Ottawa's latest Instagram star is a middle-aged white cat that doesn't care for salad
Kanata's smudge_lord cracked 1.1 million followers this month
Once upon a time, at a table not very far away, a white cat made a face at a salad. Someone took a picture.
The internet decided it was relatable and began making jokes. Now, more than one million followers keep tabs on the finicky feline.
The cat's name is Smudge, and the moment was captured at a suburban Ottawa home in June 2018.
I don't know why he was making that face, but it's the best thing he's ever done.- Miranda Stillabower, Smudge's owner
"He eats dinner at our table. He gets really upset if he doesn't have a chair," said Miranda Stillabower, 24, Smudge's owner.
"Someone got up from dinner and he must have thought, 'Oh, this is my chair,' and he sat there. My brother's girlfriend took the picture."
OK, but what's with that expression, the one Stillabower sums up as "super unimpressed?"
"I don't know why he was making that face, but it's the best thing he's ever done," she said.
Stillabower thought the picture was funny, so she posted it on her Tumblr blog. It sat there for a few months until it somehow caught on and got shared tens of thousands of times.
These photos together is making me lose it <a href="https://t.co/kJi9d8MpbG">pic.twitter.com/kJi9d8MpbG</a>—@MISSINGEGIRL
More recently, Smudge's picture was given a second life when someone, for reasons no one can quite fathom, paired it with a screengrab of an angry woman from the Real Housewives reality TV series.
"I think the original photo is [popular] because he looks so dissatisfied with the plate of salad, then [the pairing] looks kind of like an argumentative setup, which is why it's worked so well," Stillabower said.
"Also I want to say that I think Smudge is adorable. I think that's why, too."
The viral meme's other half has confirmed she's a fan of the jokes, by the way.
They are creative and so funny <a href="https://t.co/mbtLXkchd4">https://t.co/mbtLXkchd4</a>—@TaylorArmstrong
1.1 million followers
Now, with more than 1 million followers, smudge_lord has become one of Instagram's few true celebrities from the Ottawa-Gatineau area.
An unscientific sweep of the platform shows:
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and actor Sandra Oh each has 3.2 million.
- The Ottawa Senators have about 285,000.
- Alanis Morissette has 461,000.
- @crusoe_dachshund, probably the capital's most famous Insta-dog, has about 769,000.
So what does Smudge think of the newfound fame? In keeping with the cat's image, pretty meh, actually.
"He's just a cat, as amazing as he is," Stillabower said. "He has no idea he's famous. He goes about his daily life and it's normal, then you go online and he's everywhere. That's when it starts to be crazy."
Stillabower said she'd like to be able to take the cat, which is about six or seven years old, to meet fans, but Smudge has had anxiety issues since before his adoption about five years ago.
She said she's on the lookout for a behavioural therapist able to help Smudge adapt to the internet influencer role.