The (Irresistible) American Museum of the House Cat

We love cats, right? (Right, mom?)

Cat museum 1
Greeter kitty.

A month or so ago my sweetie pie and I visited the American Museum of the House Cat in Sylva. We’d actually just moved to Sylva and I figured out how to give directions to our new house using the museum as a landmark (the directions make no sense outside of my head, particularly if one is actually trying to get to our house, but still. I suppose you could do this giving directions anywhere in western North Carolina if you really put your mind to it).

cat museum harold
Harold is pretty cool – he knows everything about everything in the museum.

Dr. Harold Sims, proprietor the museum, was there eating a sandwich, and when he was done he gave us a grand tour of the museum. The museum isn’t huge but the collection is varied and detailed. All of it is from Harold’s own collection of cat-related art, antiques, and memorabilia that he’s been collecting for over 30 years. He even has a mummified cat!

cat mummy
Seriously, this is legit. Want to read that Cat Mummies book? Place a hold on it!

My favorite things in the museum were the old cat carousel and the petrified cat, for some reason. The petrified kitty was found in the chimney of a house, built in the Middle Ages, and is believed to have hidden there to escape death-by-fire during Pope Gregory IX’s fool campaign to eradicate cats, allegedly believing them to be satanic or whatever.

cat museum 5
Round and around and around and around we go…

We also got a brief history lesson on cat litter, which was really interesting but I can’t remember enough of it at this point to recreate it for you. Did I turn to my handy dandy online library catalog to look for a book about the history of cat litter? I did, but I didn’t find one. However, I did find this intriguing cookbook involving kitty litter.

I asked my boyfriend if he’d like to add any commentary to this post.  He stated: “It was interesting to see the human-cat dynamic expressed through time and culture. The exhibits were artistic and educational. I left feeling good knowing that it was all inspired by a man’s passion to create better lives for cats.” Isn’t he smart and thoughtful (and awfully cute)? Don’t you want to visit the museum now?

sweet girls
Gremlintine and Lola watching the boyfriend set up a dehumidifier. Awfully cute indeed.

The American Museum of the House Cat is a perfectly charming slice of Americana and located within the Old School Antique Mall at 4704 Hwy 441 South in Jackson County, a few miles south of Dillsboro. It’s open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 – 5:00 and Sundays from noon to 5:00. Tickets are $7.50 for adults, $2.00 for children ages 6 – 12, and free for children under six. Any proceeds go toward the no-kill cats-only Catman2 cat Shelter in Cullowhee, which Harold started. You can also find their adoptable kitties on Petfinder – look at all those precious furry faces!!! LOOK AT THEM.

(Cats and libraries go together like cats and libraries. As a matter of fact, you can find a few books Harold has written here, here, and here.)

This is cool.

3 thoughts on “The (Irresistible) American Museum of the House Cat

  1. Wow! What a charming glimpse into this unique American institution. God Bless Harold and all the good things he does for cats.

    In your research for this post, did you discover whether cats actually self-domesticated? I’d heard this several years ago, but never bothered to investigate. It sure sounds like something that cats would do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Luke! I didn’t come across this factoid but it does sound about right, doesn’t it? My own kitty-girls re-wild for about 15 minutes every morning at 5:30 just to keep in practice.


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