Garfield the Cat Day
annually on June 19th (since 1998)
Wanda Thayer in 1998
On June 19, 1998, a birthday party was held for Garfield the cat at the now-shuttered International Museum of Cartoon Art. The event also celebrated the 20th anniversary of Garfield's comic strip, Garfield. It was attended by Garfield creator Jim Davis, a costumed Garfield, and over 200 guests. One of the attendees, Wanda Thayer of the Boca Raton City Council, proclaimed it to be Garfield the Cat Day. The holiday has continued to be observed during successive years.
Garfield made its newspaper debut on June 19, 1978, appearing in 41 newspapers. Earlier in the 1970s, Davis had created Gnorm Gnat, which did not gain widespread success. Davis realized it was difficult for readers to identify with a bug, but noticed that dogs like Snoopy and Marmaduke were resonating with people and that there was no prominent comic strip that featured a cat. He was no stranger to cats, having grown up with many of them on a farm, and decided to create Garfield and a comic strip with the same name. He named the cat after his grandfather.
Garfield follows the happenings of Garfield the cat, and also features Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, and Jon's dog, Odie. Minor characters like Pooky, Garfield's teddy bear; Dr. Liz Wilson, Garfield's vet and Jon's love interest; and Nermal, a cat who Garfield loathes, also appear. Garfield was born in Mamma Leoni's Italian Restaurant, which may explain why he loves lasagna. Garfield's birthday takes place on the same date that the comic strip made its debut. On the day he was born, the owner of the Italian restaurant sold him to a pet shop and Jon bought him. Besides being a lasagna lover, Garfield is a fan of coffee and of eating in general, but hates diets. He is lazy and cranky, and like many humans, he hates Mondays.
By 1981, Garfield was appearing in 850 newspapers, and by 1982 the number had increased to 1,000. Garfield became the most syndicated comic strip in the world in 2002, at a time when it was being printed in 2,670 newspapers and reaching an audience of 263 million readers. Over time, Garfield and Odie's appearance changed, and Garfield broadened from being just a comic strip to encompassing other mediums.
The comics have been compiled into books, starting with Garfield at Large in 1980. Here Comes Garfield, the first animated television special featuring Garfield, debuted in 1982, and was followed by many others, including A Garfield Christmas and the Emmy Award-winning Garfield on the Town. The first Garfield animated television series, Garfield and Friends, debuted in 1988; the second, The Garfield Show, came out two decades later in France, and then in the United States in 2009. Two feature films with Garfield, Garfield: The Movie and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, were released in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Today, on Garfield the Cat Day, we celebrate the lasagna-eating, Odie-annoying, orange cat that has brought us entertainment for decades through his comic strip, books, television programs, and movies.
How to Observe Garfield the Cat Day
There are many ways you could celebrate Garfield!
- Read some Garfield comic strips. You could read them in a newspaper, online, or in a compilation book.
- Watch an animated television special with Garfield such as Here Comes Garfield, Garfield on the Town, A Garfield Christmas, and Garfield Gets a Life.
- Watch Happy Birthday, Garfield!, a 10th-anniversary special.
- Watch Garfield and Friends and The Garfield Show.
- Watch Garfield: The Movie and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.
- Visit the Cartoon Art Museum or the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.