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.
“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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