the best cat account on the internet.

My Twitter feed is kind of a mess lately. Whatever changes Elon Musk made to the algorithm, it resulted in a bunch of posts from randos and brands that didn’t seem to have much to do with anything I care about. Fortunately, though, the pre-musk follow-up that lights up my timeline keeps hacking: Yore cats.

The account is exactly what it says it is: pictures of cats of the past. These cats might be in historical paintings, or accompany a child in their early twentiesThe tenthCentury New York City. They might play with a ball of string or wear a hat. They may be napping, hissing, or licking their sister. The one thing they all have in common is sheer cuteness. If you are a cat lover, this is enough. And even if you aren’t, this account might change your mind.

I am a cat person. (I have three rescue cats in my Brooklyn apartment.) So is Molly Hodgdon, who runs Cats of Yore. Hodgdon lives in Vermont and has two cats, Francie and Fergus. After a few months of finding joy in even the darkest days of Cats of Yore, I reached out to its creator to ask how she got into the historical cat game, her methods, as well as her own cats. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Hillary Fry: Molly, first, tell me about your history with cats.

Molly Hodgdon: I grew up with cats in the house and never really got out of the excited toddler stage where you lose your mind and yell “Kitty!” when you see one. There is a reason they have captivated people for thousands of years. It is very complex and fascinating. It’s elegant but also goofy and undignified. Independent and mysterious, but loving and loyal. Soft and relaxed yet uncompromising in their personal limits. And they peddle on jelly beans for God’s sake! How could anyone not find this magical?

I hate when people say things like “happiness is a choice,” because that’s exhilarating and cruel for those who struggle with things like depression or extreme life circumstances. But I believe that many people’s lives can be improved by nurturing awareness of all the wonderful little things we tend to take for granted. For me, cats are one of those cool things. I am so excited to see Fergus and Francie every morning and very aware of all the ways these funny, comforting and adorable little creatures make my life better.

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You started “Cats of Yore” on Twitter in May 2021. What gave you the idea?

For years, I’ve seen many photo accounts on Twitter that have great photos, but most of them either didn’t include any credit or would deal with some stupid misinformation. I don’t think most people care about that sort of thing, but I hope not. I believe artists and photographers deserve credit when possible and I don’t think there is such a thing as “harmless” misinformation, so while I was getting frustrated with the quality of the photo accounts I saw, I also wished someone would make an account dedicated to historical cats, and it occurred to me that I I should do it myself instead of messing with it. At first it was only for me as a personal repository, but slowly others discovered it, and then there was a kind of explosion in new followers this fall. I think most people are drawn to it for the same reasons – it’s partly about seeing beautiful cats, but also feeling connected to all the people throughout history who have loved cats as much as we do.

In a lot of the pictures she posts, the cats are dressed up, wearing hats, and looking adorable. Have you ever dressed your cats?

I’m sorry to tell you that I’m pretty much a bummer when it comes to cat clothes. I’ve gone through 90 percent of the pictures of costumed cats I’ve seen, but I think it’s still important to include some, because they’re undoubtedly part of our history with them. My big man Fergus doesn’t mind wearing it, so I’ll wear it a few times a year on holidays, but Francie hates it, so I don’t try. It just glides along the floor and flops around, obviously miserable. I already have to give them a lot of different meds and treatments and they are very good at it. I will not charge them more just for entertainment purposes. You really don’t need to wear them anymore anyway! We have filters!

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I especially love the pictures where kids do what their cats do, like milk from a saucer. Do you have favourites?

I posted one of my group recently and this is a good example. It was just a little ginger kitten lying in a box with a sunbeam. I love pictures that express pure love for a cat, without any extra novelty or embellishment. Someone saw this little guy enjoying the sunbeam double cat happiness And the square and they just had to take a picture of the moment.

Cats are often called “potato” and “tatter tot”. In my house, we say “kitty boo” and “fluff,” depending on the cat. Why potatoes?

I absolutely love how each household has its own vocabulary for cats. I think potato got us hooked because it’s cute and round like a cat and it’s also just basically cute and fun word. There are also many variations of the potato, so it’s a great starting point. Small cats could be toes or toes, big cats could be super spots or potato souffle, skinny cats could be french fries, and so on. We also have a fairly complex Nordic-noir-type drama about crime-fighting squirrel Francie in a place called Potato Bay.

Beyond the delightful photo finds, what’s your goal with Cats of Yore?

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As I started gaining more followers, I got really excited by two possibilities: raising money for cat charities and sharing the joy of adopting special-needs cats. Over the years I have been able to raise a lot of money for our local shelters and spay/neuter clinics, and the idea that I can do more good is really, really exciting. And I think when a lot of people want to adopt, they automatically go straight to kittens. Obviously, kittens are adorable, but I’d like more people to see the joys of adopting adult cats, senior cats, and those with special medical or behavioral challenges. The very special mission of my heart is to debunk the myths about a virus called FIV that both of my cats have, and to encourage people to give FIV cats a chance.

Other than that, I would like to offer people a little refuge from rebellion. I keep my political beliefs and most current events out of my posts.

You have no plans to leave Twitter, and you are also on Instagram and Tumblr. But how do you feel about Twitter at this point?

I’m hanging out in a “wait and see” mode on Twitter. I have this relatively small, curated, happy corner where I’ll keep posting cats and try to bring joy to people while trying not to get obsessed with every new story that drops.

Any special cat-related vacation plans?

There was a great new toy wrapped and ready for them under the tree! There are hundreds of pictures of them with Christmas lights and chasing decorations that Francie has swatted and swatted all over the apartment. But probably the holiday plan I’m most excited about is mailing a check to our local shelter for our Christmas fundraiser, which is over $10,000.


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