Meet Oscar and Orangey, Two of our Cute Cat Handbags

Many of you lovable lumps have asked about the inspiration behind our ridiculously cute cat handbags at Wicker Darling. 

Well I am finally here to spill ALL the tea about our first two wacky wicker kittens.

That’s right, there are more, but I wanted to shine the spotlight on these two furry friends first.

I put a lot of thought into the design, function (and yes, even the names) of these cat handbags - so it’s time for you to learn more about the first two real-life kitties who inspired me, and about the kitten handbags themselves. 

Orangey Cat and Oscar the Cat are not only fabulous wicker handbags - they were actually real, breathing, purring, better-than-human balls of fluff that lived in the 50s. (Yes, even the cats are vintage.) So ready or not, you’re about to hear all about the talented cats that helped me dream your wicker animal handbags into being. 

First, let’s take a look at our orange coloured tom - Orangey Cat. 

All about Orangey Cat - the inspiration for our orange cat handbag

Orangey the cat is a STAR.

I am being absolutely serious here. He was the most famous cat in show business - most well known, perhaps, as Audrey Hepburn’s loveable roommate in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

But that is certainly not all that Orangey starred in. Take one look at Orangey Cat’s IMDB page and you will see he has a more impressive resume than many actors and actresses! Orangey has been in The Diary of Anne Frank, The Beverly Hillbillies, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Mission Impossible TV show and even some Batman episodes! 

Seriously, this cat was more talented than I could ever dream of being! (Though I do try.)

Born for the silver screen

Orangey the glorious marmalade tabby was born in the 1940s and raised and trained by Frank Inn. Frank Inn was the famed animal trainer who brought us big names like Benji the Dog and Arnold Ziffel - the pig on Green Gables. With such a fabulous handler, it’s no surprise that Orangey excelled at tricks and acting, but Orangey truly was a special cat who became one of the most widely demanded feline actors of all time. 

According to the book Cats’ Most Wanted, one of the reasons Orangey was such a successful cat actor was because of his ability to ‘stay’ for indefinite hours while a movie was in production.

Of course, a cat is still a cat, and Orangey was known to be quite a diva when the cameras weren’t rolling. In fact, when off camera, Orangey would often run away...and production would have to be shut down until he was found again. 

A reminder to us all that cats train YOU. 

The most decorated cat in history 

By the time Orangey appeared as Audrey Hepburn’s onscreen companion, he already had a decade of acting experience under his pelt. 

His silver screen debut was in 1951, where he played the main character (and namesake) of the movie Rhubarb. In Rhubarb, Orangey was a millionaire cat who had been gifted an entire baseball team by his late owner. 

You didn’t read that wrong - if you haven’t seen Rhubarb yet, you should absolutely watch it! It’s purrfectly hilarious.

This cat’s performance was so good, he was given a Patsy award (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year) which is the animal equivalent of an Oscar. No no, this isn’t what our Oscar the Cat handbag is named after - guess again.

But it didn’t stop there. 

Orangey Cat went on to win a SECOND Patsy for his hard work in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. To this day, Orangey is the only cat to win two Patsy awards.  

The cat that melted our hearts 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the movie where most of us fell in love with Orangey. It’s hard not to watch Orangey’s acting without squealing with joy. It is Holly Golightly’s relationship with Cat that makes her realize her fear of commitment - she can’t even give Orangey a name!

But Audrey Hepburn herself was not immune to his charms. She said that having to throw Cat out of the cab and into the rain was ‘the most distasteful thing [she] ever had to do on film!’ 

He may have played ‘a poor slob without a name’ but Orangey the Cat absolutely earned every bit of his fame in real life. He touched the hearts of many, including me, which is why I have honoured this icon with a cat handbag in his image.

Orangey’s legacy continues - as a cat handbag! 

I unleashed the Orangey the Cat handbag on the world for International Cat Day 2020. (You’re welcome.) 

This cat purse is orange in colour of course, and he sports a cute little red collar with a gold hoop on it. This hoop can be used for attaching a cute custom name tag, or clipping on Orangey’s money-hoarding friend - an adorable mouse coin purse. 

The Orangey cat handbag is 35cm from nose to backside, 23cm top of head to base of paw and 34cm around his ample belly. He is rather versatile, just like his cat actor inspo, and comes with a detachable shoulder/crossbody strap as well as long leather handles for draping him off of your elbow. 

Like Audrey Hepburn's style, Orangey is a timeless classic. Keep him looking fresh by following our tips on how to care for your wicker basket & handbag.

But Orangey isn’t the only cat handbag in our menagerie. Let me introduce you to the furry little man behind our Oscar the Cat handbag - Unsinkable Sam. 

