the Cat - The epitome of the spoiled, pampered pet, Morris the Cat
(first appeared in 1968) was the fifteen-pound orange-striped tabby with dark
green eyes and a torn eyelid who entertained cat lovers everywhere as the feline
spokescat for the 9 Lives Cat Food Company. Morris' philosophy on life?: "The
cat who doesn't act finicky soon loses control of his owner."
real life was not always as luxurious as in the commercials. This cute kitty,
previously named Lucky, spent part of his life in the Hinsdale Humane Society
Animal Shelter in Lombard, Illinois until Bob Martwick, an employee of the Leo
Burnett Advertising Agency rescued him and turned Morris into a major TV star.
Then, by combining the raw animal talent of their newly adopted waif with the haughty
voice of human John Irwin, the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency created one of the
most successful television ad campaigns in history.
Called "the Clark Gable of cats," Morris appeared in the movie Shamus (1972);
and was even the subject of a book "Morris: An Intimate Biography" (1974) by Mary
In the 1980s, Morris the Cat authored the books "The Morris Approach: an
insider's guide to cat care" (1980); "The Morris Method" (1980), about new pet
owners and "The Morris Prescription" (1986) about cat healthcare.
Morris has also
appeared on the cover of Cat Fancy's 30th Anniversary issue in 1995 and on the
cover of the 1996 book Good Mousekeeping by Ilene Hochberg.
Morris: An Intimate Biography
Over the years Morris became a darling of the media. In 1983, Time magazine
declared Morris "The Feline Burt Reynolds." US magazine called Morris the
"Animal Star of the Year" (1982-84).
Morris has also been the recipient of a
number of awards including PATSY (The Picture Animal Top Star Award) from the
American Humane Society (1972 & 1973) and The Cats' Meow Award bestowed by the
New York Animal Medical Center in 1992.
One year earlier, Morris hosted "Morris'
Salute to America's Pets," a primetime TV special sponsored by Heinz Pet
Products that spotlighted great pet relationships and deeds.
The original Morris reigned as king of the kitty commercials from 1969 until he
was dethroned by death in 1975. He was replaced by Harry the Cat. The current
Morris the Cat lives in Los Angeles with his handler and companion, Rose Ordile,
the cat's official trainer.
TRIVIA NOTE: Morris the Cat campaigned to be elected President of the United
States in 1988 and again in 1992. Although popular, with great name recognition,
Morris lost his bid for the presidency. Had he won, however, I wonder would he
have kept a human as the official White House pet?
As for being the President,
the Secret Service would have loved Morris. After all Morris had 9 lives, so if
someone harmed him, Morris could use his other 8 Lives as backup and still
remain the Commander in Chief of the country.
A rival competitor to the Morris commercials was the Meow Mix commercial
entitled "Singing Cat" created by the Della Femina, Travisano & Partners in
1972. That TV spot featured a cute orange tabby singing the now classic lyrics
"Meow, meow, meow, meow..." See also - "Meow
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