It is difficult to overestimate a cat. As so many of us know, the domestic feline can be a cozy and loving pet. To author Patricia Carlin, she or he is also a surefire source of wealth and fame, at least for those willing to follow the step-by-step instructions in her new, highly informative “How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity: A Guide to Financial Freedom.”
In the hands of Carlin, who also wrote the equally practical “How to Tell If Your Boyfriend Is the Anti-Christ (and If He Is, Should You Break Up With Him?),” the income potential is inherent in the species. In fact, any Whiskers or Fluffy will do, as long as you can identify your kitty’s basic type. Is your cat lazy? Market him as “a feline Lebowski” who is “living the dream.” Is she a daredevil? Make the most of your “adrenaline junkie,” she writes. “A tiny crash helmet may help (or just be adorable).”
This comprehensive guide is lavishly illustrated by Dustin Fenstermacher’s useful (and quite adorable) photography. These photos, of cats who will undoubtedly be international celebrities within weeks, are embellished with helpful drawings that will aid even the most unimaginative in visualizing the possibilities. Notes one: “Smaller box = Bigger $$$,” underlying a basic principle in cute cat marketing, while another demonstrates how much cuter a particular feline would be, if only he were given glasses, a pipe, and a bow tie.
Carlin takes would-be feline entrepreneurs from basic branding through marketing and even the inevitable comedown. Once complete Internet dominance has been achieved, she notes, the envious will come calling — as will critics who may try to dismiss your pet’s fame as something ephemeral or meaningless. Haters will be haters, she warns. “If your cat seems depressed by the negativity, pet him.”
With such pertinent advice as to how to accessorize your feline star and how to capture his or her antics for posterity (or at least YouTube), Carlin would seem to have all the bases covered. She is even prepared for the mercurial nature of Internet fame, noting, “Your cat must have an active Twitter feed . . . unless Twitter’s been replaced by something else by the time you read this book.”
And while some critics might say the author is milking her premise to fill out her pages, future feline moguls will certainly appreciate the sections on how to manage a cat who wishes to be emancipated or who becomes overly involved with catnip, once the first thrill of fame has passed.
However, no critique of this important work would be either fair or honest if it did not point out a major flaw in the basic premise. As a cat person — to say “owner” might be considered inconsiderate or, at the very least, prejudicial — I have earnestly followed Carlin’s instructions.
I have tried to make the most of my feline companion’s “Buddha belly” as well as her captivating ways with a paper bag. I have schemed over her marketing possibilities, envisioning her crooked smile on pens and T-shirts.
I have even dreamed up a suitable Internet persona for her. In light of some necessary dental work that occurred years before her shot at fame, we’re thinking “Miss One Fang, the Snarly Girl” might work.
I even got so far as to story-board her breakthrough video, a combination action sequence-romance involving a particularly alluring catnip toy dog. Then it all fell apart, and although I returned to Carlin’s guide, I could find no way out.
You see my kitty doesn’t want to be a star. She wants to direct.
Clea Simon is the author of 15 mysteries, all of which involve cats. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.