Before Grumpy Cat, Morris the Cat Captured America's Hearts

Grumpy Cat rose to fame in 2012 and quickly became an iconic representation of the decade's meme culture. Loved by millions, derided by thousands, Grumpy Cat was a popular—if somewhat controversial—internet star thanks to her perpetual scowl and cranky disposition. Grumpy Cat, or Tardar Sauce, as she was actually named, spent years posing as a popular meme, even winning "Meme of the Year" at the 2013 Webby Awards.

As they say though, there's nothing new under the sun—and before Grumpy Cat and the internet became popular, there was another famous feline who clawed his way into the hearts of America. Long before the world was swept away by Grumpy Cat, there was Morris the cat. Morris the cat was the advertising mascot for the 9Lives brand cat food, where he appeared in countless 9Lives commercials. This wildly popular cat first appeared on TV in the '60s and '70s.

morris the cat


Morris the cat was portrayed in commercials as the "world's most finicky cat". The quintessential rags to riches story, the original Morris was found in 1968 at the Hinsdale Humane Society, an animal shelter in the Chicago, Illinois-area. The charming orange tabby was discovered by Bob Martwick, a professional animal trainer working for the Leo Burnett advertising agency at the time— and the rest is history!

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Fun fact: at the casting call for the role of Morris, the orange cat exuded charisma and plenty of charm when he showed his star quality by jumping on the table and walking right up to the art director to give him a friendly head bump. Needless to say, the Clark Gable of cats got the part and a star was born!

Morris went on and became the 9Lives brand mascot and appeared in many 9Lives commercials in the '60s and '70s for 9Lives cat food. Voiced by voice-actor John Erwin (he's also famously-known to be the voice of the original He-Man), Morris the cat quickly became a household name. The orange tabby even got his shot at the big-screen when he had his acting debut in director Robert Altman's film The Long Goodbye and later also starred alongside Burt Reynolds in the movie Shamus.

morris the cat


Even though the original Morris the cat died in 1978 at the old age of 17, there have been multiple Morrises— with all of his successors being rescue cats like the original Morris.

Today, Morris is the spokescat for all animals in need by promoting cat adoption: inspiring countless people and helping cats everywhere find a home. He is still one hardworking kitty— Morris visits schools and launches campaigns to actively promote his cause. Nowadays, Morris only has one thought in mind: to help every cat live the good life.

You can check in with Morris by following him on Twitter @MorrisApproved or dropping by his Facebook or Instagram page.

Do you remember Morris? Share your best memories of him at our Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

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