Felix the Cat, a cartoon character first created in the silent film era, is widely considered the world’s first animated film star. Originating from the studio of Australian Pat Sullivan in New York, Felix first appeared in an animated short titled “Feline Follies” as Master Tom, released by Paramount Studios on 9 November 1919, nine years before Disney’s Mickey Mouse debuted in “Steamboat Willie” (1928).
Internationally there is much debate over who originally created Felix the Cat. Before his death in 1933 Sullivan widely asserted that he had invented a black cat as a film character; however, nearly fifty years later American animator Otto Messmer, who was a salaried animator attached to Pat Sullivan’s studio, claimed that he was the creator of Feline Follies and the character of Felix.
However, in 2005, Judy Nelson, Curator of the “Reclaiming Felix the Cat” Exhibition for the NSW State Library, brought to light that Pat Sullivan had registered a half reel of a film called “The Tail of Thomas the Kat” for copyright in March 1917.