Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Cat Stays in the Picture

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that it's dogs, dogs, dogs, everywhere I look. Dogs have been trendy and popular for far too long. Like, centuries. For one thing, dogs are always on TV, which may partly explain why I rarely watch any. Even when they aren't being trotted around in Madison Square Garden, they're all over the tube. Even the Downton Abbey titles feature a close-up tracking shot of Lord Grantham's retriever's homely backside as she ambles toward the house, which I find in poor taste. (Lady Violet has a cat. Sensible woman.)

I also find dogs in too many books and movies — like that little terrier who stole every one of his scenes in The Artist and then stole the Oscar Best Picture acceptance speech. And dogs are relentlessly used to advertise everything from Ralph Lauren to Bud Light.

Cats tend to appear in ads for cat food, litter, and allergy medications, and very little else these days. I think this is wrong, but I understand the reason behind it: dogs will always appeal to the lowest common denominator, while cats are a more sophisticated taste. Cats are for snobs, like people who go to college. In America, dogs are country-western while cats are... Chopin.

But even so, the greatest advertisements have had cats in them. In Paris in the 1890s, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen raised advertising to an art with his Art Nouveau posters. No one has ever done it better:

Then there's my vote for the most creative commercial of all time, EDS's "Herding Cats." I'm not saying it was an effective advertisement, because I've seen it twenty times and I still can't remember the name "EDS" nor have a I clue about what they mean when they say, "We bring together information, ideas and technologies, and make them go where you want." Does that mean they sell iPads? I have no idea; I'm too busy laughing. That commercial has genius storytelling and humor in every frame. And even if I can never remember their name, I do know that, whoever they are, they are very cool for having given the green light to such a brilliant, crazy project.

Speaking of cool and crazy, IKEA's version of Herding Cats is also unforgettable. IKEA is not my style, but I admire them for their cattiness.

After a long dry spell with no cat media worth getting excited about, I was pleased to see cats cleverly featured in Anthropologie's March catalog. I hope this is the cutting edge of a new, non-dog trend:


  1. Have you seen this collection of famous painting improved by cats. I would love to hear some feline opinions of these.

  2. We discovered these artistic Japanese works back in September:

    Possum is too jealous of that orange tabby to comment much. He would like to appear as the Madonna in a Florentine painting and star in a Sargent portrait of a dandy. He mostly objected to the comments, where people complained that the cat looks fat and unhealthy. Some cats are just well-upholstered and big-boned, says Possum.

  3. After reading your post yesterday, I thought about you when my daughter showed me the following:

    Dog diary versus cat diary

    It's hilarious!


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