Part satire, part documentary, part creative tool, our meme collections give the Internet's finest art the attention it deserves. This week: Cat Memes. Read all about them and create your own!
Of all the images on the internet, 43.4% are of cats, kittens, kitties, or cattos,* and 52.8% are memes.** With all this cat & meme content, plenty of overlap is inevitable. The proportion of cats, memes, and cat memes looks like this:
* Not true.
** Possibly even less true.
*** Not a representation of any real data whatsoever.
As the numbers prove, Cat Memes are a realm of infinite possibility. In no particular order, I’ll walk you through nine funny felines over the years, preparing you for the dawn of tomorrow’s unknown cuteness.
The Polite Cat’s name is Ollie, and he became famous in the middle of 2018. His face was quickly popularized worldwide in a Fake Text meme by Instagram’s @livewithflip:
But what emotion does it display? Contemporary Internet interpretations (interpre(net)ations?) range from veiled annoyance or awkward encounters between strangers to genuine politeness and gratitude. Can all emotions be conveyed in this one simple picture? Is Ollie's sweet, silly face the only thing in the world that matters?
Probably. Only time will tell.
There lies a fascinating and rich history behind this heart-wrenching meme. The most popular version of this meme is actually a face-in-hole version of the already popular Serious Cat meme, famous for its policing of Internet foolishness ("I are serious cat. This is serious thread").
Probably the second most popular iteration of the crying cat meme is also a face-in-hole version of another picture, creating a highly meme-able image of a cat crying while lying down on a cushion, as if spilling feelings on a psychiatrist's chaise longue.
Nyan Cat is one of the most recognizable cat memes in internet history. And, frankly, it’s one of the strangest. Chris Torres, or prguitarman, created the animation to combine two animation requests he received – one for a cat, one for a poptart. But why space? Why a rainbow? And why did saraj00n make the daring artistic decision to add the timeless vocaloid masterpiece “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya” to the GIF and create an instant YouTube classic?
Chalk this one up to the Cosmos – we may never know the answers. But the greatest mystery, the most beautiful mystery, is why, why, why do we love it so much? Why does Nyan Cat remain forever stitched into the fabric of our collective history?
Persian Cat Room Guardian
This disconcerting and feline-adjacent (it has also been referred to as “monkey cat”) meme comes from an entirely serious sales listing by the highly talented artist Anya Boz, whose work features detailed mythical mammalian and reptilian humanoid figures. Much of her other work is highly meme-able (she has even created a charming Grumpy Cat room guardian), but none more so than the Persian Cat.
To demonstrate exasperated confusion, few images are as meme-able. And none haunt my nightmares as frequently as Persian Cat Room Guardian.
Rest in peace, Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat, whose real name was Tardar Sauce (middle name undisclosed), was another famous feline, renowned for her permanently grumpy disposition. She passed away in May 2019, plucked from the prime of her superstardom at a tragically young seven years of age.
It’s hard to say what made Tardar Sauce so grumpy. Childhood trauma? Political disillusionment? Neurological imbalance? I have a theory that Grumpy Cat simply had one bad day documented on camera, and due to the intensity of her fame fell deeper and deeper into her public persona, eventually losing all traces of her once-cheerful demeanor. But maybe, just maybe, a glimmer of the happy, optimistic Tardar Sauce remained with the fading celebrity through her final days.****
****I have no knowledge of the individuals involved, and I am clearly getting carried away with my analysis.
Banana Cat makes for a perfect meme format: two easily labeled characters (i.e., Cat & Banana), a strong emotion that is difficult to describe in any other format, and an instantly memorable image. The image has received a boost to its popularity by a Ditty music adaptation with the lyrics: “He not like the banana. ANGRY. Cat no banana.” Another popularity boost came from a corpulent fine-art rendition of the scene from artist Marcos Lopez (“Angry,” oil on canvas, 2017):
Though the image itself is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, the reaction it conveys is recognizable anywhere. Angry. Uncomfortable. Whining. Waaaah.
Smug Cat/Knife Cat
Next up is Smug Cat, and its Knife Cat variation. The original Smug Cat conveys a common emotion, but is nonetheless a terrific reaction picture for all-purpose smugness and arrogance:
The more popular Knife Cat, however, superimposes the face of Smug Cat onto the body of a cat being threatened by a knife. The original Knife Cat picture, like the original Smug Cat, is a simple image, conveying an expected reaction. When the two pictures are combined, however, they display a reaction much more meme-able than the sum of its parts – coolness in the face of danger, self-assurance under the threat of grave harm.
Bröther May I Have Some Lööps
The Fat Cat meme family has various well-known groups. One of the most beloved of these is a picture of an obese cat standing and staring enviously at a bowl of Froot Loops, begging "Bröther, may I have some löops?" The image gained popularity as a feline variation of the porcine “Bröther may i have some öats” meme from 2016.
In situations of Ënvy or Désire for Sömething Øut öf Reåch, this lööps-obsessed catto is your gö-tö meme.
I Can Has Cheezburger?
I'll highlight just one more shining mement in history: the “I Can Has Cheezburger” cat, also known as Frank, ICHC cat, or simply “Happy Cat,” now a relic of Internet antiquity. ICHC Cat catapulted cat memes, and memes as a whole, to an entirely new level of Internet presence, all the way back in 2004, although the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” caption was not added until 2007. The ICHC picture was subsequently used to launch the popular Cheezburger company, founded on LOLCats content and branching out into other social humor sites like Know Your Meme, the Internet’s foremost meme database.
Happy Cat was also an instrumental actor in the development of LOLSpeak, a widely recognizable (but now rather dated) grammatical style prevalent in 2000’s social humor.*****
*****It is worth noting that LOLSpeak paved the way for Doge Speak, a later internet vernacular that became popular with the canine Doge Shibe meme family.