We live in an age when a great many people are being supported by their cats, and I can’t help resenting the fact that I’m not one of them. As a middle-aged cat lady, I naturally follow a great many feline celebrities (“celebucats”) on the variety of online forums available to them: Pudge and Oskar and Hamilton the Hipster Cat on Instagram; Tom Cox’s @mysadcat, @mysmugcat and @myswearycat on Twitter; Hallmark’s Happy the Cat on Facebook.
(Side note: Hallmark has named both its cat and dog mascots Happy, which suggests either laziness or astonishing lack of imagination in the network’s branding team.)
There are also the countless thousands of cat-themed websites, vines, YouTube channels, .gifs, memes and Pinterest boards. There may even be cat-oriented Tinder accounts, though I’m too nice a girl to find out.
Typing “cats” into the search engine on YouTube generates 3.7 million results. If you set out to read every entry on the Lolcats I Can Haz Cheezburger site, you would die of old age long before you reached that very first, Alpha Burger Cat. The originators of that site sold it for $2 million in 2007.
As far as I can tell, the young woman who owns Pudge – one of my favorite celebucats – derives her living entirely from her laid-back Persian. Besides sales of Pudge-themed memorabilia (often also featuring doughnuts, oddly enough), Pudge rakes in the dough(nut) as a celebrity guest at cat conventions (yes, they are a thing). I suspect Pudge would rather stay at home in her Pudge Pod or snoozing peacefully on her doughnut-shaped pillow than travel from Edmonton to L.A. doing interviews and meet-and-greets. But honestly, this cat is so weirdly relaxed that she probably doesn’t mind the fuss, or perhaps even notice it.
And that’s one of the things that is so irksome about celebucat culture. Its biggest stars don’t actually do anything to merit their fame. They might as well be Kardashians. Indeed, cats don’t even have to be living to be famous; I follow an Instagram account called Merlin’s Moments. Though the titular Merlin disappeared from home shortly after I started following him, and his dessicated corpse is no doubt laying in a ditch somewhere, Merlin’s Moments persists. Cash Cats, which consists of cats lying and sitting on currency, sometimes surrounded by weapons (I don’t get it), has more than 112, 0000 followers.
The whole point of this rant is … why aren’t my own felines pulling their considerable weight? True, they don’t sport handlebar mustaches or look grumpy or eat cheeseburgers. But they are good and pretty cats. One of my previous cats, Jeffrey, even had a trick: when you scratched him near the base of his tail, he’d tuck his head between his front legs and perform a perfect somersault. Now tell me THAT’S not worth some money. Sadly, I never got the chance to preserve Jeff’s unique gifts on film before he “crossed the Rainbow Bridge” (cat-lady-speak for died) last year.
I suppose I’d have to put some effort into promoting my cats if I really wanted to exploit them for filthy lucre. Instead, I’ve decided to adopt the stance that letting your pets support you is shameful and wrong, and I’ll tuck my DVD of “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas” in the back of my closet and never look at it again. I will continue to toil in obscurity to provide my cats with the lavish lifestyle to which they, the freeloaders, have become accustomed. And I will tell them, quite truthfully, that they are as clever and beautiful as any of those LOL cats. So there.