Seattle's love of cats and dogs goes way back according to MOHAI exhibit

Pre-internet cat videos, puppy love and all things PNW pets at new MOHAI exhibit.

Could the first cat video have come from the Pacific Northwest?

“This is ‘The House that Cats Built’ a film from the 1930s. As soon as they invented film, people were filming cats - long before the Internet,” said Dave Unger, a collections curator at Mohai.

The 1938 Seattle film, shot by Iwao Matsushita, features chubby cats playing, eating, and being cuddled by their humans, and it loops endlessly in front of a couch at MOHAI. It’s part of ‘Raining Cats and Dogs’ - an exhibit about the Pacific Northwest’s fascination with cats and dogs. It's a relationship that began long before we started calling them fur babies.

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“The team was noticing a lot of dogs and cats and animal-related things that were scattered throughout our collection so we decided let’s see what happens if we pull them all together,” Unger explained.

They found work partners, mascots, a stuffed plush carnival souvenir from the 1962 World’s Fair, even a kitty connection to the Northwest’s aviation industry:

“We have unused cat food cans that were used in the supersonic wind tunnel at the University of Washington that was developed along with Boeing.”

They also found a Seattle tie to the original ‘Grumpy Cat’.

“Yes Morris the Cat from the Nine Lives commercials was doing a tour of the country and came by Seattle and posed for this promo shot at the Post Intelligencer,” Unger said, pointing out a photo of the famous orange tabby cat posed by a typewriter at the newspaper's offices.

This exhibit also has a wall of fame featuring staffers pets – there’s Dave Unger’s cat, Zeek. It’s a purrfect personal touch.

And it shows that no matter what role these critters played in our history, one thing has remained the same through the decades: The bond we have with our cats and dogs.

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