Those Climbing Cats

September 26, 2018

Fran Lane

Do you recognize these? As kids growing up in Baltimore, my sister May and I would play a game counting these climbing cats mounted on rowhouses on our way to our grandmother’s house in Highlandtown. When my husband first moved to Baltimore, he asked “What’s up with the climbing cats?” And so the search began. I called garden centers, antique shops, and salvage companies in search of the climbing cats. No one had a name for them or even knew where to obtain one. Thanks to the internet, we now have an answer.

They are called Camark cats made by Camark Pottery.  Camark Pottery was a pottery established in 1926 in Camden, Arkansas that became known worldwide. Camark went on to bring innovative products with the contribution of great artists. Jack Carnes, one of the Camark Pottery founders, returned from European trips with wares that served as inspiration for new Camark products. The Camark hanging cat drew inspiration from France, where life size terra cotta cats were placed on roof tops throughout Paris and the French county side to ward off mice and rats. In the U.S. Camark cats were huge sellers in the 1950’s and 1960’s and were hung on houses, trees, and mounted on roofs. Keep an eye out for them as you drive around town.