Famous Cats

Despite cats’ reputation as being indifferent, hard to train or difficult to work with, there are some of them who have surprisingly excelled at their own jobs. You’ll probably feel a little jealous because your job may not be as cool or fulfilling as these cats’ jobs! On the other hand though, maybe these felines’ careers may inspire you to turn your beloved pet cat into a serious professional (but don’t force them if they don’t feel like it!).

1. Tama, the station master

Somewhere in Wakayama Prefecture in southeast Japan, there was a little train station called Kishi Station. In 2004, the station was forced to close due to lack of funds, but the decision to shut it down was later halted by the citizens’ protests. In 2007, railway officials decided to name Tama as the new station manager — they believed that the female calico cat would bring good luck to the struggling train station. They dressed Tama in an official station manager hat and a badge; her main duty was to greet passengers who’d come and leave the station.

The station manager was right in appointing Tama — she indeed became the station’s lucky charm. Since after her appointment, the number of passengers significantly increased, and needless to say, she became a national celebrity. During her tenure, she helped raised over $10 million for the station alone, which was enough guarantee that Kishi would stay for many years to come. Because of her significant contribution, Tama was promoted to “Official Officer” in 2010.

When Tama became too old, the station decided to retire her from her duties and introduced her new apprentice named Nitama (“second Tama”) in 2012. Tama died in June 2015, at the age of 16.

2. Hank, the politician

Hank was a handsome Maine Coon who was adorned with a tie and was introduced as a “candidate” in the US Senate elections in Virginia. Though Hank’s Senate candidacy was intended as a joke, his campaign nevertheless raised $16,000 funds for the animal rights groups.

Hank was eventually defeated in the Senate race, but he did manage to place third — which was a shockingly awesome feat for a non-human political candidate.

3. Mike, the museum guard

Once upon a time during the early 20th century, there was a guard who stood behind the gates of the British Museum. He was efficient in his job, yet incredibly grumpy. His name was Mike, but he was not a human guard, but a cat guard! Also known as Cat Mike, the male mixed breed was a particularly ill-tempered feline who would scare and chase away dogs and other cats from the museum grounds. Interestingly though, Mike’s hatred didn’t extend to birds (specifically pigeons) who were caught trespassing the premises. He would just corner and stun the birds, and then bring them to the gatekeeper, who would release the birds unharmed. As a reward for not harming (or not eating) the pigeons, the gatekeeper would give Mike a treat.

Aside from his intense aversion for other animals, Mike also displayed his disaffection towards humans as well. The only “hoomans” he allowed to be petted included the gatekeeper (his owner) and E. A. Wallis Budge, the Egyptologist in the museum. Despite his grumpy nature, Mike nevertheless became popular among human visitors at the museum. His fame spread so greatly that even after his death in 1929, Time magazine devoted a couple of articles about him.

4. Rusik, the police “sniffer”

Who says that K-9 units alone can assist in law enforcement and anti-smuggling work? Other animals such as cats are up to the same capability, with the right care, training.. and lots of treats! One of them is Rusik, the Russian “sniffer cat” who helped police authorities locate and seize illegal cargoes of the sturgeon fish which were poached and smuggled by the criminals. Sturgeon fish are known for their eggs — which are made into the world-famous caviar — but they are also hunted for their flesh. But these fish also belong to the list of endangered species — and Russian authorities knew that too well, so they made every measure to stop sturgeon poaching in the Caspian Sea.

Rusik, a stray cat, was adopted by one of the checkpoint officers who fed him with sturgeon that they confiscated from the poachers. Rusik’s natural love for fishy treats, combined with his sharp sense of smell, enabled him to sniff hidden stashes of sturgeon (as well as caviar and salmon) inside vehicles that stopped at the police checkpoint. He was so effective that he even put the checkpoint’s sniffing dog out of work.

Sadly, Rusik’s crime-busting career abruptly ended in 2003 when he was fatally struck by a vehicle he was inspecting.

5. Iemon, the police cat

Iemon was an abandoned stray kitten when he was adopted by police officers at Yoro Station in Kyoto, Japan. As soon as he was adopted, Iemon also became a member of the police force — unofficially, that is.

Iemon (pronounced as “ee-eh-mon”) usually accompanies his human police sergeant who visits the elderly people in the city and tries to give them warnings about phone scams. Just the sight of a neko┬áin a cute police uniform gives the senior citizens comfort and reassurance while the police sergeant tries to educate them about such scams.