Before Grumpy Cat, Morris The Cat Captured America's Attention

Posted by Crystal Long
Morris the cat commercial, 1978.
Screenshot from YouTube

Morris the cat was the advertising mascot for the 9Lives brand cat food, appearing in countless 9Lives commercials. The widely-popular cat first appeared on tv in the 60s and 70s.

Who doesn't remember good old "Grumpy Cat"? Loved by millions on social media, "Grumpy Cat" (actually, her real name was Tardar Sauce) was famous for having a perpetually cranky face and permanent scowl. The grumpy feline became an instant internet sensation and became a popular internet meme -- the sourpuss had millions of adoring fans, and she even won "Meme of the Year" at the 2013 Webby Awards.

But before the world got swept away by Grumpy Cat, there was Morris the Cat.

Who Was Morris The Cat?

Morris the cat rose to fame when he first appeared in commercials in the 60's for the 9Lives brand, where he was portrayed 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!

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 and gave him a friendly head bump. Needless to say, the "Clark Gable of cats" got the part and tada! A star was born!

Morris went on and became the 9Lives brand mascot (even to this day!) 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.

How Many Morris The Cats Were There?

Even though the original Morris the cat died in 1978 at the old age of 17, there has been multiple "Morris-es" -- with all 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 indeed 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!

READ MORE: The 11 Cat Island of Japan, Each Cuddlier Than the Next

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Before Grumpy Cat, Morris The Cat Captured America's Attention