Saying he couldn’t find a way to squeeze it into his schedule over the next year, Buddy the Cat declined a challenge to step into the cage with one of feline MMA’s brightest young stars.
The challenge came courtesy of Sphynxie the Smasher, a four-year-old hairless cat from San Jose, California. The skilled cat uploaded a video in which he pumped iron and ridiculed Buddy for his “completely delusional claim that he’s a badass” and his “hilarious talk about having huge muscles.”
“This is what huge meowscles look like,” Sphynxie said, curling a meaty forearm and flexing his bicep. “Not the flab of some chubby tabby hoping we won’t notice how many snacks he devours.”
Sphynxie challenged Buddy to a cage match “any time, any place” and said he’d even tie one paw behind his back “to make it even with the chonkster.”
Buddy issued a response on Twitter.
“First of all I’m not chubby, so that’s fake news!” Buddy wrote. “I’m 100% pure lean, mean badass.”
“Secondly, I’d be honored to step into the cage with Sphynxie and teach him a lesson that he’ll remember long after the real Sphinx is weathered to dust,” he continued. “Unfortunately my meownager says I can’t squeeze it into my schedule. I’m shooting my new movie, Fowl Play, through mid March, and then I’m going on tour to promote my next album. In between that stuff I really need to nap when I can, get some laser pointer work in, and catch up on eating turkey. Sphynxie should count himself lucky, because he dodged a bullet!”
The viral hashtags #BuddyDucksFights, #BuddyIsADuck and #ScaredBuddy were trending late Sunday night, prompting a long list of others to challenge the gray tabby to elicit increasingly ridiculous excuses from him.
One of them, a challenge from a five-month-old Russian named Oreonov the Putinizer, accumulated more than 20,000 likes in just a few hours.
“I am kitten. He is full grown cat, yet he won’t step into cage with me,” Oreonov wrote. “He knows I crush him for the glory of motherland.”
Apparently angry that Pain In The Bud hasn’t been featuring enough stories about him, Buddy the Cat went on a tweet storm Tuesday night in which he took aim at the site and its staff.
“Just looked at the failing PITB and saw they published ANOTHER story that’s not about me,” Buddy wrote at 10:57 pm. “That’s obviously why they’re losing readers! Sad!”
Four minutes later he launched another salvo, noting only a handful of stories in the past month were focused on him.
“PITB and its editorial staff think they’re being so inclusive by writing about birds and orange tabbies and Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he wrote. “BORING!”
The former president of the Americats tweeted seven more times in the next 23 minutes before turning his attention back to the site that was named for him and ostensibly exists to feature stories about him.
“That rag, the failing PITB, is no better than the New York Slimes. It claims I slept as a mouse invaded my home. FAKE NEWS!!!” he wrote. “Folks, I am a TREMENDOUS HUNTER and would have DESTROYED that mouse — if it existed. NEWSFLASH: It doesn’t! Another lie by the lamestream media!”
That message was immediately followed by a tweet in which Buddy declared himself “the best hunter of all time, a tremendously talented hunter, and everybody knows it.”
Buddy’s supporters took his accusations to heart. At a rally in New Jersey attended by 24,000 cats, a tuxedo cat held up a sign that read: “The media hates turkey and hates America!’
Another sign held by an Abyssinian blasted “Low Energy Big Buddy” and referenced C-Anon, a conspiracy theory that imagines Buddy as the leader of a league of patriotic heroes fighting to take down a shadowy kitten smuggling ring.
Supporters of C-Anon believe Buddy is working with “supposedly deceased” cats like Streetcat Bob and Lil Bub to combat insidious canine forces who have allegedly infiltrated feline leadership.
Not all cats are enamored with Buddy, however.
One user, LosGatos446, pointed out that Buddy accusing someone else of being low energy was hypocritical because the silver tabby sleeps between 10 and 16 hours a day, promoting Buddy to reply with a terse “FAKE NEWS!”
Another user with the handle ScaredyCat_Bud shared a video that appeared to show a terrified Buddy dashing for cover behind his human’s legs in response to the crinkle of a paper bag.
“An obvious deepfake!” Buddy replied. “Everyone knows I have tremendous courage. I’m an incredibly, tremendously brave cat!”
Tony Gonsolin hasn’t been shy about his love for cats.
The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher rocked cat shirts and spoke often about cats during his time in the minors, continued the habit when he was promoted to the majors, then last year kicked it up a notch when he wore cat-themed cleats as a starting pitcher.
Now the 28-year-old Gonsolin has the highest profile of his young career as he leads all of major league baseball with an astounding 1.58 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and a 9-0 record, and he’s continued using his platform to spread love for all things feline.
For our readers outside the US, as well as those unfamiliar with the sport, the numbers above mean Gonsolin has been exceptional and virtually unhittable this year. Pitching is often compared to chess, and for good reason. Being a pitcher is paradoxical — a pitcher’s job is to throw the ball across the plate while at the same time making it as difficult as possible for the batter to actually hit the ball. As a result, pitchers use deception, psychological tricks and a wide variety of tiny physical adjustments to make the ball behave in different ways.
People with a passing knowledge of baseball think these guys just throw as hard as they can to blow the ball past the batter at 100 mph. While some pitchers are capable of that, it’s not a viable strategy. Throw the same pitch again and again, and hitters will know what’s coming. That’s not what you want to do, unless you enjoy getting clobbered by home runs.
