Cats have a regal bearing that seems to have fascinated human beings throughout history. Bastet, a feline goddess, was an important deity in ancient Egypt, most commonly represented by a sitting cat staring straight ahead. A bronze statue of the worshipped feline dating back to 600 B.C. is one of the highlights of the American Museum of the House Cat, which has hundreds of exhibits dedicated to the beloved species.
Founded in April 2017 by the local “Catman” Harold Sims, the museum focuses specifically on the house cat, the domesticated pet. The museum features cat memorabilia collected by Sims over three decades: A petrified cat rescued from a 16th-century English fireplace, a hand-carved kitty carousel, antique cat toys, and cat beer steins are all on display.
The retired biology professor and his wife Kay set up a no-kill cat shelter in 2002 right next to their home in Sylva, North Carolina. The museum was conceived as a way to share their vast cat-themed collection with feline lovers, document the history of human-cat interaction, and raise money for the shelter. Most days, Sims is at the museum, adding to the unique experience with stories about the exhibits.
Know Before You Go
The museum relocated in 2020 south just down the road to a larger building. A u-turn is required if coming from the north.
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. The Catman himself is often there and will tell you about pieces. On our last visit, he told us he was in his 80s and was glad to find a place and people to continue on his legacy.