Written by Aurus Sy
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 06/15/2021, edited: 10/04/2022
June 19 is National Garfield the Cat Day! Having entertained audiences for more than 40 years, it’s only right that this smug and sarcastic feline gets his own holiday. Here are 10 fun facts about Garfield!
If you’ve ever wondered what kind of cat Garfield is, the answer is he’s an orange tabby. The word “tabby” doesn’t refer to a particular breed, but to a fur pattern found in cats. The pattern can be seen in various cat breeds and can appear as stripes, spots, patches, or whorls. All tabbies sport a distinctive “M” on their forehead.
Published on June 19, 1978, Garfield’s debut three-panel comic saw him and his human Jon Arbuckle introducing themselves to readers. The orange tabby had a different appearance then—he was noticeably bigger and walked on all fours. One thing that hasn’t changed are his heavy eyelids, which have been a constant for four decades. In 2003, Garfield met his original self in a special 25th anniversary strip.
Garfield was born in the kitchen of Mamma Leoni's Italian Restaurant, weighing 5 pounds and 6 ounces at birth. Unlike the rest of his family, who preferred to dine on rodents, he “frolicked in the fettuccine, rolled in the ravioli, and ate all the lasagna in sight.” Because of Garfield’s huge appetite for pasta, the restaurant’s owner decided to sell him to a pet shop to avoid closing down.
Garfield has adored lasagna since he was a kitten and is often seen with a box of the cheesy pasta dish in the comic strips. He orders an average of 50 boxes of lasagna each week and splurges even more on his birthday. He even once said, “With due respect to Will Rogers, I never met a lasagna I didn’t like.”
Garfield’s creator Jim Davis named his famous fictional feline after his grandfather, James A. Garfield Davis, who was named after James Abram Garfield, the 20th President of the United States. According to Davis, his grandfather was “a large, cantankerous man,” which, come to think of it, would describe Garfield the cat to a tee if he were a person.
It’s hard to imagine Garfield being called anything else other than Garfield, but he’s actually known as Gustaf in Sweden. A quick online search will confirm this, with images of comic book covers featuring the ginger kitty and his Swedish moniker coming up in the results. Sweden is one of only three countries in the world where Garfield isn’t Garfield; the other two are Finland and Norway.
The Garfield comics from October 23 to October 28 of 1989 contain the most unusual storyline in its history. While Garfield strips are known for being lighthearted and funny, these ones showed the orange feline waking up to a dark and empty house, forcing him to deal with existential dread and face his greatest fear, loneliness.
Books, TV specials, animated series, films, video games—the Garfield media franchise is huge! The first book, Garfield at Large, was published in 1980 and remained at the top of The New York Times best sellers list for nearly 2 years. All 12 television specials, which were originally broadcast from 1982 to 1991, received Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Animated Program, with 4 bringing home the trophy.
The Garfield franchise has been a commercial success since its early years, earning over $15 million from merchandise in 1981, just less than three years after its nationwide launch. Four decades on, the rotund feline continues to enjoy much popularity—it is reported that Garfield merchandise earns $750 million to $1 billion annually.
Garfield and Jim Davis jointly hold the Guinness World Records title for Most syndicated comic strip - current. As of 2015, the Garfield comic appears in some 2,100 journals in 80 countries. It’s also estimated to be read by about 200 million people today. In 2018, Garfield bagged the GWR title for Most high fives given by a mascot in one minute, which was set during a live broadcast in Japan for his 40th birthday. He managed to give an impressive 194 high fives during the event.
Happy National Garfield the Cat Day! How will you celebrate the world’s favorite orange tabby?
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