Uggie, canine darling of The Artist, has had his time in the spotlight. Now cats have tongues wagging.
There is Hank the Cat, a Maine Coon rescue who is a write-in independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in Virginia. ABC's Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba has a new YouTube series about shelter cats that was prompted by her love of felines. And viewers of the NBC hit The Voice regularly spot Purrfect, a white Persian beauty, being cradled by show judge Cee Lo Green.
"Keep your eyes peeled for Purrfect," Green says. "She's becoming a star." Yes, others have noticed. On her talk show, Ellen DeGeneres recently spoofed Green and his lap cat.
Inaba lets the cat out of the bag on why the creatures are so popular: "They are just really independent and have their own personalities. When they do decide to love you, it feels like an honor."
That doesn't mean Inaba is a canine snob. In addition to her six rescue cats, who range in age from 7 months to 17 years, there is a boxer at home, too. "Dogs tend to be a little less judgmental toward people," Inaba says. "Cats are more discerning."
Inaba loves felines so much that she welcomed the chance to participate in a Web show about them. "I just want to do anything that I can to get cats into forever homes," says Inaba, an executive producer of Crib Cat on YouTube's Petsami channel. It makes its debut March 26 on Petsami.com. New episodes will appear Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
There is an audience. Animal Planet shows such as Must Love Cats, featuring a traveling songwriter who showcases unusual cat stories, and My Cat From Hell, about a cat whisperer who helps treat pets' behavioral problems, each draw about 1 million cat lovers a week.
The fever has spread online. Purrfect has fans on Facebook (10,510 likes so far) and Twitter (34,600 followers). Candidate Hank's numbers: 14,800 likes on Facebook and 1,335 Twitter followers.
Comments reach the hundreds when Purrfect's Facebook status is updated. Her attributes? "She's a great listener," Green says. Does she need to work on anything? "She's a little (too) nonchalant about things," adds "Papa," Purrfect's pet name for her owner.
Green says Purrfect was a kitten a little more than a year ago when he got her to be his companion in Los Angeles while he's away from his family in Atlanta, where he has two dogs. "Purrfect is probably my 20th cat," says the life-long pet owner.
And will Purrfect appeal to the show's cat fans?
"I think so," says Emily Huh, editor of popular humor website Icanhascheezburger.com, which highlights photos of cats with kooky captions. "If you're an animal lover and you see another animal lover, you have an instant bond. (Although) people may not know Cee Lo, they say, 'Hey, he loves his cat just like how I love my cat.' They feel that connection."
When told that Purrfect just might rally feline lovers' votes for his Voice team, Green says: "I think it's great. I represent those people. They have a voice. No pun intended."
He tells fans to look for Purrfect on more episodes, and she might even appear on the live shows that start April 2.
"She's going through training," he says. "Hopefully, she'll be prepared by then to come out to the main stage and sit with me in the chair, which she likes."