Since the beginning of 2012, the image of cats has become eternally doomed. Most of us will admit that we’ve spent copious amounts of time Google searching things like “cat memes,” “fat cats,” or the latest cat hysteria, Grumpy Cat, for the sole purpose of a good, hearty laugh. It’s undeniable that funny cat photos are hysterical and always have been, but the cat craze has never been more fanatical than during this era alone.
Face it: from cat photo apps to embarrassing “cat fail” videos, it’s safe to say there is no other animal we rather mock or idolize than cats. Cats are even stepping their paws into the fashion world, for I’ve seen far too many cat sweaters and hipster-inspired cat tees, which I’m partially inclined to purchase myself. Thanks consumerism!
My question is simple, why cats and why now? What is it about these fuzzy or hairless (let’s not discriminate against the sphinx) creatures that are all the rage in nearly every aspect of social and media entertainment?
I’ll be honest, growing up, I was utterly impartial to cats. If a friend or family member lived with a cat, I’d either ignore the fact there was a slinking cat amidst or just give it a nice little pat on the head and move on. Now, if I’m in the presence of any feline figure, young, old, fat, slender, mean or playful, I become completely immersed and admired. I usually squeal uncontrollably as if all the members of One Direction suddenly apparated before my eyes and I have the strongest urge to pet them.
Give this some good thought, the late 80’s and 90’s generation grew up watching TV shows and movies, which represented most cats as villains. Take Lucifer from the Disney classic, “Cinderella” for example. All the name implications aside, this guy was the worst. Every time he would humiliate himself, there was an instant audience satisfaction, which is the typical reaction toward any villain.
The same concept applied for Si and Am from “Lady and the Tramp,” Alice and Wonderland’s, Cheshire cat and Shere Khan from “The Jungle Book.”
Non-Disney cat villains such as Mr. Bigglesworth from “Austin Powers” and Sassy from “Homeward Bound” (ok, she wasn’t a villain, but no one liked her) were also depicted pretty negatively.
My point being, the typical cat stereotype that “all cats are evil” is now null and void. The world has adopted a new appreciation for cats and I wonder if it’s to sustain us from watching poor, reality TV shows and predictable movie plots because let’s face it, we need to find amusement somewhere. Cats FTW!
Photographed by Sam Florio