Let’s Read Cat Fancy, December 1988!

Cat Fancy, the “magazine for responsible cat owners”, has been published in some form or another since 1965, currently running as a bimonthly renamed in 2015 to Catster (I know, it’s terrible). Click here for a great article about what happened to the Cat Fancy of yore and why it’s now…ugh…Catster, and why its sister magazine formerly known as Dog Fancy is now, breathe with me…Dogster. The magazine is and has always been an unpretentious and useful general resource for domestic cat enthusiasts, offering articles on pet health, pet toys, special features on individual breeds, and more. Pre-internet, the magazine had a special niche as a community hub for people to find others who loved housecats as much as they did, and the real heart of the magazine is the collection of personal stories and letters that readers submitted to be shared.

According to Wikipedia, “The magazine’s main rival in North America is Cats and Kittens“, which makes me picture the CEO holding terse emergency meetings like “How’s that interview with Maru coming, Floyd? Is it gonna be ready to blow C&K back on their asses before they drop that Grumpy Cat tax fraud expose? Linda, I need updates on what they’ve got coming up next. We can’t handle getting scooped again like we were on the litter box consumer review last month. Take that receptionist out to lunch again and GET ME SOME REAL DETAILS this time.”

This cat looks fairly alarmed, as if it’s aware of the dueling cover stories. Holiday decorating? GOOD. Feline leukemia?? BAD.

Real goldmine with that slogan there. Snark aside, Ed Lowe and the invention of kitty litter is actually a pretty cool business story. As it goes, pre-1950s there was no product resembling cat litter on the market – exclusively indoor cats were uncommon because they were hard to clean up after, and the closest thing to litter that people used was either fireplace ashes (!!) or plain old sand. Eww eww eww. So this guy came up with using absorbent clay instead and made a hefty kajillion dollars off a brand new industry he invented. Weird to realize that commercially available kitty litter is, compared to the length of domestic cat ownership, such a new product. Would you buy a bag of cat litter with this friendly Kenny Loggins-looking man on it? I would.

I decided to skip covering the article on Feline Leukemia because it’s been a hard enough week without having to find something to say about seriously ill cats on top of it. Also, I’m going to be honest, a lot of the reader-submitted stories are really repetitive “I was sad and then I got a cat and now I’m not sad” narratives. I can’t imagine the amount of insanity that the magazine editors were sent every month that they didn’t use, if this is what made it in.

I think I saw this cat on Instagram trying to sell me tickets to the Fyre Festival.

– How does one go from “Helen” to “Muffy”?

– Promoting a memorial fund for a cat-rescuing fire fighter in Cat Fancy is some very smart thinking, Donald C. Pavelka of Indiana.

– I couldn’t find anything specific to link to about Purina’s treatment of test animals from 1988, but NAVS were on the warpath regarding animal testing – here’s a NYT op-ed on it from October of that year.

These are the kind of things that Dolores Umbridge had hanging up on the wall of her office, meowing at you all day. Also note the unsettling use of quotes around “Cat Lovers”.

So if you compare this to the modern Fresh Step packaging, you’ll notice that really the only thing that has changed from the last 30 years is that the portrait of the cat is a little different (for the modern “Hawaiian Aloha” scented variety, they drew the cat wearing a lei…yeah). I guess don’t mess with what works, but I wonder if they just have a stockpile of art assets from 1980whenever in a vault somewhere, and every 30 years they announce at their annual special marketing meeting “UNTIL THE YEAR 2054…the cat’s RIGHT PAW will be raised!” and everyone applauds and titters except for the one executive who has put everything he has on the line, his career, his family, to get them to use the art with the cat playfully batting at a butterfly, and he holds it together until the applause fades and the meeting is adjourned and then he goes to his office and screams DAMN DAMN DAMN and throws his marketing awards, all now completely meaningless, off his desk before sinking to his knees in humiliation.

Suggestions for what to do when your cat is clearly much smarter than your dumb infant.

“…oh and I GUESS we have dog frames too.”

I can’t order any earlier than March 29, 2019, so I guess I missed out on that surprise gift. Damn.

Reminder that 88 was an election year. And that Jonny Cat is still the worst cat litter on the market.

The story of a woman whose father is a lost Disney princess and the cat that he saved with whiskey.

The Exotic Feline Breeding Compound is still there in Rosamond, out in the desert, and I’m still salty that I never went there when I was visiting my parents while they lived out there. I had higher priorities at the time, like going to Disneyland – I know, lame. I could have been hanging out with Peaches the ocelot. I keep waiting for the inevitable TIGERS ESCAPE COMPOUND, EAT TOWNSPEOPLE OF ROSAMOND, NOW ROAM SOCAL DESERT news headlines, but no luck yet.

That “krushed kritters” car decoration definitely sounds like a relic of the tacky late 80s.

“Get this stupid bag off my snack!”

Sure, on paper these statistics make the readers of Cat Fancy seem somewhat diverse in background and contrary to popular stereotypes of lonely cat ladies…

…but 46 percent of OH MY GOD LOOK AT SHAG AAH HE HAS THE CUTEST LITTLE FACE AND PAWSIES I LOVE HIS HUGE EARS sorry what was I talking about again?

“IS ERNIE’S HUMAN SINGLE AND CAN I HAVE HIS NUMBER?” — reader mail, January 1989 issue

There’s more context to Tasha’s story but what more do you really need to know? She’s in New Jersey now. She’s happy.

Pfft. Hipsters.

I wonder if Patrick Browning knows that his naked baby butt was featured in Cat Fancy.

I am here for Bruce. Bruce is love.

Allison is all of us.

Which cat is your birth month? I got Smokie.

RIP wise men display five seconds after this photo was taken. Is that a blackface minstrel wise man? Take it down, Mittens, take it down.

Try not to let the bottomless black eyes of this sinister beagle puppy probe into your soul.

“We know that depriving your cat is hard…because that fluffy little psychopath will knock everything you love to the ground and punch you in the face if you’re not feeding them enough.”

The “do cats get along better with other cats of the same coat color” question is still around today, still without much of a definitive answer beyond “no, that makes no sense at all”. I’ve had an orange and white tabby paired with a grey striped tabby, and later with a mostly white flame point Siamese. As long as they accepted that the orange and white tabby was The Boss, they all got along just fine. Common wisdom from the experts today suggests that as long as each cat recognizes and respects the other’s particular brand of being an asshole, everything will be ok.

I love that the Dog Fancy subscription ad is a crappy black and white photo of a puppy looking soulless while the Cat Fancy subscription pitch is a full-color double page spread with adorable illustrations. They know their market.

This is a cute idea. I’m getting flashbacks to making something like it with yarn and construction paper in kindergarten. But I’m going to have to start now if I want to finish embroidering CHARMANDER OZAI across the top in time for Christmas.

Admit it…you totally want that watch.

And that t-shirt.

I think Gucci is selling that T A B B Y ! Sweatshirt for $1600 now.

The internet could not be invented fast enough for these people.

Morris! Hands up if your parents still compare every orange cat they meet to Morris. Morris, the mascot for Nine Lives cat food, was this chonk-ass tabby who narrated commercials in the most insufferable smug asshole voiceover ever. You know, exactly how a cat would talk if a cat could talk.



Thank you for reading! Next time we’ll be reading American Girl (not the doll one) from July 1967!