Meet Oscar - our loveable black and white tom

Orangey may be the most talented cat we know of, but Oscar was certainly the most resilient. 

So resilient, in fact, that it earned him the nickname ‘Unsinkable Sam.”

Oscar the cat was a black and white tuxedo cat who rose to fame during World War II for the simple fact that this cat WOULD NOT DIE. He simply scoffs at the idea that cats are bestowed with the gift of only nine lives.

The unluckiest lucky cat of all time 

If you think you’ve had it rough, you haven’t met Oscar the cat. 

His tale of trial and woe starts on the Bismarck, one of the top-class battleships built for Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine. This ship launched on 14 February 1939 and weighed 41,700 TONS. In short - it was a beast. 

But unfortunately not beastly enough. 

No one really knows who Oscar’s original owner was, or why he was there on the fateful day that the Allied Forces sunk his battleship.

But sink it did. 

Only 115 of the members of the 2,100 person crew survived. And Oscar was one of them. 

Hours after the attack, Oscar was found floating on a board in the middle of the ocean, and was mercifully plucked up by the homeward-bound British destroyer, the HMS Cossack. It was on this ship that Oscar was actually given his name - as no one knew who he was or where he came from. 

He was so named for the International Code of Signals for the letter ‘O’ - the code for ‘Man Overboard.’ 

The crew loved Oscar and considered him good luck, and Oscar himself may have thought he had found his happy ending. But he was wrong. 

The HMS Cossack was badly damaged by a torpedo - and down, down, down she went! 

Oscar the cat TRULY had nine lives 

On October 27th, 1941 Oscar was yet again found clinging to a piece of plank. This cat refused to sink, and so the British officers changed his name to Unsinkable Sam. 

You may think surviving two sinking ships is enough of a tale to tell - but Sam’s story wasn’t done yet! 

He was adopted by the crew of the HMS Ark Royal - the very same ship that had sunk his first watery home, the Bismarck. (Oscar’s life was nothing if not ironic.)

The Germans incorrectly reported the HMS Ark Royal sunk on multiple occasions, but this ship always managed to pull through. It gained a reputation as a lucky ship indeed. 

But Unsinkable Sam was the unluckiest of lucky cats. 

When returning from Malta on November 14th, 1941, the Ark Royal’s luck ran out -and Unsinkable Sam’s third ship was sunk.

But did Oscar go down with his ship? Of course not! 

Did you not hear me? He was unsinkable!

He was found a THIRD time clinging to a floating plank, and described as ‘angry but quite unharmed.’

I certainly don’t blame him. I would be in QUITE a mood if someone bombed my home three times and got my hair wet. Wouldn’t you be absolutely over it? Because Oscar was. He refused to leave land ever again. In fact, he lived out the rest of his days at Home for Sailors in Belfast. 

Oscar the cat lives on! 

Oscar is simply the most resilient and unlikely cat there ever was - and so I created a wonderful wicker handbag to honour him. I released him right alongside Orangey on International Cat Day. Any self-respecting crazy cat lady knows there is no such thing as too many cats - or cat purses. 

The Oscar the Cat handbag is a black and white tuxedo cat just like the real Unsinkable Sam. He wears a red collar just like Orangey, but he has a much more egotistical head (and considerably more girth) than his marmalade cousin. 

Oscar is also a bit more dynamic, with an arched back and swishing tail - perhaps to show how supremely unamused he was at his luck in life. 

Both cool cats have their ears wired on so they can be folded down for safety during the shipping process. Because, ironically, our black cat purses will arrive by ship.

Once in your possession though, our cat handbags simply cannot abide water any longer!!! Please keep Oscar and Orangey the Cat out of the rain - or you will get an absolute earful. (From me of course. Don’t be crazy - the cats don’t talk.) 

Crazy cat people unite with glorious cat handbags

So there you have it! You now know the amazing origin stories behind the larger-than-life kitties at Wicker Darling. 

Doesn’t it just make you want a wicker kitty of your own even more!? 

Newsflash: If you're already a crazy cat person, you might as well join our army of vintage clad crazy wicker bag people too. Wicker cat handbags are sassy, iconic, ridiculously cute and sure to demand the attention of anyone in the room - just like a real cat. 

Any way you stack it, the frisky felines these cat handbags are modeled after are winners. That’s right, you will have a WINNER on your arm. 

And by now I think we can all agree that cats run the show, so I’m sure there will be another style of wicker cat handbag strutting into the home office any moment now. 

Wanna know what we currently have available? Shop our cat purse page and be sure to join the mailing list for immediate updates, you curious cat you. We’re not saying that some new cat purse and *ahem* cute wittle cat coin purse designs are on the horizon, but we aren’t saying that they aren’t. 

June 04, 2021 — The Wicker Darling Team