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The Week in Weird Cat News: Cats With Accents, in Art Museums, and on Your Phone

Also: The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is giving up the annual Internet Cat Video Festival.

Michael Leaverton  |  Mar 11th 2016


UPDATE: Yes, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is giving up the Internet Cat Video Festival, but just after that announcement came word that CatCon, the annual convention billed as “like Comic-Con … for cat people,” is working with Will Braden, producer and curator of the video festival and the man behind Henri Le Chat Noir.

“Braden’s new endeavor, titled CatVideoFest, a nonprofit to benefit cats in need around the country, will now premiere each year in conjunction with CatCon,” states a news release from CatCon creator Susan Michals.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Will, as there is no man who knows the ins and out of the wonderful world of cat videos better than he,” wrote Michals.

So basically, the same day the video festival lost its home, it found a new one. We like that.

Catster will have more on this later.

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The week that was in weird cat news was … odd. Let’s start off with something we all can argue about:

Does your cat have your accent?

According to the Daily Mail, Lund University is devoting hard-won collegiate resources and literally years to a study on whether cats have “regional” meows, or accents.

“We want to find out to what extent domestic cats are influenced by the language and dialect that humans use to speak to them, because it seems that cats use slightly different dialects in the sounds they produce,” said Susanne Schötz, the leader of the project.

While it’s well known that cats talk to us — meowing and trilling their way to dinners every night — it’s less known whether a New York cat would feel totally out of place if he ended up in California with family who called him Brody and told him to “chill” all the time.

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Entering year five of the study. Photo via Shutterstock

One of the goals of the project is to create a dictionary of cat sounds, but get comfortable: Lund University is setting aside five years to complete the study.

And then there’s this guy … 

… who raps about cats in Portland, Oregon. Moshow (aka Dwayne Molock) uses his lyrical skill solely in the service of cats, with lines like “I’m chilling in a cat world, I got cats in my house, man, cats on the floor.”

The rapper (who is not at all bad at rapping) grew up in the projects in Baltimore, “rapping gangster stuff and pretending a life that I didn’t really live,” according to Willamette Week.  Once he moved to Maryland, he started rapping about the life he did live: His life with cats. Only problem: People in Maryland thought he was crazy, rapping about cats. So he and his girlfriend moved to Portland, which — bless that city — welcomed the cat rapper like a long-lost son.

Now he has four Sphynxes, a fledging music career, and a flourishing Instagram. Look:

And watch:

If you’re in Portland, you can catch Moshow on Saturday, March 12, at 1 and 1:30 p.m. at the Portland Art Museum, which brings us to:

The Portland Art Museum!

Picture the scene: You’re at the museum, gazing upon the world’s greatest cat painting,”My Wife’s Lovers” — which is at the museum right now — and there, at your feet — is a cat! An adoptable cat! From the Oregon Humane Society! Right there in the museum! Looking for food!

Actually, stop picturing it, because that happened last Saturday, one of the kickoff events to a month of “Caturdays” celebrating Carl Kahler’s mad 1891 cat painting with all those cats (42, all Persian and Angora), which will hang until May 15.

But this Saturday promises to be just as fun, cat-wise, with Moshow the cat rapper (he’s pretty good!), reps from the Oregon Humane Society lecturing on cats, and a “Here Kitty Kitty” pop-up exhibition featuring prints from the museum’s collection.

It looks like a fun event, which reminds of the original intersection of cats and highbrow art, the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival, which, after four years of drawing thousands of people to its lawn (2012), then the Minnesota State Fair (2013), then back at its lawn (2014), then a baseball stadium (2015) — not to mention all the places on tour — is calling it quits.

Did you say the home of the Internet Cat Video Festival is calling it quits?

Yes, and it is a sad day — it had a cat butter sculpture in 2013, after all. So why is the Walker Art Center exiting the worldwide cat festival movement they singlehandedly created? Well, officials are being kinda cagey, but it appears that the Walker Art Center was reminded it was the Walker Art Center and is going to go all in on the art.

We think that cat videos will live on without us, and we’re really excited for other people to take up the mantle and program their own festivals,” Emmet Byrne, the Walker’s design director, told the StarTribune.

As for the truckloads of festival memorabilia — including videos, cat photos, and cat costumes — it’s all going to the Minnesota Historical Society, which is being pressured to just go ahead and throw the 2016 festival itself and give the cat people want they want.

Good luck with the art, Walker Art Center. Hope it works as well as the cats did. Here’s Henri Le Chat Noir to send us off:

Speaking of cat photos …

Were we? I hope so. Breaking: A new study says that the average cat owner takes four to five photos of their cats every single day, according to Popsugar. It also says that 40 percent of cat owners keep running out of space on their phones because of all those cat photos. If that sounds like you, congratulations: You are an average cat owner. What are you doing reading this? Take a photo of your cat already!

That was the week in weird cat news. Grade: B- (could have been weirder).

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