Pictures of cats as accessories 1896-2014

Cats as accessories. The illustation on the right by Edward Penfield is in the public domain as is the Twitter post.

Over the past 118 years and for much longer people sometimes (rarely) reduce cats to elegant accessories of the good life. I’d bet my bottom dollar than the ancient Egyptians did something similar.

I have published two pictures of cats being carried by elegant women and there is 118 years between them. There is a very close link between domestic cats and women. It is said that cats represent women because ‘the most sacred obligations of both are attentive motherhood, orderly cleanliness and gentle behaviour’ (‘Cat’ by Katherine M Rogers).

Sometimes the cat becomes an accessory for women and it is interesting to see that this was the case 124 years ago. The Harper’s May cover is an illustration by Edward Penfield. He was the most acclaimed artist working for Harper’s according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The museum describes two lithographs by him as ‘The two lithographs instead show beautiful, sumptuously clothed women. One holds two color-coordinated felines in a blank space with no advertisement for the magazine except for the large title’. They are indeed colour coordinated which makes them an accessory.

Taylor Swift was photographed carrying her cat a Scottish Fold. She is carrying a baby really. The Scot Fold’s folded ears creates a baby’s rounded head. Carrying cats like this in public places is not recommended.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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