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This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cat Travel: American Museum of the House Cat


If you’re ever in the vicinity of Sylva, North Carolina (near Asheville in the southwestern part of the state), there is a brand-new museum that is worth stopping at. It’s called the American Museum of the House Cat, and in it you will find over 5,000 items that either depict cats or have something to do with cats. One of the most remarkable things about this museum is that its objects come from a collection amassed over more than three decades by one man, Harold “Catman” Sims. We had a chance to chat with Harold the other day, and we were eager to learn of the origins of his museum.

Exterior of the American Museum of the House Cat
The exterior of the American Museum of the House Cat.
The museum is at the Old School Antiques Mall
in Sylva, North Carolina.
All photos courtesy of Harold "Catman" Sims.

“One cat led to another…”

It’s not surprising that the Catman has always liked cats. It’s also not surprising that this interest in cats turned into a cat-collecting bug, only instead of actual cats, Harold collected cat objects. His first cat find was over 30 years ago, when he was antiquing in Florida and came across a picture of a cat on a train. The cat turned out to be Chessie, mascot of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. Then, as many cat people will understand so well, “one cat led to another,” and soon he had a growing collection of cat objects. When eBay came along, the pace of collecting picked up even more.


Creation of a no-kill shelter

Several beer steins and other glassware, all with cats on them. American Museum of the House Cat.
One case holds beer steins and other glassware,
all with cats on them.
When he retired, Harold wanted to support a cat shelter, so he got involved with one that was opening in North Carolina, where he had moved after a long career in education in Florida. But he was horrified to learn that this was a “kill” shelter, where healthy animals could be destroyed when there wasn’t enough room for them. That wasn’t what he wanted at all, so he built his own cages and started rescuing cats. When he came into an inheritance that could either fund a cruise around the world or go toward building a cat shelter… well, you can guess what the Catman did. With some help, he spent about two years building a 1,000-square-foot “open” shelter in which cats can move around and be cats instead of being confined to cages. Currently, the Catman2 Shelter houses 65 cats and has a low-cost/no-cost spay & neuter program.

The Cat Knock-Down carnival game. The object was to throw a ball and knock down the cats. American Museum of the House Cat.
The object of the Cat Knock Down carnival game was
to throw balls and knock down the three stuffed cats.

Some of the art Harold had collected over the years was hung on the shelter’s walls, but he still had a lot of objects that weren’t being seen. He decided to put his collection to good use by starting a museum that would support the shelter. After he found space in an antique mall, he started getting things ready in fall 2016. The American Museum of the House Cat opened April 1, 2017. Harold reports that the museum drew over 2,000 visitors in May 2017, and he said there was a group of about 20 people touring the displays while we were talking.



Cat collectibles of every description

In the museum’s 1,000 square feet, visitors can expect to see all kinds of cat objects, from pictures to art glass, a Bad Cats pinball machine and other arcade games, and an impressive group of carousel cats (some from Europe). There is a group of beer steins with cats on them, automaton cats, clocks… To us, this museum offers proof that people will put cats on anything. There is even one actual feline… a petrified cat from the chimney of a medieval English house (although no one is sure how old the cat actually is), and this cat will soon be joined by a recently purchased a cat mummy that Harold expects to arrive next week.

If you want to see any sort of cat object, the American Museum of the House Cat is the place to be! 

The American Museum of the House Cat display cases filled with cat-related art and other items. Carousel Cats are on the right.
Inside, the museum has case after case filled with cat-related art, advertising pieces,
and more. Some of the carousel cats can be seen on the right.

Details

Three cat figurines in a case at the American Museum of the House Cat.
A trio of figurines from the
American Museum
of the House Cat.
The American Museum of the House Cat is located at the Old School Antique Mall, 4704 Highway 441 South, Sylva, NC 28779.

Hours are as follows:
  • Tuesday–Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

A $5 donation is suggested for admittance. Profits support the Catman2 Shelter.

You can also follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Note that the museum will close for the winter (January–March) because it’s just too darn cold!

If you can't get there in person just yet, this video from The Carpetbagger will give you an idea of what you're missing:


Now, don't you feel like planning a trip to North Carolina?

This post is part of our occasional Cat Travel series, which highlights fun cat-related travel destinations. Click here for more cat-related travel posts.

Do you know of a cat-related place that's worth a visit? Let us know!

3 comments:

  1. This is so, so, SO fantastic! Visiting this museum is most definitely on my bucket list. Although in all honesty, I have so much cat stuff in my house I could probably open a cat museum myself! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well I'd certainly find that museum to be purrfectly fun.

    ReplyDelete