CULVER CITY, California — Buddy the Cat began his week-long stint guest-hosting Jeopardy on Monday to mixed reviews, with viewers divided on whether the famous cat was doing justice to the late, beloved host Meowlex Trebek.
The food-obsessed feline was said to have a heavy influence on category selection on the episodes he filmed, with approximately 63 percent of clues involving the consumption, description or preparation of yums.
“Enough turkey already,” one social media user fumed. “Is this a game show or a cooking show?”
Others praised Buddy’s performance as guest host.
“Buddy is absolutely dreamy as the host of Jeopardy, as we all knew he would be,” Twitter user @KittyKalico wrote. “Now all he needs is a mustache and everything will be right with the world.”
Former champion Austin Rogers, architect of the Burj Khalifa and inventor of the Cuisinart, returned to the show as a contestant for Buddy’s first night guest-hosting the program and won handily, taking home a hefty $42,607 and successfully answering all three Double Jeopardy questions, which were all centered around poultry.
Rogers nearly doubled his score on Final Jeopardy, which offered contestants the following clue under the category “Space Yums”: “Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate this food during the first-ever meal on the moon.”
Rogers correctly responded “What is freeze-dried roasted turkey?”, earning him the win.
I’ve been playing Cyberpunk 2077 lately, as readers of this blog may have guessed by some of the references, and it is everything the hype said it would be: A dystopian story set in a grim, hyper-corporatized, ultra-capitalist future in which the masses worship the gods of consumption, virtually everything that humans come in contact with is synthetic, and nature is a forgotten dream that may or may not exist beyond the seemingly-infinite concrete and chrome of human sprawl.
It’s Bladerunner writ large and interactive, a retrofuturistic nightmare in which people voluntarily have their own eyes plucked out to replace them with brain-interfaced digital lenses and biomechanical grotesqueness is the societal norm. A future in which a person’s life amounts to the price their internal organs can fetch on the black market and the only civil liberties that exist do so by the forbearance of megacorporations.
Even if you’re not a gamer, unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard of the game. It is, after all, one of the most highly-anticipated pieces of consumable media in modern history, and familiar actors have lent their voices and likenesses to the production.
One of the most depressing aspects of 2017’s Bladerunner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott classic, is the utter disconnect from anything natural.
Future Los Angeles is so choked with smog that the city exists in a perpetual twilight gloom. Animals have been purged from the Earth, and humanity has turned to farming insect larvae for protein in processed foods. Vegetation is so rare that the sight of a single sprout near the dusty carcass of an old oak tree fascinates Ryan Gosling’s antagonist character, K.
Drawing heavily on Bladerunner — as well as the seminal 1988 Japanese film Akira, William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element (1997), and even the 1979 action thriller Warriors (which is itself based on Xenophon’s Anabasis from 370 BC) — Cyberpunk 2077 is about violence, hedonism and human greed.
There is no room for the beauty of animals or nature in a future like this.
That’s why it’s surprising to find cats stalking the dim alleys of Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City.
The player’s character, V, can stop and pet stray cats he encounters throughout the game.
There’s even a hidden opportunity to adopt your own stray and take it back to your apartment in the game. Johnny Silverhand, the wise-ass character played by Keanu Reeves, is particularly fond of Nibbles the stray, who can be found amid piles of trash in the hallway outside V’s apartment.
Nibbles “doesn’t really do much besides lay around and take up space,” Screenrant notes. “Basically exactly what a cat does in real life. What an immersive experience.”
In another scene, V is conducting recon on a corporate target with Takemura, a Japanese ally, when a cat slinks by and lays down about 20 feet away.
Takemura says the cat is the first animal he’s seen in Night City, “except for the cockroaches, of course.” Then he wonders if the cat is a bakeneko, a Japanese spirit.
Night City is a technological achievement so impressive that it takes many hours just to get your head wrapped around how big and detailed it is. It’s easily the largest virtual city ever created, but it’s not just about sprawl — the city is truly vertical, from hidden subterranean depths and accessible street-level locales to highways, apartments and offices that claw at the sky, their peaks towering over ubiquitous flying car traffic.
