6 of the Most Unforgettable Pets in History

  • Marilyn Monroe’s dog, Maf
Marilyn Monroe's dog, Maf
Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images

Animal fame has reached new heights in the internet era, but some especially notable pets still managed to achieve celebrity status before the likes of Grumpy Cat, Lil Bub, and Boo — one of the animals on this list even dates back to the first century CE. 

Many high-profile companions reach stardom by virtue of their celebrity owners, such as Mr. Famous, Audrey Hepburn’s aptly named Yorkshire, who appeared alongside her in 1957’s Funny Face. But pets can also become famous on their own merits (or demerits), as in the case of the dog who pushed kids into a river so he could stage a rescue for treats, or the cat who survived a whopping three shipwrecks. Here are the stories of six animals who left their indelible pawprints — or hoofprints — on the world.

Credit: PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive/ Alamy Stock Photo

Babou the Ocelot

In the mid-20th century, the attempted domestication of ocelots — a breed of wild cat that isn’t recommended as a pet — wasn’t unheard of. One of the most famous pet ocelots of the era was Babou, the animal companion of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. The feline followed him everywhere, even famously accompanying Dalí to one of his art exhibitions in a bejeweled collar.

Understandably, Babou was not always a welcome guest. When Dalí once brought him to an art gallery in Paris, the owner angrily told Dalí that Babou had “made a nuisance” on his 17th-century engravings. The artist reportedly responded, “A nuisance of Dalí’s … can only increase their value.”

On another occasion, Dalí tied Babou’s leash to a table at a Manhattan restaurant. When another diner expressed her alarm, Dalí assured her the animal was just a normal cat he’d “painted over in an op art design.” By 1970, Dalí had acquired a second ocelot named Bouba, although she didn’t achieve quite the same level of notoriety.

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