We Have Always Loved Cats
This post is written by former archives student assistant, Alex Iacono.
In February of 1941, The San Antonio Light published an article titled “Cat, 12, Eats Birthday Cake,” a surprising addition to news coverage at the time. With World War II already underway overseas, and national anxieties high, San Antonians turned to our feline friends for a small break from such tension. The short article remarks on the notoriety of local favorite Bob Magee, the cat, who was often seen in the windows of the Perry-Magee flower shop.
This was not the first time The San Antonio Light gave its readers a chance to turn to the relaxing power of cat pictures. In November of 1937, the Light ran a short, whimsical narrative of a cat named “Inky” with photographs of his escapade when he stole milk left sitting on a doorstep.
Lighthearted, silly, and cute, we still seek out cats to take breaks from the humdrum of our daily lives. Indeed, it seems we always have. The Light was definitely no stranger to cat photos, where stories of women and their feline companions appeared frequently. Newspapers often employed this trope because of the gendered connotations it represented. If a woman was portrayed with a cat it reinforced the idea of domesticity and motherly qualities.
Not all of these photographs were part of lighthearted stories, but they still show our attachment to pets. In 1939, San Antonio read the story of Mrs. M. E. Candall as she visited the gravesite of her cat who once saved her life from a home intruder.
Clearly our pets mean a lot to us as individuals, and can bring us joy, laughter, comfort, and even grief. The way that we as a society interact with them says something about the ideas and feelings of our time. As a genre, these photographs give a unique insight into our own culture and attitudes about the way we live.