The Story Behind Pete The Cat


James Dean 


       James Dean is a self-taught artist originally from Fort Payne, Alabama. His passion for drawing became apparent at a young age, and as a child, you could find James drawing his favorite characters like Snoopy and Yogi Bear. 

James earned his degree in electrical engineering from Auburn University and went on to work for Georgia Power for a number of years. Eventually, he was called to pursue his art full-time and began selling his work at art festivals around the Southeast. 

It was during this time that he began creating paintings and drawing of his cat, Pete. The little blue cat showed up as a character in James’ artwork around 1999 and has been a permanent fixture ever since. 

In 2008, James partnered with Eric Litwin to create the first Pete the Cat children’s book, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Now, James has helped create over 70 Pete the Cat books, including many NYT Bestsellers. 

James is humbled every day by the success that this groovy blue cat has brought him. He says positively affecting children’s lives is his number one priority, and he is grateful to have such an amazing audience to work for. 



Kimberly Ricks Dean



     Kimberly Dean is a children’s author, artist, and yoga enthusiast best known as a NYT bestselling author and co-parent of children’s book character Pete the Cat. 

Before fulfilling her dream of becoming a full-time author and artist, she worked for the State of Georgia, leaving the Governor’s Press Office in 1998 to pursue her art. She began selling her work at art festivals in 1999 and opened a small art gallery in 2003. She dabbles in multiple mediums and enjoys experimenting with new styles and techniques.

She says of her job, “I love what I do!  Work is like going to kindergarten everyday!”

In 2004, she began collaborating with fellow artist James Dean to work on children’s books about Pete the Cat. The Misadventures of Pete the Cat, a coffee table book of James’s art, was released in 2006. Her dreams of becoming a published children’s book author became a reality in 2013 with the release of her first children’s book - Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. She has now written many of the Pete the Cat books, as well as started another series starring her characters Willow and Oliver.

Kimberly lives in Savannah with her dog, Gypsy, and cat, Phoebe. Her children and grandchildren live nearby, and her favorite word is “Lovie,” which is the name her grandchildren lovingly call her.

Pete's Evolution from the 1999 to 2020

Pete came into James’s life in the late 90s and he started incorporating Pete into his artwork. He began by creating minimalist portraits of Pete as a bright blue cat. Soon, Pete began showing up in James’s copies of masterpieces and among some of the artist’s favorite things like vintage cars, guitars, and vacation destinations.

It wasn’t until 2008 that Pete became the beloved children’s book character that we all know today. The first in the series was Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, written by Eric Litwin. The pair self-published before being picked up by HarperCollins in 2010 Pete now has dozens of books with more titles coming out all the time. 

  In 2013 Pete the Cat and the Magic Sunglasses was published by Kimberly Dean. Kimberly began writing for the Pete series continuing on with Pete's personality of a groovy laid back cat with a positive outlook on life.The books now included a whole array of quirky characters for Pete's friends and family. They all went on to be the inspiration used to create the Pete the Cat TV series.

In 2017, the animated series Pete the Cat was launched on Amazon Prime Video. This musically focused show boasts big names like Jessica Biel, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews, and KT Tunstall. Rising star Jacob Tremblay voices Pete himself! The Pete the Cat TV show currently has two full seasons and several holiday specials with more episodes in the works!


The real life Pete the Cat

In 1999, James adopted a kitten from a local shelter. A scrawny black kitten won out and found a new home. James named him Pete. While Pete was a kitten, he spent a great deal of time sitting on James’ lap. James had never spent so much time with a kitten and soon felt as if Pete was his child. 

Then one day the skinny, mischievous kitten stopped running and sat still. James sketched a picture of him and decided to paint it. He puzzled over the color – black? But what if everyone else thought black cats were “bad luck”? So James opted for blue.

Pete became the muse. James started painting Pete doing “cat” things: sitting in the laundry basket, hanging on the screen door, sleeping. Then James noticed Pete with his paw in his coffee cup, so Pete became a coffee loving cat. Pete would sit on top of James’ old VW bug while he worked on the engine, so Pete began driving VWs. The possibilities and ideas were endless.

Then one day Pete didn’t come home. James watched the door for days, then weeks, waiting for Pete to be there. Pete had inspired him more than he had even imagined. Pete’s adventures filled the days, weeks and years.



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