Younger generations may not know the name Morris the Cat, but those of us with a bit of age under our belt remember the orange kitty that was the spokescat for 9 Lives cat food. Not only is Morris historic, but he was a gorgeous cat whose voice overs were witty and entertaining. Let’s learn a bit more about this cute and cuddly 9 Lives mascot so we can take a trip down memory lane while introducing this amazing cat to our younger generations.
The 12 Facts About the 9 Lives Mascot
1. The Original Morris the Cat was Saved from a Shelter
In 1968, 9 Lives was using a creative team from Leo Burnett to help them design a new line of commercials for their cat food. The plan was to find a cat with charisma. It was Bob Martwick, an animal trainer, that was sent out to find this perfect cat. Thinking they had just the cat for their needs, the Hinsdale Humane Society in Hinsdale, IL, reached out to Martwick wanting him to meet an orange cat in their care named Lucky.
Lucky’s caregivers were right. Martwick took Lucky for a casting call with the art director of the commercial project. Lucky seriously impressed by hopping on the table, giving the art director a head bump, then sitting back and waiting in all his glory for those in the room to fawn over him. The art director affectionately called him, “the Clark Gable of cats,” and a historic kitty star was born.
2. Morris the Cat Has Been Portrayed by 4 Different Cats
The original Morris the Cat, adopted in 1968 for only $5, passed away in July 1978 at the ripe age of 17. This famous kitty had an obituary placed in newspapers around the world and was laid to rest near his owner Bob Martwick’s home. Since then, 3 more cats have portrayed Morris the Cat. Each of these cats was rescued from shelters to honor its predecessor. Martwick also discovered Morris II in New England. This Morris retired from work at the age of 15 and passed away in 1997. Morris III sadly passed after only a few years and was replaced by Morris IV who resides with their trainer in Los Angeles.
3. The Original Morris Appeared in 58 Commercials
The original Morris the Cat was no stranger to the camera. Throughout his career, which stemmed from 1969 to 1978, Morris I starred in 58 commercials. These appearances helped launch the kitty to superstardom where he was adored by fans.
4. Morris Had a Voice
If you’ve never seen a 9 Lives commercial with Morris the Cat in it, there’s more to this kitty than meets the eye. Nicknamed the world’s most finicky cat, Morris would only eat 9 Lives. But how did we know his humorous thoughts? Morris was given a voice thanks to John Erwin providing his talents. Morris wasn’t the only one Erwin offered his vocals to, however. Erwin was also the voice of He-Man.
5. Morris Had a Lot of Fans
Morris the Cat’s ad campaign with 9 Lives is one of the most successful in history. With all this success, it only makes sense that Morris would earn a lot of fans. During the height of his career, Morris the Cat was receiving so many fan letters a personal secretary was hired to assist with answering them.
6. Starring Morris the Cat
Commercials weren’t Morris the Cat’s only credits on his resume. In 1973, the famous cat made its acting debut in The Long Goodnight. Robert Altman’s movie was only the launching point for Morris who went on to star alongside Burt Reynolds in Shamus.
7. Morris for President
Oddly enough, Morris the Cat has run for President of the United States twice throughout his long career. These runs took place in 1988 and 1992. Unfortunately, our dear Morris didn’t win, but could you imagine how life would be if he had? He also announced a bid for the big office in 2012 but didn’t hit the campaign trail.
8. The Amazing Kitty Author
Not only is Morris the Cat a spokescat for 9 Lives, a movie star, and a presidential candidate, but he’s also an author. Yes, Morris the Cat has “pawed” 3 books throughout his career that you should check out. The Morris Approach, The Morris Method, and The Morris Prescription are all of Morris’s works on cat care.
9. An Award Winning Kitty
It’s clear to see how much Morris has been loved throughout his career. He’s received multiple awards for his work. In 1973, Morris was the recipient of the Patsy Award from the American Humane Society. The Cat’s Meow Award was presented to Morris by the New York Animal Medical Center in 1992.
10. A Warrior for Pet Adoptions
In 2006, 9 Lives sponsored, with Morris at the helm, the Morris’ Million Cat Rescue campaign for cat adoption. The event began with Morris making an adoption of his own. Li’l Mo, a smaller version of the beloved Morris, went along for the ride as Morris’s new little brother as Morris traveled in a special bus with shelter cats to not only raise awareness but to facilitate more cat adoptions.
11. Morris Becomes Part of the Museum of Broadcast Communications
In 2015, Morris the Cat, alongside nine other brand mascots, was added to Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications. Those joining Morris the Cat were Ronald McDonald, Charlie the Tuna, Mr. Clean, Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, The Jolly Green Giant, the Raid Bugs, The Keebler Elves, and Snap, Crackle, and Pop.
12. Morris Is Now a Social Media Darling
Morris the Cat’s career is far from over. Keeping with the times, Morris is now on social media. He has his own Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook page. Morris also has interactive videos to keep his fans entertained.
While you may not have been around when Morris the Cat was in his heyday, if you’ve browsed the cat food section in your local store, you’ve seen his face. As one of the most famous mascots, and possibly the most famous cat out there, Morris has made his mark not only on people’s hearts, but on the world in general. The next time you see him on a 9 Lives can or bag of kibble, you can think back on these incredible facts and be part of the Morris craze.