A Eulogy to Colonel Meow & Thoughts on Feline Celebrity

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Lil Bub. Stubbs the Mayor Cat. Grumpy Cat. Henri, le chat noir. Princess Monster Truck.

The list goes on and on. Catz have been hazzing their cheezburgers and owning the internet for a long time now. Particularly within the last several years, there have been quite a few felines that have risen to fame and gained their own celebrity. Among my favorite was a particularly fluffy critter by the name of Colonel Meow.

Colonel Meow, marketed as a scotch-guzzling, haughty grump with an intense dislike for the insufferable Boo, died last week on January 29. He had come down with heart disease this past November. According to Catster, despite his fastly fading health, his adoring fans were able to raise more than the $15,000 needed for surgery and a blood transfusion. Of the remaining $20,000 raised, the rest was donated to other sick animals. That’s five grand donated to save the lives of pets in Seattle. Score one for humanity, and two for catmanity. Catity? Just cats?

Unfortunately, after being rushed to an animal hospital with breathing issues on Tuesday, January 28, Colonel Meow died of cardiac arrest the next day, caused by an infection and subsequent kidney failure. Colonel Meow was only two years old. For a cat, even for a rescue cat, that is far too young to die.

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The internet sensation that would be known as Colonel Meow was born somewhere in Seattle, Washington on October 11, 2011 and rescued by the local chapter of the Himalayan and Persian Society after being abandoned by some heartless wench on the side of the road. Before long, Anne Marie Avey (who would be known simply as “Slave Beast) discovered the luxurious coat of fur and constantly furrowed brow and immediately adopted the Himalayan-Persian mix. After a number of blissful months during which she no doubt laughed constantly at the Colonel’s sour moods and frequent death stares, Avey created a Facebook page on August 9, 2012 to capture his undeniable glory. Within a month, there were well over a hundred likes. Then there came the Twitter and Instagram accounts and the infrequent YouTube videos.

Now? Facebook lists 373,000+ likes for the furry Colonel.

He always looks as if he's looking down upon us silly minions.

* GRIMACE *

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of Colonel Meow’s campaign is his entire branding that aligns perfectly with his surly disposition. In every picture, he glares down upon his adoring fans – his “minions” – and barks (rather than meow) out complaints and commands, via the caption, of course. Most posts involve the daily humdrum of his life with a caption that hints at his plans for world domination, or perhaps his annoyance with other animals in his life. His Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles are all still very active and they have an extensive back log of hilarious photos, videos, and comments.

The Colonel’s greatest claim to fame is holding the Guinness record for world’s longest fur, clocking at a formidable 9 inches. This was confirmed by at least three separate veterinarians and a whole slew of very impressed people.

In addition to his “Slave Beast” owner, the Colonel also left behind his goofy-looking female dog sidekick, Boots, and his supposed in-house girlfriend, The Broad. Beyond his closest companions are his slew of other friends and public relations, namely fellow famous felines Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. They each paid their due respects to their dear and departed friend via their own social media accounts.

From my own personal perspective, I am very sad to see the Colonel go. He was always a delight to follow on Instagram and in some small way, he meant a lot to me (enough apparently, for my girlfriend to buy me a Colonel Meow iPhone case for Christmas one year). Though my upgraded phone has outgrown the case, the case itself still holds a special place in the corner of my top drawer. And Colonel Meow has remained a frequent figure sulking across my phone, whether that be on Instagram or Facebook. Each and every time it is a delight. The unfortunate fact here is that I’ll never be able to fulfill the dream of one day meeting him in person and petting that luxurious fur. I said it jokingly once, as if it might mean a lot to me. Looking back, I think I really meant it. Even though the Colonel was never my own pet, he was still a constant source of amusement in my life and the object of much adoration.

Plenty of people might call this whole enterprise silly, to be even mildly upset about a random internet cat dying, particularly when the public also recently suffered the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman. But is it fair to cast judgment and compare the loss of two celebrities that are both completely removed from your own life? This poofy feline, with his scoffing and his scotch, and his thousands of adoring minions, will be sorrowfully missed. So here we are, in a modern world where the internet mourns for the loss of what is the first – and far from the last – loss of a cat in the apple of the public’s eye that we’ve come to know and love.

Ho-humm...

Ho-humm…

One particularly sad realization that hit me only a few days after Colonel Meow’s death was that, in a way, he is the very first in a long line of cat celebrities to we will have to say goodbye to. He is the first of what we might literally call a dying breed. People have always had to deal with the changing of the guard with the slow, unpredictable dying of the generations of artists, actors, and other celebrities. It’s the inevitable flow of life. But now that specific cats – of all things – have come to gather up their own celebrity, what’s it going to be like when their predictably much shorter life expectancies begin to catch up to us all? Will a whole new generation of internet cats be rising to fame within the next decade as we say goodbye to the old? Is the fame of internet cats in general a fading fad, or are they here to stay?

I’d like to think that we’ll keep cherishing these cats, especially after they’re gone. I know for sure that while the Colonel may have left his post, his minions will keep marching for years to come. I know I will be. I’m sure that many discarded phone cases will be tossed away in my trash bin as I upgrade myself into the oblivion of Apple phones, but there’s one case that I’ll always keep, to smile at if ever I’m in the mood to be grimaced at by a domineering and furry face. Stop by one day. Maybe I’ll show it to you. It’s one of the Colonel’s best salutes.

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