If there’s one thing the internet isn’t short of, it’s pictures of cats. Every variety of image, documenting weird feline poses or photoshopping spider legs onto furry bodies, is in wide circulation, bombarding social media or easily searchable with a key quick keystrokes. Somehow, within this world of plenty, The Library Of Congress has managed to stand out by offering a special gallery of royalty-free cat images from its collection.
The selection, spotted by the keen, glowing eyes of Twitter user @tenzochris, is curated by the LOC, pulled, we must imagine, from some great underground vault filled with both rare old images and print-outs of every historically important iteration of the Cheezburger cat meme. With a weirdly derogatory use of quotation marks, the page informs us that the gallery was drawn from “staff ‘experts’ [who] contributed their favorite photos, posters, & illustrations.”
Some are just the expected old photographs and illustrations of cats, but a handful of the pictures are really something special. Take, for instance, “Evolution Of A Cat-Cher,” a sort of precursor Animorphs cover that shows a cat transforming into a squat, baseball-playing man with a mustache.
Here, too, is “What George Asked The Cat,” which elevates a straightforward drawing with a mysterious title that forces us to wonder what sort of secret wisdom, exactly, this suit-wearing child sought from a pet sitting imperiously on its chair-throne.
There are other good illustrations, like a beginner’s level anatomy lesson focused on pupils and scratchy tongues and a military recruitment poster featuring a blood-frenzied hellcat, but it’s worth calling attention to some of the most intriguing photographs included here, too.
Chief among them is this 1936 photo of a cat dressed up in Viking gear as if it’s about to star in Wagner’s Die Walküre. (We must hope, despite so much worrying evidence, that the cat isn’t a Nazi sympathizer.)
There’s also a cat listening to swing music performed by Sam Donahue’s band in 1946.
And, for good measure, here’s “In The Rogue’s Gallery,” which sees a cat wearing little spectacles while taking a photo of another cat, and was probably the height of humor when it was published in 1898.
Check out the entire gallery for yourself for more choice cuts.
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