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Cats - Advertising Mascots

Morris the CatMorris 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."

However, Morris' 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 Daniels.

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.

Cover Photo for 'Morris: An Intimate Biography'
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 Mix Cat"

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