How have felines infiltrated our postage stamps? Assistant Curator Georgina tells us more...

I have never had a cat, much to the disappointment of some of my colleagues.

Here at The Postal Museum, we have been hiring cats each month to come and be our museum mouser. Which led me to notice how many times these felines have appeared on our postage stamps. Here are just a few examples of the cat stamps that have accompanied your post over the years.

Rescuing cats

RSPCA

The RSPCA was founded in 1824 to produce the first animal welfare charity. They were originally known as the SPCA and were given Royal Status in 1837 by Queen Victoria, adopting the ‘R’ in their title from 1840. The below stamp marked the 150th Anniversary of the RSPCA featuring baby animals, including this fluffy kitten.

Stamp depicting a small brown kitten.

Kitten, 20p, RSCPA, 1990

Battersea cats and dogs home

Battersea cats and dogs home was established in 1860 but didn’t move to Battersea until 1871. They started taking in cats in 1883 and have now cared for more than 3.1 million cats and dogs. The stamps for the 150th Anniversary looked at the successful rehousing of named animals.

Two stamps depicting cats that have been rehoused by Battersea Cats and Dogs Home.

1st NVI, Tigger and Button, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, 2010

Cats in literature

Cheshire Cat

The Cheshire Cat has featuring in literature since the 18th century though many will recognise the character from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The Cheshire Cat presents itself to Alice and talks to her in riddles. It is known for its wide grin and featured in Greetings Booklet Stamps ‘Smiles’ in 1990.

Stamp depicting an illustration of 'Alice in Wonderland's' Cheshire Cat.

Cheshire Cat, 20p, Greetings Booklet Stamps ‘Smiles’, 1990

Edward Lear

Edward Lear was an English poet and illustrator who produced nonsense poems. In 1988 Royal Mail celebrated 100 years since his death with illustrations and examples of his poetry. Two feature cats including one of his most famous pieces ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat’.

Stamp depicting an illustration of an owl and a cat in a boat.

The Owl and the Pussycat, 19p, Edward Lear, 1988

Stamp depicting an illustration of a stripped cat.

‘Cat’, 32p, Edward Lear, 1988

Big Cats

WWF

The World Wildlife Fund was founded in 1961 by a group of wildlife experts. Their aim was to raise money to help animals and the environment. The set of stamps produced in 2011 featured striking close-ups of the endangered animals’ faces.

Stamp depicting the face of a Siberian Tiger.

Siberian Tiger, 1st NVI, WWF, 2011

Ice Age Animals

The Sabre-tooth tiger was known for it’s piercing upper-canines which were used to tear through prey. These are prominently featured in Andrew Davidson’s wood engraving design for Ice Age Animals of 2006.

Stamp depicting a black and white illustration of a Sabre-tooth tiger.

Sabre-Tooth Tiger, 1st NVI, Ice Age Animals, 2006

Don’t forget to look out on our website and social media to see who will be crowned our next museum mouser #jobsfurcats #catsinhats.

– Georgina Tomlinson, Assistant Curator of Philately.