It’s been guestimated that a staggering 15 percent of all traffic on the Web is cat-related. Frankly, it’s totally understandable, because cats are cute, funny, and very entertaining. French Women Marie-Eva Gatuingt and Alice Chaygneaud have taken the feline craze in a different direction by launching a Tumblr site called Des Hommes et des Chatons (Men and Cats), posting photographs of cats and attractive men striking similar poses. Now they have picked the cutest cats and sexiest men combos and compiled them in a book, simply titled Men and Cats.
While the success of the Tumblr site is based on the copycat poses, there is an art quality to their careful selections, too. Often the photographs are black and white and rely heavily on good lighting to create the visual effects. Even the book’s black and white cover has a silky, almost sexy feel to it, thanks to the soft matte finish. The book’s editors are obviously cat people, too!
Gatuingt and Chaygneaud met and became friends when they worked as interns at a French advertising agency in Paris. “We had an intern breakroom and whenever we were there together, we spent most of our time sharing pictures of sexy men and lovely cats,” recalls Gatuingt. “One day, we were just sitting and chatting over lunch and we hit upon the idea of combining photographs of men and cats striking similar poses and posting them on the Internet. It just seemed like a fun thing to do.”
Des Hommes et des Chatons was an instant success in France; then their site was retweeted by a popular famous French media site and their fan base exploded and went international.
“‘We had no idea how big or how popular it would become,” says Chaygneaud.
Even French Cosmopolitan magazine enthused, calling their Tumblr brainwave a “salivating emergency.” And when the editors touched and felt the book version, they added, “We already loved cats. We also like men. This book is the perfect addition (to the bookshelf) to make us melt.”
According to Gatuingt and Chaygneaud, the twosome surf the Web, searching through photos that are in the public domain and free of copyright issues.
“We have had a lot of success on Pinterest,” confirms Gatuingt. “The site is full of men and cats, and I never cease to be amazed by the amount of good quality cat pictures that are out there. It’s an endless supply. Cats truly own the web!”
While both Gatuingt and Chaygneaud have moved on to different jobs – Gatuingt now works in the advertising department of the French economic newspaper Les Échos, and Chaygneaud is the art director at a beauty-centric advertising agency — they still connect on weekdays to post men and cat combos to their Tumblr page.
“Both our friends and various family members love to help out by suggesting photographs that we should use,” admits Gatuingt. “And we often poll their advice too. We don’t have a formula; sometimes we find a cute cat photo first. Other times, it’s a photograph of a handsome man that inspires the matchup.
“We get sent a lot of photographs from sexy men asking us to find a feline matchup. However, we also get at least three or four messages a day on Facebook from women who want to send us photographs of their boyfriends or husbands asking us to pair them up with felines to surprise their men. Sometimes they even submit their own combos. And from time to time we will post them.”
Naturally both Gatuingt and Chaygneaud have their personal favorites.
“I like the set of the man and the kitten enjoying a shower. The cat seems to enjoy this moment so much, and the man looks sexy and happy at the same time,” says Gatuingt.
“And my favorite is the one with the man raising his head, with the grey kitten doing the same. The photo is framed on the man’s chest, and they both have a black background. The man’s photo is very graphic, and the kitten is too cute!” adds Chaygneaud.
I found it difficult to spotlight favorites; I love them all. And the publishers may not approve, but I am seriously considering cutting up my book and creating some artwork for my office …
Interestingly, while Gatuingt and her boyfriend, Simon, co-parent a tabby cat named Crapule, Gatuingt has never posted photographs of the duo to Tumblr, and they don’t feature in the book either. “Although like every cat’s mother I think that my cat is the most beautiful cat in the world, Crapule is very shy,” she says. “And I have to admit she’s a geek. She loves to play games on my iPad. Her favorite is Game for Cats.”
While Alice also adores cats, she happens to have a pet otter, who is named Diego. “He’s kind of like a cat who loves water and does his own fishing,” she explains. “Although, I have to admit since we’ve been working on Des Hommes et des Chatons, I would really love a cat. In fact, I would love to have many kittens waiting for me at the front door when I come back home at night. But I couldn’t do that to Diego. He would be so jealous!”
Men and Cats is published by Perigee and is available for $15 in bookstores and online. Visit the Tumblr site, where new combos are posted daily. If you have any suggestions for the creators, you can also contact them via Facebook.
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About the author: Sandy Robins is an award-winning multimedia pet lifestyle expert and author of four cat books. Her latest, Making the Most of All Nine Lives: The Extraordinary Life of Buffy the Cat is available in early 2016. Visit her on Facebook and at her website.