Meet the Catman, Dr. Harold Sims, a retired college biology professor and passionate cat advocate who opened the American Museum of the House Cat and Catman 2 Shelter in Sylva, North Carolina, 22 years ago. On the way back from a recent business trip to Atlanta, GA, I decided to use my impeccable navigation skills to find my way home instead of my GPS. What this got me, was lost, in the best kind of way. On my drive through the Blue Ridge Mountain Range, which by the way is so strikingly beautiful, I passed through this small business district and a sign flashed in my peripheral vision.
I had to turn around to make sure I read correctly. Sure enough, there nestled on a little wooded lot, colorful against a backdrop of pine covered mountains, was the American Museum of the House Cat. I HAD to see it.
If I’m honest, the first thing that went through my mind upon entering, was judgemental and rooted in American stereotypes, “What kind of strange individual starts a museum of house cats?” I envisioned an the old cat lady, who smells like amonia and carries cat treats in her purse. I was in for quite a surprise and the universe taught me a valuable lesson about having preconceived notions. The woman at the desk introduced me to Harold, a soft spoken and gentle fellow. He guided me down a hallway and into the museum area. He proceeded through the museum, happily explaining and sharing the history of each part of his personal collection of cat memorabilia. Who knew the cat was representative of so many products, services, games, etc, over the years?! Harold has in his collection everything from cat dolls, to cat games, cat carousels, to cat mummies, even a petrified cat, both historically certified to be authentic. So why would a man dedicate the last 30 years to collecting cat things?
Dr. Harold Sims’ lifelong passion for cats and their care, I’m sure stems from his education and profession as a biology professor. He decided to display his 30 year collection by opening the American Museum of the House Cat in order to raise funds for operation of the Catman 2 no-kill, cage free shelter he operates, as well as spay and neutering of the animals to prevent over population and euthanasia. This intelligent and kind hearted man lives his purpose, educating the public on spay and neuter, caring for cats and giving them a safe place to live out their lives, free of cages, and sharing his collection of cat memorabilia with cat lovers from all over the United States. If you’re ever in Sylva, please stop by and say hello, leave a donation and check out the American Museum of House Cats. If you’re in the market to adopt, you can contact the shelter for more information on giving one of the 60-80 cats housed at Catman 2, a forever home. You can check out their website at http://www.catman2.org/