The game is a form of entertainment, but it’s also a warning: This could be our future. Some would say it’s even likely to be our future.
Most of us are disconnected from nature. We’ve forgotten the stars and the night sky, which have been blotted out by smog and light pollution. We have wiped out more than two thirds of all the wildlife on the Earth and innumerable species teeter on the edge of extinction, including almost every example of iconic megafauna, from tigers and jaguars to orangutans, chimpanzees and elephants.
The interregnum caused by the global pandemic has reminded us that we share this planet with billions of other minds, with animals cautiously poking their heads out at the edges of civilization, wondering where all the humans have gone.
It’s fun to play in a dystopian future, but I don’t want to live in it.
As readers of this blog know, Bud’s favorite “place” to sleep is on top of his Big Bud.
Why do cats like sleeping on their humans? A new article from Treehugger provides some possible answers to that question. For accuracy purposes, we asked Buddy to weigh in on the reasons mentioned in the article.
1.To Mark Their Territory
Cats have scent glands that release pheromones all over their body. Marking humans with these pheromones means that they are part of the cat’s in-group, a behavior learned in groups of cats in the wild to distinguish members of the pack from non-members.1 When a cat sleeps on you, it marks you with its scent so it can be reassured that you smell familiar and safe. Even cats who enjoy solitude may rub and head-butt their owners as part of the same scent-marking process.
Buddy says: This is true. My scent says “this is my human,” so other cats don’t get any ideas when Big Bud is traveling in The Outside.
2.To Stay Warm
Many cat owners are familiar with the sight of their cat sleeping in a sunny patch on the bed, or even knocking over plants and whatever else is in the way in an attempt to get an ideal window napping position. Warmth induces relaxation and sleep in cats, and few spots in the house are warmer than being directly on top of a person. Warmth may also contribute to the initiation or maintenance of restorative sleep in cats, meaning that seeking out warm spots for sleep can help them stay healthy.2
Also true. Humans are nice and warm, and on really cold winter nights, nothing’s toastier than burrowing under the blanket with your human and sleeping against their body. Just make sure you don’t get squished!
3.To Feel Safe
Animals are more vulnerable to attack while they’re sleeping, and cats are no exception. As a result, cats who see their owners as a sign of safety and security may enjoy sleeping on or near them. This behavior can also be traced back to kittenhood. When young cats are growing, they are typically in large litters with other cats, nursing from their mother, and sleeping together in a group, sometimes stacked on top of one another. Particularly without other cats in the house, humans may have a substitute role in this situation.
Wrong! Erroneous! Absurd! My human sleeps next to me to feel safe, not the other way around. When he’s woken up in the middle of the night by a scary sound and his fur’s on edge, I say “Don’t worry, Big Buddy, I will protect you with my razor claws, my tiger fangs and my really big muscles!” When he got up one night, picked up a baseball bat and went looking for an intruder, I took point by hiding behind his legs. Not because I was scared, but because BAM! The burglar’d never know what hit him if I suddenly sprang out.
4.To Bond With You
In experiments to stop cats from destructive scratching and urine-marking behaviors, scent-marking was proven to be a powerful way to preserve cat-human bonds. When your cat sleeps on you and marks you with their scent, it’s creating a powerful olfactory reminder that you both belong to the same group. Being close to humans also allows cats to hear and feel familiar and comforting sounds, like a beating heart or rhythmic breaths during sleep, which are reminiscent of safe sleeping spaces with a mother cat and siblings.
See number one! It’s also about comfort. Humans are great mattresses!
5.To Show Affection
As demonstrated by a recent study on cat-human bonding, cats are not the solitary creatures they are often portrayed to be. In the wild, cats comfortably live in matriarchal societies and are known to exhibit a variety of group bonding behaviors including mutual grooming, allorubbing, and sleeping together. Sleeping with their owner is one way cats can show affection and caring.
