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the very finicky spokesman for 9 Lives Cat Food

Morris the Cat

In 1968 Bob Martwick, an animal trainer who worked for the Leo Burnett advertising agency, visited the Humane Society of Hinsdale, Illinois. He was looking for an orange cat for a commercial, and the Humane Society staff introduced him to 7-year-old Lucky. Matwick took to Lucky immediately, as did the ad agency's art director, and he made his television debut as Morris, "the world's most finicky cat," in 1969. He went on to represent 9 Lives in 58 commercials, with the voice-over of John Irwin, as well in print ads and other media, before his death on July 7, 1978. Two cats, both shelter rescues, have subsequently played Morris.

In addition to commercials, the original Morris also appeared in two films, The Long Goodbye, with Elliott Gould, and Shamus, with Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon. Those roles earned him a PATSY (The Picture Animal Top Star Award) from the American Humane Society in 1973. A true media darling, Morris received so much fan mail he had his own personal secretary, and received marriage proposals from felines and humans alike. He was even the subject of Morris: An Intimate Biography (1974), by Mary Daniels. His death was reported on many local and national news broadcasts and his obituary appeared in newspapers worldwide.

Subsequent Morris the Cats have "authored" three books -- The Morris Approach: An Insider's Guide to Pet Care (1980); The Morris Method (1980), for new pet owners; and The Morris Prescription (1986), about cat healthcare. Morris also appeared on the cover of Cat Fancy's 30th Anniversary issue in 1995 and on the cover of the 1996 book Good Mousekeeping by Ilene Hochberg. In 1983, Time Magazine declared Morris "The Feline Burt Reynolds" in 1983, and US Magazine named him Animal Star of the Year from 1982 to 1984. Morris has also been the recipient of a number of awards, including The Cats' Meow Award, bestowed by the New York Animal Medical Center, in 1992.

The original Morris the Cat was buried in the back yard of Bob Martwick's Chicago, Illinois, home. The current Morris the Cat lives in Los Angeles with his handler and companion, Rose Ordile, the cat's official trainer.

Hinsdale Humane Society

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This page was last updated on June 28, 2018.