Before they were stars: cat edition | Pets | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Before they were stars: cat edition

What does it take to make your pet a YouTube hero? Stephanie Johns devotes one week to finding out.

I'll cut right to the chase: I believe my cat is the very best cat there is. Her talents and charms know no bounds. Also like most of us, when I turn to the internet for some mindless relaxation during the work day, I look at cat videos. But instead of softly chuckling at some doofus cat trying to jump onto a shelf, I feel only anger, bitterness and jealousy. Why? Because my cat is not internet famous.

I've decided to take a week out of my life to fix this egregious error and throw everything at the wall, hail-mary style, in an attempt to make my cat famous before she's cold in the ground.

Meet Uzi

A classy lassie with a sassy chassis, Uzi is an 11-year-old tuxedo cat with lots of stomach problems, a few extra pounds, a great voice and a few missing teeth. She's a former stray with blindingly gleaming coat. Jealous?

Special talents and traits Vocalizations of all kinds, opening doors, standing up, being shiny, quiet resignation, watching television, loud and constant purring.

CV A erstwhile jewellery model, Uzi's likeness has been featured in a painting, a plant pot, a Christmas card, a music video and a particularly stunning fan video—search "Uzi in a Sweater!" and "Uzi in a Sweater 2!" on YouTube. Note: do NOT click on "uzi's turtleneck sweater." This is another, lesser cat and quite frankly they don't need the views.


I decide to cover most of the major social media bases and make a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine page for Uzi. She's multi-platform by nature and I honestly don't know how this works anyway so I may as well try everything. Fan interaction is (initially) low.


Of course all these damned pages need content, that's how they get ya. I begin by posting a miscellaneous crop of photos of Uzi throughout the years in order to give future fans a taste of her development. Smatter in a few tweets in her inimitable dry style, a few alluring Instagrams, some bon mots hashtags and oops it's 5pm. Sorry, boss, but I feel more productive than I have in months!


Merchandising! Now that people have gotten a taste of what she's capable of, I decide to make T-shirts featuring Uzi's catchphrase: "I'm sorry, what?" Admittedly this is simplistic, but I saw a lanyard at the dollar store just the other day that just said "Whatever!" so I sort of feel like anything goes in the world of merch.


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I invite Uzi to do her best impressions of other famous cats. Maru, Business Cat, Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat, Keyboard Cat. The idea is that if I loop all of these attempts together in Vine form she may qualify for 15 minutes of internet fame as the Rich Little of the cat world. The shoot is fraught. Tensions are high.


After yesterday's impression debacle, we make the mutual decision that there's no point in trying to be a star unless you first feel like one. A prolonged brushing session in the sun is followed by a nail trim and a de-gunking of the eyes and nose with a soft cloth, and the requisite star diet lunch of lean protein (tuna). Suggestions of accessories such as scarves and bracelets are shot down, as Uzi's tastes are a bit more humble. She's more like Shailene Woodley than Kim Kardashian in that respect.


Social media engagement has been less than ideal, so we decide to stir the pot a little and get in an old-fashioned Twitter fight. Lil Bub takes the high road, good on him. Honestly, this isn't really Uzi's style and it doesn't feel right. She's never even laid a paw on a mouse. A pawcifist.


I'm not one to throw in the towel this easily, but I was given one week and one week I did have. So Uzi's fame never soared so high as Maru's, so she never experienced the glitz, glamour and paparazzi flashes that accompany Lil Bub's every move, so she may not have poured the foundations for becoming a cultural touchstone like Keyboard Cat—for now, we have no choice but to be content with her big fish in a small pond status. She's worked hard, her efforts were valiant and she still has no idea what the hell just went on. Long may she reign.

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