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Take 5 cats

Explore some of our favourite felines from the collection.


Soldier's goodbye & Bobbie the cat, by Sam Hood, c 1916-1955
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An Australian soldier shares a farewell embrace in Sydney during World War II as Bobbie the cat looks on. One of photographer Sam Hood’s most enduring images, Bobbie the cat was among the first photos shared on social media via the Library’s Flickr account in 2008. Since then he’s attracted over 555,350 views, 6000 favs and 800 comments from cat fanciers all over the world. 

Elizabeth Riddell with black cat, 1946
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A black cat called Celestina always sat on the rocks at the water’s edge, beneath the house rented by journalist Elizabeth Riddell and her husband at Parsley Bay, Vaucluse. Artist Dahl Collings, a friend of the couple, painted Elizabeth and Celestina on the balcony in 1946, with a Port Jackson pilot boat in the distance behind them. 

Felis Australis Souterensis, by D.H. Souter, undated
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Felis Australis

This sinuous and slightly sinister cat became the hallmark of Scottish-born black-and-white artist David Henry Souter. The cat made its first appearance in a Bulletin cartoon in July 1892, when Souter is thought to have created it to disguise an inkblot on one of his drawings. From 1906, the Souter cat also featured on Royal Doulton’s popular Kateroo chinaware series. 

Marjorie Proctor-Brodsky scrapbooks and clippings, c 1959-1964
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Keen to raise funds to address animal cruelty and neglect, Marjorie Proctor-Brodsky hoped to sell photo storybooks for which this album, c 1959–60, was a prototype. A founding member of the NSW Cat Protection Society and lifetime supporter of the RSPCA, Brodsky shared her home with nine felines including rescue cat Vaska, featured here in barrister’s robes modelled on those of Marjorie’s husband, George.

Sketchbook, by Thea Proctor, c 1965
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Sydney-based artist, teacher and taste maker Thea Proctor kept creating and exhibiting drawings until late in her life. Maintaining her sure and subtle draughtsmanship required practice for which Proctor’s tortoiseshell cat Calico, shown here in about 1965, was a favourite subject. 

Margot Riley, Curator, Research & Discovery.

This story appears in SL Magazine spring 2020