Finally! A museum celebrating the good ole house cat! The American Museum of the House Cat, just opened in Sylva, North Carolina.
The museum was started by Dr. Harold Sims, who is retired. He is also known as the “Cat Man”. He has dedicated his time and extensive collection of cat artifacts to honor the much loved house cat. And at the same time, his museum helps support his no-kill shelter.
Dr. Harold Sims is a former biology professor. “I have always had a love for cats but could not have one as a child as my father raised dogs,” explains Dr. Sims.
But, later in life he got his chance. “My wife and I purchased a Persian kitten from a breeder because I knew nothing about animal shelters,” he recalled.
Dr. Sims claims his cat was a good one, and lived until 19. After that, he came very interested in cat rescuing.
“Just before I retired I volunteered at a shelter and found I loved trying to match people with a cat,” he told us.
But there was one thing he didn’t like about the place he volunteered. “The shelter I picked and supported turned [out] to be a ‘kill shelter’ when it opened, so I started a cats-only shelter of my own,” he said.
So, in 2002, he founded the no-cage, no-kill Catman2 shelter.
The rest was history. He began his collection of kitty-themed artifacts.
“Collecting items related to cats started soon after and it became a hobby and an obsession,” Dr. Sims said. “I’d always liked to visit museums [and] found there were no [house] cat museums in America.”
Dr. Sims scouted out locations where he could share his special cat collection. The admission he charges goes towards helping homeless kitties. He doesn’t make profit at all. The selected location for the American Museum of The House Cat is about five miles away from the Catman2 shelter.
“Now I hope the museum will help support the cat shelter,” Dr. Sims told iHeartCats, explaining that all the items on display are his own and were not purchased with money raised by the museum.
“I will not take salary for my time and efforts nor will it repay my investments. If all works well I hope the museum will be run by the Catman2 Inc 501 C3 corporation to support the shelter into the future,” he said.
What can you expect to see at the American Museum of the House Cat? You’ll see one-of-a-kind items that include antique cat toys, rare hand-carved carousel cats, and a Medieval petrified cat that was uncovered in a chimney in England. There’s also a display of paintings that include pieces by Andy Warhol, and a bronze cat goddess statue dating back to 600 B.C..
“I found the petrified cat at an auction,” Dr. Sims told iHeartCats. “Other items came from auctions, yard and estate sales, and my addiction to eBay. The search goes on.”
A story by Smithsonian.com explains that the Cat Man has rescued over 3,000 cats though his shelter, and that number continues to grow.
The next project for the museum is to install a TV in the museum that live streams the kitties in the Catman2 shelter.
Dr. Sims’ main goal is that the museum will bring more attention to cat rescue, and start shaping shelters to better serve cats.
“My next dream is to make all animal shelters stop keeping adoptable cats in cages and allow them to roam in open space,” he said.
If you live in the area or you’re just traveling through, make sure to stop by the American Museum of the House Cat in Sylva, 4704 US Highway 441, just south of Dillsboro, North Carolina. Locals will notice that it’s located in the former Old School Antique Mall.