Mike (cat)

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Mike
Species Felis domesticus
Sex Male
Born February 1909
Great Britain
Died January 1929 (1929-02) (aged 19)
London, England
Known for Guardian of the British Museum

Mike (February 1909 – January 1929) was a famous cat who guarded the gates of the British Museum and whose fame was such that Time magazine devoted two articles to him on his death. E. A. Wallis Budge's work describing the life of Mike has been viewed as the zenith of such biographical writing.[1]

Early life[edit]

The house cat of the Museum taught the young Mike to stalk pigeons by pointing like a dog to the intruder. Under the kitten's guidance the house cat would proceed to corner the pigeons, daze them, then bring them to the house keeper, who would exchange the bird for a morsel of food and milk, and release them unharmed.[1]

Later life[edit]

Mike spent 20 years at the British Museum during which time he gained a certain notoriety for his misogynist tendencies, pushing away any attempt at fraternisation with females and having a dislike for dogs. Mike would only allow certain people to feed him, those "who treated him as a man and brother". Interest in Mike spread such that he was described as "probably the most famed British feline of the 20th Century".[1]

As the doyen of Bloomsbury felines the elderly Mike spoke to nobody, and would only allow the official gatekeeper and Sir Ernest A. Wallis Budge to feed him.[2]

When Mike died Sir Wallis Budge contributed to the Evening Standard an obituary of Mike which became the basis of his monograph "Mike, the cat who assisted in keeping the main gate of the British Museum from February 1909 to January 1929". This work includes an ode composed by F. C. W. Hiley which ends:

Old Mike! Farewell! We all regret you, Although, you would not let us pet you; Of cats the wisest, oldest best cat, This be your motto — Requiescat![1]

Mike's tombstone was erected near the Great Russell Street entrance and the inscription reads: "He assisted in keeping the main gate of the British Museum from February 1909 to January 1929."[2]

Reference works[edit]

  • "Mike, the cat who assisted in keeping the main gate of the British Museum from February 1909 to January 1929", R. Clay & Sons, Ltd., Bungay. Suffolk

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Animals: Budge on Mike", Time magazine, January 30 1930, retrieved 16 June 2009
  2. ^ a b "Foreign News: Cat Mike", Time magazine, April 8 1929, retrieved 16 June 2009