North Carolina Now Home to House Cat Museum

Everyone knows the “crazy cat lady” stereotype, but what about a “crazy cat dude?”

The Cat Man of Sylva

Out in Sylva, North Carolina, there’s a guy known as “The Cat Man” and he certainly lives up to that name.

His real name is Harold Sims, a retired biology professor, and he has devoted his retirement to cats. He built a no-kill cat shelter adjacent to his home, which has rescued over 3,000 cats so far. But he has now created an entire museum dedicated to domesticated house cats.

The American Museum of the House Cat is Now Open

Opened on April 1, The American Museum of the House Cat features an extensive collection of all things house cat related. And while it’s not the only cat museum in the nation, it’s the only one honoring strictly house cats.

America’s Largest Private Collection of Cat Items Benefits Shelter

Sims constructed the museum as a way to bring attention to his no-kill shelter, and raise funds for it. All money brought in by the museum will benefit the shelter. The staff is all volunteer, and tours are self-guided. But on most days, Harold Sims will be there to share information about items that capture your interest.

For over 30 years, Sims has been collecting these items, and his collection filled all of his garages, outbuildings, and most of the rooms inside his home. When visiting the museum, you will find a vast array of over 10,000 artifacts, like vintage advertising featuring cats, a hand-carved carousel cat, antique automated toy cats from the 1890’s, and even a petrified cat pulled from a 16th-century English chimney. Yes, like a real-life cat frozen in time. It even still has whiskers.

“My mission now is to display my collection in a museum where these items can be shared and enjoyed by all cat lovers, and provide a place where everyone can learn more about the house cat,” Sims wrote. “The museum will be an educational institution where one can learn the history of the house cat, its place of origin and migration all over the world, and how the cat has interacted with humankind throughout the ages.”

Visiting the Museum

If you’re interested in visiting the American Museum of the House Cat, it’s in Sylva, NC, which is 160 miles northwest of Charlotte, and less than an hour outside of Asheville. It’s located at the Old School Antique Mall off of Highway 441, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Adult admission is $7.50, $2 for children under 12, and kids under 6 get in for free. Cats on leashes are welcome, as are small dogs. Other critters are allowed at the discretion of the owner.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm. They’re closed on Mondays, but private tours are available with advanced notice.