The Cat Pack

Quirky felines have gone past viral status to become legitimate celebrities. Now how will they use their fame?

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Clockwise from left: No No No Cat, Colonel Meow, Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat, Maru, Luna the Fashion Kitty, and Henri le Chat Noir
GUARDIAN ILLUSTRATION BY JEN OAKS

caitlin@sfbg.com

PETS Lil Bub does not do corporate endorsements.

"I prefer going to my local pet store, so why would Bub endorse Petco?" says Mike Bridavsky, owner of the angel-faced, wide-eyed, underbite-blessed cat from Bloomington, Indiana who is one of the most prominent members of the Cat Pack, a term Bridavsky coins during our phone interview for the cadre of felines currently owning the Internet.

Who's your favorite Internet cat? Surely you have one. Maybe it's Maru, the Japanese Scottish fold with a panoply of oddly calming videos showcasing his cardboard box fixation.

At some point, surely, you've felt a kinship with that bubble-eyed scowlface Tardar Sauce, a.k.a. Tard, a.k.a. Grumpy Cat, a.k.a. 2012's answer to the "Hang in there, baby!" poster cat.

If you're into indie, you may hearing the meows from one of the lesser-known web celebs. Hermosillo, Mexico's tutu-wearing Luna the Fashion Kitty, perhaps? Or Russia's elusive Marquis of No No No Cat fame? Internet encyclopedia Knowyourmeme.com lists origin stories for 403 cat memes.

You're under a rock with poor wifi coverage if you haven't noticed: Though George Takei, gay marriage, and Jon Hamm's penis are this moment's runners-up to the throne, as the song goes, the Internet is made of cats. And some of those cats are making serious money.

Bridavsky rented out his recording studio as his primary source of income before photos of Lil Bub went viral and Vice shot the upcoming documentary based around his and Bub's trip to the Internet Cat Video Festival in Minneapolis (a fest that is coming to Oakland May 11, more on that later.) He says he spends the long hours required to manage the career of a furry Internet luminary because of the sheer joy Lil Bub brings to the world.

 "Bub's always naked, she doesn't wear stupid outfits." Owner Mike Bridavsky tries to communicate his famous cat's natural personality, unembellished.  Photo by William Winchester Claytor

"People are like, 'thank you for posting pictures of your cat, she gets me through my day,'" he says.

Located at the center of the hype storm as they are, the Cat Pack owners are hardly the ones to go to for explanations for why their beasts have become the Internet's most important meme (sorry Beyonce.) Sure, they were the ones who posted the video or pics of their cat to the web initially — but most never expected to become part of a zeitgeist. 'Net viralty is a mystery even to its anointed.

When Bub's image started hitting aggregator sites like Buzzfeed and TheFW, "I was like, wow, she really has this effect on people," Bridavsky says. It's clear from speaking with him that he's legitimately in awe of the little cat, who lives with dwarfism, bone disease that limits her mobility to an army crawl, "weird toes," and no teeth.

"She's had this effect on me since I got her, but I didn't know it would transfer through photos on the Internet," Bub's owner opines. "She always looks like she's in awe of what's happening — like she's from another planet and she's seeing everything for the first time."

Comments

Motherfckin COLONEL MEOW!

Posted by James on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

Yes. All the way

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

Two more to consider:
Foster Dad John's livestream of fostered kitten litters (The Critter Room on Facebook) and Sygmond the Grey who belongs to a professional photographer and was recently featured on Buzzfeed. The owner doesn't have a separate page or website for Sygmond yet, but she should. I can't actually own cats, so I love to see some of my favorites on my Facebook feed every day. :)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

Where is Henri Le Chat Noir?!

He is the best - far more insightful and witty than many of the others. Some of his You tube videos have over 2 million hits... I'm not the only one who'll be disappointed he isn't on this list!

Posted by Caroline on Apr. 09, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

Thanks for your vigilance.

Posted by caitlin on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 7:51 am

I agree, Caroline!

Posted by Sandra H Howerton on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

he's right there on the cover picture

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

Nora the Piano Cat.

Runners-up: Casey & Sassy of The Cat Diaries.

Posted by Splah on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:57 am

I especially love the illustration. I'm a big fan of Luna the Fashion Kitty and some of these other kitties. But I don't think she would ever date a smoker, even one as charming as Henri. ;)

Posted by Angie on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 11:33 am

Henri, le Chat Noir, the existentialist cat, is my favorite.

Posted by Sandra H Howerton on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

Love that you highlighted Luna the Fashion Kitty's work to help homeless and abandoned cats. She has been an incredible help in raising awareness about our Los Angeles rescue group, Helping Persian Cats.

