cat people tend to be more open to experience (adventurous) and neurotic (sensitive). Cat people also tend to be smarter on average, according to research.
People who claim to dislike cats sometimes cite allergies. While both dogs and cats have dander that may cause allergies, cats are exceptionally clean animals, and their frequent self-grooming may aggravate pet allergies. Others don't like having to scoop litter boxes, but I find it strange that they don't mind picking up dog doo. Cats literally train themselves to use the litterbox. All you have to do is scoop.
Others consider cats too independent and not needy enough. However, cat lovers understand that that's part of the allure. You never own a cat. She owns you.
I've seen hardened cat-haters become dedicated cat-lovers after a magic cat walked into their lives. The purring, the quiet confidence, the assistance you get at the computer! It can happen. Thus, I leave you with this quote:
"Any conditioned cat-hater can be won over by any cat who chooses to make the effort." - Paul CoreyHelpful 2
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