Unless you’re Amish or live in a cave, you’ve probably seen the viral BaneCat video, or you’ve at least heard of it and are studiously trying to avoid it. As the name implies, a cat owner dressed his feline up in head gear and a bomber jacket to act out a hilarious scene. Here’s the famous BaneCat clip, which has garnered over two million views over the past few days:
No matter what you think about the movie that spawned this satire, you have to agree with one thing: that’s one heck of a patient cat. I often dress my own felines in costumes that I get to review for my About.com Pet Supplies & Product Reviews column. Yes, I can usually get them into the cat clothes, but only after marveling at just how stiff they can make their normally supple bodies and how swiftly those normally sheathed claws can turn into deadly blood-letting weapons. Then, after the dress-up session, I have to deal with sulking and mournful “How could you do that to me?” expressions that are only erased by the liberal application of catnip.
Of course, if the owner of BaneCat lived here in Florida, or more specifically, in Hillsborough County, he’d be getting chased around by Bubba in a jail cell right now. Hillsborough takes the crime of cat dressing very seriously. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Checkers and Rally’s fast food chain. Once upon a time they had an advertising mascot named Rap Cat, but thanks to Hillsborough County Animal Control, he’s be relegated to the Advertising Animal Retirement Home, along with Joe Camel and the Taco Bell chihuahua.
If you don’t remember Rap Cat, perhaps the video below will refresh your memory:
Rap Cat turned into an internet sensation, and Checkers capitalized on his new-found fame by printing Rap Cat jersey bags. They encouraged customers to dress up their cats, then make videos of the result. Sounds harmless, right? Hillsborough County officials didn’t think so. They went so far as to state that the county attorney might even seek an injunction against Checkers for promoting animal abuse. If you don’t believe me, the 2007 news story is right here:
Sadly, that meant the end of Rap Cat, and I have to admit I still miss him and his catchy song.
I’ll be the first to admit that animal abuse is an ugly thing and not something to be made light of. However, I just can’t see how dressing your cat in a paper bag can be put in the same category as the real atrocities that people commit on animals.
My cat SheiKra came from Hillsborough County, as I reported in this recent post. It seems to me that the animal control people out there should be a wee bit more worried about people tossing live kittens on the expressway than making them imitate a rapping puppet.
I’ll admit to forcing poor SheiKra to dress up, and in drag even, every now and then for photo shoots. Hopefully Hillsborough officials won’t use the accompanying photo as evidence to storm my house and confiscate him at gunpoint in an Elian Gonzalez-style raid.
If a cat doesn’t want to be dressed in a bag, I’m sure it can make its wishes known. Somehow I just don’t think the Rap Cat promotion was something that needed legal intervention.
Luckily, as far as I know, BaneCat is far from Hillsborough County’s jurisdiction, so he can wear his mask and jacket without putting his owner in jeopardy. In the meantime, I know that Rap Cat is gone for good, but that doesn’t stop me from humming a mournful “Meowma Meow Meow” whenever I pass a Checkers right-hand drive through.
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