When a Man Loves Cats, I Am His Friend and Comrade

Mark Twain? Robert H. Hirst? Susy Clemens? Apocryphal?

Question for Quote Investigator: Several books about cats contain a quotation credited to humorist Mark Twain stating that Twain was a friend and comrade to people who love cats. I am skeptical of this  attribution, and I haven’t seen a citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Reply from Quote Investigator: In 2009 Robert H. Hirst who is the general editor of the scholarly Mark Twain Project edited a book titled “Who is Mark Twain?” containing a collection of sketches and essays by Twain that were unpublished (or rarely published) previously.

A vignette dated September 1887 and titled “An Incident” described a meeting between Twain and a young man who was carrying a gun. Twain initially feared the youth was a “lunatic out gunning for men”. Next, he worried that a group of “four sorry-looking cats” were the target. But Twain learned that the youth was hoping to provide a meal for the cats. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[ref] 2010, Who is Mark Twain? by Mark Twain, Edited by Robert H. Hirst (General Editor of Mark Twain Project), Title of manuscript: An Incident, Editor’s date of manuscript: September 1887, Start Page 165, Quote Page 166, HarperStudio: Imprint of HarperCollins, New York. (Verified with scans of paperback edition; hardcover was published in 2009) [/ref]

Aha!—so far from being a madman, he was saner, you see, than the average of our race; for he had a warm spot in him for cats. When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.

A couple more citations for this quotation are listed in the full article on the Medium website which is available here.

Image Notes: Public domain image of painting titled “Wild Cat” by Rosa Bonheur who died in 1899.

Acknowledgement: Great thanks to Karen__Rico whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.

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