The American Museum of the House Cat

While researching your Smokies vacation, you may come across a place so intriguing you’ll have no choice but to visit. You have just stumbled upon The American Museum of the House Cat. This museum, located in Sylva, NC., is the purrfect place to to pay homage to our feline friends.

Housed in an old antiques mall, the museum is festooned with giant metal feline sculptures and murals of the ordinary house cat. You can’t miss it from the road, and you definitely don’t want to! Especially if you are a true cat lover and aficionado.

cat laying on its back.

What To Expect at The Museum

Curated by Harold Simms, the well-respected founder of Catman2 rescue in Sylva, NC, The American Museum of the House Cat is only one of 2 museums in the United States dedicated to the domesticated feline. Originating with Simms’ personal collection of cat art and items, the museum is now open to the public with all proceeds going to cat rescue.

When you first enter, you’re almost overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of feline objects, estimated to be over 10,000 in number. Of course, there are the obligatory cat figurines, stuffed toy cats, and every possible signage featuring a cat. But once you acclimate and begin to really study the displays and curio cases, incredible things start to pop out at you.

Fascinating Exhibits

There is a weirdly wonderful paper mâché mashup of an octopus with a kitty head, a tiny cat orchestra performing in a mini concert hall – complete with a band director and photographer, a kitty carousel, cat masks, kitty beer steins, and cat clocks galore.

Oddities That Will Surprise You

There are also some exhibits that you probably won’t ever see anywhere else. Unbelievably, there is the Medieval petrified cat on display and a 300-30 B.C. Egyptian cat mummy encased in glass.

Feline Art

From cartoon posters to kitty portraits, there is no shortage of interesting feline art. There is much excitement surrounding the arrival of a large metal sculpture known as Scooby Doo, one of the 3 Purr Pods artist Paige Tashner created for Burning Man 2019 to help people find peace in the midst of chaos. In fact, that could also be the motto of the museum itself. Peace, love, and cats.

More Can’t-Miss Museums

The NC Great Smoky Mountains have quite a few fascinating and sometimes quirky museums you don’t want to miss. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian uses artifacts, artwork, and computer animation to tell the story of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum, housed in an old jail, features 8 rooms of gems and minerals from all over the world. And The Scottish Tartans Museum & Heritage Center was established to be a source of “reliable information” on traditional Highlands dress and heritage.

Find a comprehensive list of must-see museums in the NC Great Smoky Mountains here.