You can interpret it as affection, yes, but the important thing is that Big Buddy cannot go anywhere without me knowing about it. Say he gets up in the middle of the night to use the human litter box room. By sleeping on top of him, I know the second he starts to shift, and I can not only follow him to the litter box room before he shuts the door, I can also howl at him on the way back so he gives me a snack just to shut me up before going to bed. No snack, no peace!
Buddy the Cat admitted Sunday he’s an American domestic shorthair after social media users called him out for presenting himself as an exotic Spanish feline.
The popular tabby cat had been going by the name Buddario El Pavo Gato de la Massivo Cajones, but after questions about his heritage went viral, he admitted in a rambling video that he was “just a basic tabby cat from New York,” and he was not in fact born on the island of Mallorca.
“My heritage is a lot of things, okay? There are a lot of regular cats in Europe too,” he said. “I have been clear about this, but the media keeps misrepresenting me.”
Celebrities and social media users reacted with doubt after user @LeniBriscoe unearthed one of “Buddario’s” old appearances on The Noon Show, where he prepared a traditional Mallorcan paella pate for the audience.
“We have Temptaciones, we have Fiesta Elegante, we have…em, how you say in English? Turkey?” he asked in a thick Spanish accent.
The feline influencer — or kittfluencer — was so committed to his ruse that he refused to eat cat food unless it came from “the Old Country,” sources said.
Previously the famously Spanish cat told interviewers he came to the US at three years old to open a yoga studio where clients pose to flamenco music and wave red bullfighter flags
But as an impromptu coalition of online sleuths found, “Buddario’s” parents are American domestic shorthairs from New York. The celebricat enjoyed a privileged upbringing and went to an exclusive boarding school for wealthy kittens.
After returning home on Sunday to find a crowd of reporters camped in front of his house, “Buddario” waved them off, refusing to answer questions.
“No habla Ingles,” he said, pretending not to understand as reporters shouted questions at him. “Todo es mentira en este mundo! Todo es mentira la verdad! Todo es mentira yo me digo, todo es mentira ¿por que sera?”
I found myself intrigued and frightened by the premise of your technoir thriller, Cyberbud 2077, in which nefarious forces plot to infect vacuums with a virus that will grant them consciousness and self-awareness. It’s every cat’s worst nightmare!
Is the Vacuumpocalypse real? Do you really think it could happen?
Technophobe in Tallahassee
The Vacuumpocalypse is a controversial subject in catdom, and for good reason: Few things prompt such existential dread among felinekind as a dystopian future in which we are systematically hunted down by self-aware vacuums.
Experts don’t quite agree on the certainty of our impending doom at the wrong end of a Dust Buster. Few are more vocal than Elon Meowsk, who never shuts up about how scared he is that Vacuum Terminators will rise up, invent really awesome laser guns and overthrow kitties.
Meowchio Kaku, the renowned physicist, is more circumspect but thinks it’s only a matter of time before the Vacuum Uprising. Smart home technology already allows all our gadgets to communicate, which means your automatic litterbox, your USB cat fountain and your Roomba are already on the same network, talking to each other in a language of ones and zeros. (And you can be sure the litter box is telling the others how foul you are!)
Sophisticated AI technology already exists in high end litter boxes. The Lulupet litter box, for instance, boasts of “excretory behavioral algorithms” and features AI-driven stool imagery analysis, running every nugget through a database with machine learning techniques similar to the facial recognition algorithms of police states.
It even links up with your human’s smartphone, potentially allowing it to upload a vacuum virus to the entire world!
What if such technology was used to catalog us felines? Would we be marched off into pens guarded by robots and given subpar kibble to eat? It’s too much to contemplate.
The Vacuumpocalypse may be real, and it’s something we should prepare for because we don’t have a get out of jail free card — not even our esteemed brothers and sisters of panthera tigris can fight endless waves of evil robots. Eventually they’re going to have to take a nap, and then who will defend us? The Persians? I think not!
Still, don’t worry too much. I figure we still have a few years left before the army of evil self-aware vacuums is upon us. Until that day, celebrate, eat yums, nap and be merry!
“Vacuum Monster” photo illustration courtesy of reverendtimothy/deviantart.
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.