Images courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives
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How Johnson & Johnson Pioneered Cat Memes in the 1950s

In homage to National Cat Day, we're cracking open the pages of the Cat-A-Log, a publication Ethicon produced packed with funny feline photos.
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You could be forgiven for thinking that viral cat pictures were an invention of the Internet. But we have, in fact, been enjoying feline funnies since at least the 1870s—more than 100 years before the debut of the World Wide Web.

In the earliest days of photography, artists like Harry Whittier Frees and Henry Pointer produced postcards of cats in costumes with humorous captions.

We bet you'll be surprised to learn that Johnson & Johnson was also an early adopter of playful cat pictures. The Cat-A-Log, first published in 1950 by the company’s Ethicon Suture Laboratories, is the earliest-known example found in the company's archives.

The booklet was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to one of Johnson & Johnson’s first products, the catgut suture, which was made from collagen. It combined cute cat images with wry captions written by nurses. But the Cat-A-Log also had a serious purpose: It was provided to operating room nurses and doctors, so they could read up on the latest surgical safety procedures.

“Johnson & Johnson has long partnered with doctors, surgeons and nurses because of the products we make, and this was a reflection of that partnership,” says company historian Margaret Gurowitz Margaret Gurowitz,Chief Historian, Johnson & Johnson.

Check out some of the fabulous feline models that graced the pages of the first-ever Cat-A-Log.

Images courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives

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