The search is on for a replacement to Grumpy Cat; a new top dog celebrity cat. The world of cat celebs is fast-moving. It never sleeps. There is nothing on the horizon that I can see and there is a question mark over celebrity cats in general. They are what’s called a ‘meme’, that mysterious word which was born from the internet and which I struggle to understand. For me the word ‘meme’ means a populist fad.
If we are to have a Grumpy Cat replacement let her be a ‘normal’ cat; but is that possible? By normal I mean a cat who does have some sort of physical disability. If you check the top ten celeb cats you’ll see a lot of physical abnormality. I am trying to be sensitive because I love it when cats with ‘disabilities’ are loved and cared for. But should cats with physical abnormalities be celebrities?
It’s a tricky topic. On the plus side, you could say it is a good thing to celebrate disability but on the negative side it smacks of a freak show – the Victorian fascination with freaky humans. It’s voyeurism and that’s not good.
Monty, the cat born without a nasal bridge; Honey Bee, the blind hiking cat; Lazarus, the rescued vampire cat; Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat all had (or have) some sort of physical feature due to a ‘defect’ which contributed to making them celebrities. In the case of Grumpy Cat the ‘defect’, her abnormal facial appearance, was everything. Her entire celebrity was built on that one feature; a grump-looking face which is basically a downturned mouth. And she died prematurely. She was a dwarf cat and dwarf cats have health issues. We can’t get away from that.
I sense that the market for internet celeb cats was so healthy that people who owned cats who looked different, even if the difference was due to a ‘defect’, decided to promote their cat on social media with the intention of making money. That’s the driver behind celeb cats. We have to accept that reality.
Yes, the public love their celeb cats but they are a business. Without the business element – making money e.g. from advertising on YouTube and social media such as Instagram – these famous cats would not exist.
And, yes, I agree that Grumpy Cat gave away some of her earnings but it is easy to put a negative spin on that. This was good for publicity and it silenced the critics. She made $100 million and gave away 100,000 (0.1 percent of earnings).
And handsome cats don’t do it for the celeb cat aficionados. The cats have to have ‘defects’ which make them look interesting.
I apologise for being so realistic and what appears to be negative. Realism can look negative. Grumpy Cat’s replacement or the next celeb cat should be very handsome and very normal. His or her fame should come from what she does. This is where Maru wins for me. Maru is obsessed with boxes, a behavioural trait exploited by his owner. That’s fine for me. Although Maru has a physical defect too: her ears are flat because she is a Scottish Fold. And there is an argument for banning Scottish Folds as the genetic mutation causing the flat ears has secondary effects which affect overall health. It is hard to separate ‘defect’ and ‘celebrity’ in the cat world.
The human is still fascinated with defects which affect appearance because the human is fascinated with appearance. They truly are. Much more so that character. This is also reflected in the cat fancy where breeders always breed for appearance at the expense of health and character (behavior) comes second.
Probably Cole and Marmalade have done the best because they are totally normal. The woman who is their guardian has done wonders in turning them into celeb cats. Can we have more of those please?
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