the literary cat

Mark Twain, cat and shed lover – a man of great discernment


When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade,
without further introduction.”


WE’VE ALREADY WAXED LYRICAL about Hemingway’s love of cats and he is but one of many such writers and celebrities enamoured of these great creatures. Perhaps the most surprising discovery, at least for me, was Mark Twain. I knew about his sheds, of course, but not the cats.

When Twain’s daughter, Clara, became ill and had to reside in a sanatorium for a year, she adopted a stray kitten for company, whom she named ‘Bambino’. All was well until a fellow resident discovered the cat’s presence and vehemently objected to it. Ever enterprising, Clara presented Bambino to her father, knowing he would love him and look after him faithfully. The cat also proved to be a successful mouser.

Twain was so fond of the cat that when he escaped his home through an open window, he offered a $5 reward for the cat’s return and posted ads all over the neighbourhood and in newspapers. He described Bambino as:

‘Large and intensely black; thick, velvety fur; has a faint fringe of white hair across his chest; not easy to find in ordinary light.

Katy Leary, Twain’s faithful servant, recalls the response to the ad:

‘My goodness! The people that came bringing cats to that house! A perfect stream! They all wanted to see Mr Clemens [Twain] of course.’

When Bambino was discovered in a neighbour’s back garden, Twain placed another ad declaring Bambino found, but people still kept turning up in on his doorstep, bearing abandoned cats, just to get a glimpse of the great author.




Above: Mark Twain shooting pool – hopefully not with his kitten.


See also: Pinterest: ‘Great cats and their human pets for more photos of Twain with his many cats, as well as other celebrities; ‘Old Scarlett O’Hara herself – Vivien Leigh and her feline pals‘, The Literary Cat.

Also of interest:Pinterest – “inspiration snacking” or something more? Some thoughts for authors’.



Notice: In no way, have we have intentionally breached anyone’s copyright by quoting text or posting images/clips. If there is an issue, please contact us and we will credit/remove the text/image immediately.

Quoted text from My Father, Mark Twain by Clara Clemens (his daughter; 1931); A Lifetime with Mark Twain: The Memories of Katy Leary, for Thirty Years His Faithful and Devoted Servant (2003).

Text ©The Literary Shed, 2015. All opinions expressed are our own. It can only be reproduced with our permission. Please contact us if you wish to do so and credit us accordingly.

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