Catsplaining: Are Cats Fame Whores? Let me give it to you straight from the cat’s mouth. From me, Merlin, a cat and this is Mondays With Merlin (tongue-in-cheek edition but real secrets spilled).
And break out the catnip. We just posted our 1500th post! Happy Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving. Layla and I are ex-pat Canadians and this year feel extra grateful. In the spirit of giving, I’ll be sharing some insights about Instagram you may not know about. I hope it puts the social media madness into perspective.
So, cats being media whores. You might think so given the sheer number of famous cats or cats with high numbers of followers. Besides the Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub, there are hundreds if not thousands of cats with high 5, 6 and 7 figure Instagram accounts. New ones crop up every day showing off their selfies and adventures of every stripe.
It can be a heady moment for a cat mom or dad suddenly see thousands of likes for one of their cat’s photos. Its easy to want more and more. A normally well-adjusted person suddenly hears the clarion call of their inner fame whore. Hello. Maybe their cat has the secret sauce to be the next viral video star or get endorsement deals. It does happen. Many do make money as influencers but most do not. I hear all kinds of stories from my mom, Layla who has consulted with cats famous and not so famous for years. It’s a strange case of the shoemaker’s children having no shoes or in this case, small Instagram numbers. Why?
I have a news bulletin for you dear cat lover. The cat is out of the bag.
Cats have zero interest in money or fame. I certainly don’t. Have you ever seen a cat carry a wallet? Pull out a twenty to pay for their cat food? Hire an agent or an accountant? That’s what their
humans servants are for. I’ll admit there are some cats who don’t mind posing for the camera. Bast knows I’ve enjoyed my minor flirtation with fame and admit to a vain streak in my youth. While most cats can be bribed with treats, we know when we are unwitting pawns in the feline fame game.
Yes, dear ones, the fame whores are human and not feline. Ouch. Sorry.
Stalking the Human Fame Whore (H.F.W.) in the wild.
They are easy to spot. The have multiple digital devices, cameras, selfies sticks within arm’s length 24/7/. They stalk their cats mercilessly with cameras DAILY with no respect to privacy or boundaries. Meal time, nap time, potty time. No time is sacred. Flashes flash. Toys are dangled not for sensory enrichment but photo ops. Kitchen cupboards are stuffed with 390 varieties of cat treats. Photos with stink-eye, the back of shame and airplane ears figure prominently. We all know the look of “WTF Human!” when cats glare at the camera wearing a costume they detest but the H.F.W. thinks it’s funny. Their cat making a mockery of us for fun, fame or profit. Band-aids are a commonly seen accessory hiding scratch marks of incorrect play and boundary violation.
The H.F.W. comes in all sizes, genders and ages but are likely to wear t-shirts with cat graphics or logo of their Instagram cat. The humans post cat photos and videos several times a day. Good morning. Goodnight. Good grief. Trust me, there is no cat that interesting but somebody does because they get thousands of likes. In a Pavlovian response the H.F.W. repeats the click, edit, hashtags, share, comment, share cycle and the behavior is reinforced.
The really famous ones don’t post as often because they don’t have to work the Instagram or other algorithms. The really ambitious ones post photos, Instagram stories, videos with their cat(s) with the regularity of a Swiss watch because they are building a brand. This is a fancy word for a business that they or their feline are the face of. The cats just happen to be the vehicle for their ego. It doesn’t have to be a cat. It could be any cute, weird or exotic animal. It’s about making money, getting attention or both. Perhaps they weren’t loved and validated enough as children but there is something missing.
You can spot those driven types by their carefully curated Instagram feed. Everything fits and flows as you scroll down their pretty grids with filters. This is not an accident. Everything is planned and automated with a posting schedule not unlike a magazine having an editorial calendar. They have social media strategies, have managers and P.R. consultants. There are no bad hair days. Those days are artfully cropped or edited. The reason these cats are cuteness catnip and turn the rest of us chartreuse with envy is by design. It’s called aspirational marketing. Making us want they have. You won’t see dirty cat litter pans or dust bunnies under the bed. Just nicely composed shots with good lighting in attractive settings indoors or out. And no, they aren’t taken with cell phones but DSLR cameras, usually.
It’s the reason we live in a celebrity obsessed world where one Kardashian photo can can rack up a million views on Instagram or ditto a cute cat video. We love posting our original content for better or worse and rarely regram videos but did today from @catloversclub to make a point. They have almost a million followers and only share other people’s content. It’s a lazy way to grow numbers but it works and who can resist a funny video of cat squeezing inside a glass bowl for fun? There better be mega treats for learning that trick. The trick is the person who shares the photo or video legitimately with an app, like we did does not benefit us. The link love goes back to the source. The video at the time of this post had @170,000 views in a week. Check it out We’ll be lucky to get 70. And we’ll go back to honest and original content because we enjoy it and don’t care about posting at optimum times. In fact, we do the opposite, even though we know the tricks. *sigh*. It’s just too much work!
Before you think this is celebrity cat trap is a Machiavellian nightmare for cats, rest assured there are lovely exceptions.
There are the cause driven types who want to make a difference or actual shelters (love!).There are genuine cat lovers who only do occasional shoots or the professionals who care, never overwork, stage manage or art direct their cats to death. They respect their moods and let the cat call the shots. The cats look happy and in charge, as it should be. So the next time you’re busy liking pics on Facebook or Instagram, ponder a moment to consider: does this “funny” cat photo look like an unhappy or exploited cat. If so, don’t like or share it.
And while we’re at it, cats don’t care about fancy titles like king or queen or being made director, partner, vice-president, president or leader of any club. Cats are naturally regal but don’t need to wear a crown or any other accessory. That’s enough pontificating for one day. I know I’m preaching to the proverbial meow meow choir. Our readers know better and are too wise to be a fame whore.
What I know for sure is that I was and always will be king, grand poobah emperor at-large. I don’t need no stinking crown but as you can see, indulged the human for this shot. She thought it might amuse or distract me while I was in a bad way. My dear fursib, Coco had died a few weeks earlier and I was in a deep funk. Cats do grieve you know, and we’d been inseparable for 16 years. The silliness and laughter may have helped our moods that day, but what really made a difference was the extra love and attention. Plus Layla is a master of the five minute photo shoot. It’s all about respect.
Nothing material, no money, fame or illusion of power can make up for true happiness, ever.
Hold on to what really counts and hug your cat (if you are lucky enough to have one) a little longer today and enjoy the moment without clicking a pic. Be in the meow.