As a kid, I had several Garfield books. They were the one's you ordered through the Scholastic Book Club ad that showed up at school every couple of months. I wouldn't call myself a huge Garfield fan, but even now, I still read through the comics in the daily edition of the Evansville Courier & Press, including arguably the world's most famous fictional cat, Garfield.

Unlike most national days of recognition, I actually do know why June 19th has been declared "Garfield the Cat Day". It was on this date in 1978 that Garfield made his debut in 41 newspapers across the U.S. That makes him 34 years old in human years, which is 153 in cat years (thanks!). Not bad for an animal who eats everything in sight, sleeps all day, and doesn't spend an ounce of energy on exercise. Maybe there's hope for the rest of us.

Since his birth, Garfield has become a world-wide phenomenon starring in countless animated shows, books, product lines, and two live-action films that featured the feline being voiced by the one and only Bill Murray.

But did you know Garfield is rooted right here in the great state of Indiana? Creator Jim Davis was born and raised in Marion, IN about half way between Indianapolis and Ft. Wayne off Interstate 69 in the northern part of the state. It wasn't until Jim left home to attend Ball State University in Muncie, IN and began working for another syndicated cartoonist that the concept for Garfield was born.

Here are a few other fun facts about Garfield to wow your coworkers with:

  • Garfield is based on a real cat. The original, also named Garfield after Davis' opinionated grandfather, James Garfield Davis, was an overweight, grouchy cat that was one of the 25 cats that roamed the farm Davis grew up on.
  • In the early days of the strip, before syndication, Garfield wasn't the focus. He was merely the sidekick to his fictional cartoonist/owner Jon Arbuckle. When Davis realized he gave Garfield all the funny lines, Garfield became the central character, and a star was born.
  • One of the original syndication affiliates, a Chicago newspaper, decided to drop Garfield and replace him with another comic. After over 1,300 angry fan letters and phone calls, the newspaper reversed its decision and has runthe strip ever since.
  • The strip holds the Guinness World Record as the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world. It's presently featured in over 2,600 newspapers around the world.
  • It is read by an estimated 263 million people every day.

Leave your favorite things about Garfield in the comments below.