Posted by Dawn on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

Bub doesn't wear "stupid outfits"; she expresses herself naturally and is therefore cool, he says. Luna wears lovely outfits, but her Momma doesn't disguise herself with multiple tatoos. :)

Posted by Anna J. Shelton on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

Just showin' some love for Lil Bub and her dude's awesome tattoos. Note to dude: don't read comments. You are da best.

Posted by Friend of Bub on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:33 pm
CH

My cat has cerebellar hypoplasia which is one of if not the main reason I have him with me. He reminds me of myself :)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

I love Bub and Grumpy Cat, but I also love Anakin, the two-legged cat and all of Engineer Paul Klusman's cats.

Posted by Bonnie Half-Elven on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

Nice article on the cultural phenomenon of Internet cats. I particularly love Luna, Grumpy Cat and Maru, but love to look at them all. It's a shame that someone with so many Facebook likes feels it necessary to take a slam at Luna's wardrobe. That purrson might want to learn to be as gracious as his cat.

Posted by Guest Jayne on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

Amen!

Posted by Anna J. Shelton on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

I'd never heard of Luna before reading this article, so I didn't assume he was talking about her; I think he was referring to any clothing on any cat. Anyway, I was a little disappointed to find out that Bub's owner is kind of a self-righteous assh0le.

One of my favorite YouTube cats is Earl. He's based in Japan and like Maru, his owner is never on camera. His videos collectively have millions of views, but I never see him mentioned in articles like these. A lot of people will probably recognize him, even if few actually know of his YouTube page or what his name is:

http://www.youtube.com/user/DekoniM/videos?view=0&sort=p&flow=grid

Posted by Lee on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

I love Luna and she rocks in her fashions. There is no reason for Lil Bub's (whoever that is) owner to be so nasty because he does not dress her up.

I would like to point out that Grumpy Cat is a female; I know some women wear ties but you made her look like a male cat with sleeves rolled up. She has a brother named Pokey!!

Posted by Guest Mary Bush on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

Pokey is also adorable ! Someone created a page on Facebook for him too:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pokey/524050320969327?ref=ts&fref=ts

Posted by Lee on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

Lil Bub reminds me of the star cat from the Japanese manga "What's Michael?" which was popular in Japan about 20 some years ago.

Posted by Peggy on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 4:59 pm
BUB

Lil Bub is the best. Just sayin.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

Oh hey BUB's dude here. My comment on wearing clothes was not directed at Luna. It's just not my thing for my cat. I have been in touch with Luna's owner and think they are both great.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

I read the article and didn't feel he was disrespecting anybody. It just goes to show you how people take comments so personal or negatively. Get a grip people!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

It was just too close for comfort--that's why the association with Luna was made. Luna was in the most popular Internet cat competition with Bub and she was in the deck of playing cards with Bub as well. Why would she not be in the Cat Pack (his term) picture and article? Why do clothes have to be "stupid outfits" and why does KittySpeak have to be bad grammar (or incorrect or whatever it was)? I have a grip. Just like to see that things stay straight (i.e., true). "Nuff said. :)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

Come on guys, the naked Bub thing is just a joke - her owner seems pretty nice and I really don't get the negative reactions over something so silly/harmless?

And aww poor Grumpy, people always seem to forget she's a girl

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 9:35 pm

That annoys me too. lol

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 10:47 am

what about lincon the (formerly) quadriplegic cat?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

Solar the Blind Cat and Klaus, his brother are wonderful to follow on Facebook

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 12:23 am

Contrary to popular opinion, Grumpy Cat is actually female - so what's up with the shirt and tie? Maybe feature her brother, Pokey as well?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 10:27 am

... Colonel Meow.

Posted by Rohben on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 10:34 am
Cat

Nyan! NyannyannyannyannyannyannyannyannyanNYAN!

Mu86v

Posted by SoleilSmile on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 10:54 am

are adorable, and those were the specifications from the art director, and yes we know bub and grumpy cat are girls. :)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 11:54 am

Who says even though Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat are girls, they can't wear shirts and ties? Frankly, ol' Grumpy's brand has no room for traditional cuteness.

Posted by Peter on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

Awesome read and also thanks to the comments I now have a bunch of new Internet cats to go check out, thanks everyone!

Posted by Fiona on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

I do like Tard very much. She's a laugh on a piss-poor day! But the undisputed Queen of the Internet is.............Luna, the Fashion Kitty! She is so sweet and has the most adorable outfits around. And anyone who doesn't like Luna, well, they just have no taste!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

Because last time I checked, Grumpy Cat was female.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

cis or trans?

Posted by marcos on Apr. 29, 2013 @ 5:53 am

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