There’s nothing better than hitting a museum when you’re looking for an afternoon of culture, entertainment, and education all wrapped up in one. For cat lovers, the prospect just got even better—feline-themed museums are now popping up all over the world, including Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Montenegro.
One such gem, the American Museum of the House Cat, is an excellent pit stop if you are passing through Jackson County, North Carolina. Housing the collection of Dr. Harold Sims, a retired college biology professor, this fascinating and colourful museum guides you through the history of the domestic house cat, dating from early Egyptian beginnings to the contemporary period. Gathered from across the globe, the multitude of cat-themed treasures Harold has amassed includes ancient and modern art (such as a Warhol!), vintage advertising, antique clocks, mid-century Italian ceramics, fine glassware, and even an actual petrified cat, which was found in the chimney breast of a medieval house in Yorkshire, the United Kingdom.
“I have always loved museums,” Harold says. “A long time ago I learned that there were cat museums throughout the world, which showed the influence that the house cat has had on literature and art. But there were none in America.”
The collector, who recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, decided to be the one to bring the phenomenon to America. After all, he has spent the last thirty years amassing a fantastic collection, so he certainly had the treasures to showcase.
“My museum is small,” Harold admits. “But I have filled it with more than 5000 items. My hope is that it will always be a place where cat lovers can learn and can celebrate…love for the house cat.”
The American Museum of the House Cat, however, does more than provide a fascinating insight into the history of the house cat—it also helps to save lives.
“I do not, nor will I, take compensation for myself,” Harold tells us, concerning the funds raised from the purchase of museum tickets. “All funds from the museum, after the cost of rent and a single guide, will go to the shelter.”
The shelter Harold refers to is his other undertaking, Catman2 Cat shelter. This awesome cage-free, no-kill shelter in Jackson County is also run by Harold, alongside his wife Kay. By visiting the House Cat museum, you are directly supporting the 80-plus cats currently housed at the Catman2 Cat shelter. Your museum ticket price helps with the rescue and adoption of these cats.
“Before Catman2 Inc opened,” Harold explains, “the county euthanized hundreds [of cats] each year.” This year, “the county has not killed a single healthy, adoptable cat.”
“I do this for my love of cats,” Harold tells us. “I hope that both museum and shelter will be able to live on after I’m gone.”
We can’t think of a nicer legacy. To learn more, plan a visit, or support Harold’s work, check out catman2.org.