This is about the famous celebrity cat, Maru, and mugumogu who looks after him, and how the videos are made. One of Maru’s great attractions is his inscrutable face.
Maru’s “owner” (caretaker or guardian or better still “housemate”) has the online username of “mugumogu”. The housemate is a female. I had always assumed the guardian was a man. There you go – wrong again. She seems to live with a partner, perhaps her husband. You don’t see mugumogu except in one video of her cleaning Maru’s ears when you see her body but not her face (photo below from video). If I’d known that I’d have known the caretaker was female. She is quite a petite lady because Maru looks enormous on her lap.
Maru is a male, brown, tabby-and-white Scottish Fold without the folded ears. Sometimes they are born that way. He was born on May 24th 2007. Maru weighs 12 pounds. He looks a bit plump. He’s naturally like this. His face is round and big. He came to mugumogu’s home on 21st September 2007.
Maru is まる in Japanese. It means “circle” or “round”. This must be a reference to his natural plumpness and round face. In fact, Maru appears to be a slight modification from “Marui” meaning rounded shape. He comes rushing with anticipation to mugumogu when she calls his name at meal times. Sometimes she calls him “for no reason” and he comes with joy.
He is good-natured but doesn’t like to be told off. His special skill is to slide into open ended boxes. He likes to play and meows, “I’m bored. Play with me.” It has to be the right toy. He is picky about toys.
One day, while Maru was doing what he likes to do most – chasing – he slid into a box and liked it! The floors are slippery. He learned his tricks by trial and error…..and got faster and faster.
You’ll notice that the box has “diet” on it – a nice touch as plump Maru shoots into it and gets stuck 😉 .
Mugumogu wishes to keep her real name secret or it seems that way. Her videos have been viewed over 200 million times and the famous sliding box cat video has been seen over 16 million times (the video on this page).
She originally shot the video for a YouTube contest which she appears to have forgotten the name of. She wanted to capture Maru’s moments. The trouble was they were chasing each other which prevented videoing.
She decided to hold the video camera in her right hand and moved the box with her left hand little by little which attracted Maru’s attention. It worked well, she says.
She says, “the trick was to open both sides of the box so that he could see the other side and to move the box away from him slowly”.
Then the method is to play together and make it fun. If she needs to get his attention she uses a toy but not food. She still finds Maru makes her laugh.
She uses a Casio EXILIM EX-Z1000 camera for her videos. This is a still camera that can also take videos. She has a Nikon D40 for photographs. The lenses are an AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm zoom and a Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DCHSM. I suppose the Sigma is for low light photography. Indoor photography is nearly always low light so a fixed focal length, fast lens, is useful.
Before mugumogu used the Casio EXILIM for videos she used a KDDI cell phone. She remarks, “I used ‘au’ cell phone in the early days”.
She says, “I feel deep gratitude to Maru, who’s been the most precious and irreplaceable friend to me”.
Although she must have made many tens of thousands of dollars from her videos I don’t see them as exploitation. I see fun, gentleness and love in them. A celebration of the cat. That is my interpretation of the Maru videos in contrast to Grumpy Cat’s celebrity.
A bit more about Maru: because he is well insulated he loves to lie down on cold, hard and smooth wooden floors. He accepts visitors but barely responds to their presence “he acts cool and goes his own way”. He strongly dislikes being held and is not a lap cat.