Nini the famous Venetian cat
It's funny to me that a cat who lived in Venice over a hundred years ago is still "alive" and well in stories and art.
I just finished reading a recently-published children's book called "The Famous Nini: The Mostly True Story of How a Plain White Cat Became a Star." It's a charming book with nice illustrations; you can watch a trailer on the author's website here.
I first learned about Nini from Jan Morris, who wrote about this "international celebrity" cat in both "The World of Venice" and "A Venetian Bestiary." Nini lived in the late 19th century and belonged to the owner of Caffe dei Frari. He held court in the cafe but was also a roaming neighborhood cat who spent time mousing in the Frari church across the canal and in the nearby Archives of State.
For some reason, Nini became famous, and visitors to Venice stopped by to meet and pay homage to him. He had his own guest book in the cafe, and among the many famous people who signed Nini's book were the composer Giuseppe Verdi, the king and queen of Italy, the czar of Russia, and even Pope Leo XIII. When Nini died of old age in 1894, there was a wake honoring him, with many tributes to "a gentleman, white of fur, affable with great and small."
The cafe is still open today, but evidently Nini's guestbook was sold and is now lost. There is a circa-1932 painting of Nini on the cafe facade which shows the cat reclining with his book and a cup of coffee. Long live Nini!