Woman’s Day’s 1964 Gallery of Cat Portraits Broke the Internet Before There Was One


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Woman’s Day magazine

Date: January, 1964
Publisher: Fawcett Publications
Discovered at: Vermont Antique Mall, Queechee, Vermont

The Cover Promises: The only thing that could possibly have soothed a nation shaken just weeks before by the assassination of its president, “Special Feature in Full Color: A Gallery of Cat Portraits.”

Representative Quotes:

Flirt with the manager of your favorite supermarket and then insist that he order all of the low-calorie food you want to try. (From “Weight Watchers Diet” by Gael Greene)

Fifteen years from now … there will be not TV as we know it today: all circuitry will fit into a box the size of a cigarette pack, and the picture will appear on a flat screen hung from the wall. (From “The Fabulous Future” by Hollis Alpert)

Since it’s adorably fuzzy, impossibly cute, and somehow able to predict the specifics of our tech future, you might think that the January 1964 issue of Woman’s Day somehow had to be guest-edited in Japan. But no. It is instead exactly what it looks like: a magazine issue that doesn’t just announce what the future will be like: It actually resembles that future.

Just pages after the article “Your Fabulous Future” predicts that mothers will carry “a pocket device” with a “pocket radio-television-telephone” that will “enable her to survey her children no matter where they are playing,” the prescient souls at Woman’s Day actually demonstrate exactly what–besides America’s children–will most often appear on everyone’s pocket TV/communicators: adorable kitties.

Read the page closely, and you’ll see that the editors dedicate these hawt pix to “cat lovers and connoisseurs” and even “the uninitiated who may one day know the fascination of a feline.” Do not let that language fool you: Even in the early 1960s, before the sexual revolution, owning a cat had nothing to do with losing your virginity.

Woman’s Day‘s cat gallery goes on for four full pages, offering 16 different kitties for your ogling. Sadly, only the spread’s opener boasts that red-carpeted pussycat brothel look. The next two pages instead opt for the look of puzzles your aunt might do:

Fortunately, the editors abandoned the paint-by-numbers aesthetic for the gallery’s last four cats. This batch includes, in the upper left corner, a rare breed with the ability to match its eyes to the environment behind it.

Also, on the bottom right: The even rarer floating, legless hovercat, who buffs along floors like a Roomba.

That’s all the kitties that the edit staff bothered including, but the ad folks, to their credit, were also in the game:

Just a couple years later, as the ’60s truly set in, that ad wouldn’t seem so innocent. In fact, wasn’t Lenny Bruce once arrested for daring to talk onstage about the difference between Puss ‘n Boots Meat and Puss ‘n Boots Fish?

Here’s an image of profound horror:

Left unexplained by the Velveeta people: Why, behind the burgers, a three-legged jogger is standing ankle-deep in a pool of blood.

Speaking of horror, this article seems to be about knitting for ghost kids.

Finally, like all women’s magazines, this one survived on sales of ads for women’s products. Here is Miss Deb, the sanitary napkin for debutante 10-year-olds (!)–kids who, I imagine, might have preferred a Little Debbie.

For women past the age of cotillion, there’s these napkins, also from Kotex, the manufacturers of Miss Deb. This ad is a little more daring:

The fur! The curve of her face! The only way they could make it more suggestive is if they gave her a bloody nose!

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