Instead, a great pitcher will follow that 100 mph fastball with an 82 mph breaking ball, throwing the hitter’s timing off and baiting him into swinging early. Or he’ll throw a 12-6 curveball, which drops off by several feet as it crosses the plate.
One of Gonsolin’s go-to pitches is a split-finger fastball, also known as a splitter because of the grip pitchers use to throw the pitch. It combines the speed of a fastball with the drop of a curveball and is very difficult to hit when executed by a skilled pitcher.
In addition to wearing cat-themed cleats, getting his teammates and manager to wear cat shirts and using social media to talk about his love for all things feline, Gonsolin celebrates every “Caturday” with posts about cats.
As he climbed the ladder from minor leaguer to pro, Gonsolin was a cat man without a cat because the uncertainty and travel schedule of a minor leaguer doesn’t leave much time or stability for a pet. In addition to the constant possibility of being dealt to another team, minor leaguers can be shuffled between different levels of play (AAA, AA, single-A, fall leagues, etc) and sent up to their MLB team for short stints if big leaguers get hurt and the team needs a temporary replacement.
Now that Gonsolin is an established major leaguer, and the Dodgers value him so much that it’s very unlikely they’ll trade him to another team, Gonsolin adopted an orange tabby named Tigger. It’s safe to say little Tigger is a well-loved cat who is doted on by his adoring human.
Note: As longtime readers of PITB know, Little Buddy and I are Yankee fans. I was born and raised here in New York, started watching the Yankees as a child when they were lousy in the early 90s, lived through the glorious Joe Torre Era when Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neil, Mariano Rivera (my favorite Yankee), Andy Pettite et al won four (!) World Series in five years from 1996 to 2000, and have been waiting patiently for the Yanks to win it all again for the first time since 2009. This is our year! The Yankees are historically great in 2022. Buddy himself might not fully understand baseball, but he has a mean mid-20s swipe ball and he likes it when the Yankees win and I’m happy. We wish Gonsolin well, but if the Dodgers and Yankees end up in the World Series this year, well, I’ll be rooting against him, cat cad of not. Sorry, Tony!
Two curious stories relating to cats have been circulating online this week: In the first story, a substitute teacher claims she was fired because she refused to meow back to a student who “identifies as a cat,” while parents in a Michigan school district were infuriated by a rumor that the district was providing litter boxes to cat-identified students in school bathrooms.
Why did people believe them? Because we’ve gone insane as a society, of course, and basic reality now means different things to different people depending on their political ideologies. If you’re on the left, you might think parents who aren’t sophisticated news consumers are so paranoid about school curricula, they’d believe just about anything. If you’re on the right, you’re might argue that some schools have gone so overboard with political correctness, it’s not a stretch to imagine privileges conferred on the allegedly cat-identified.
For those of us who subscribe to neither ideology, the whole thing is another sad example of the polarization that is destroying the US, the same divisive talk amplified by platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
But that’s beyond the scope of this blog, which is to celebrate cats, have a laugh and occasionally put the spotlight on animal welfare. I don’t want to lose readers by wading into a political landmine field, but most importantly I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome on this site.
The Michigan incident started when a mom of kids at the Midland School District, about 130 miles northwest of Detroit, spoke at a school board meeting about a rumor — which she took as fact — alleging the school was accommodating “furries” by providing litter boxes in unisex bathrooms.
Lisa Hansen asked other parents to join her to “do some investigating” into the policy
“I’m all for creativity and imagination, but when someone lives in a fantasy world and expects other people to go along with it, I have a problem with that,” Hansen told the Midland school board. “This whole furry thing has just got me. I’m staying calm, but I’m not happy about it, and it’s happened on your watch, and I don’t understand it.”
Here’s the video: (It should start at the relevant section, but if it doesn’t, Hansen speaks at the 32:44 mark)
Hansen’s claims were picked up and reshared by a state GOP chairwoman, Meshawn Maddock, who warned “Parent heroes will TAKE BACK our schools” in a Facebook post.
The school’s superintendent, Michael Sharrow, was forced to do damage control with a public statement, telling parents it’s a “source of disappointment that I felt the necessity to communicate this message to you.”
“There is no truth whatsoever to this false statement/accusation,” Sharrow wrote. “There have never been litter boxes within MPS schools.”
The story about the fired substitute also had its roots in an online video, with a woman who says she’s a teacher relating the story via TikTok. The woman, who uses the handle @crazynamebridgetmichael, said she was taking attendance when a student responded to his name with feline vocalizations.
“I get to the third row and I hear this ‘meow!’ ‘Uhhh, excuse me? Excuse me?'” she said in the TikTok video. “I start looking on the ground, through the fourth row—everything’s good. Go to the fifth row—everybody’s there. Then I hear ‘meow!’ I’m like, ‘Okay, what’s up with that? Who’s doing it?’ And this little girl in the very front row says, ‘You have to meow back at him; he identifies as a cat.’ Are you kidding me?”
The student stormed out of the classroom when she laughed at him, she said, and the school’s administration fired her: “They said ‘We no longer need your services if you can’t identify with all the children in the classroom.'”
The story was picked up by several widely-read sites, included in Tucker Carlson’s daily newsletter, and reshared on prominent Twitter accounts in addition to going viral on Facebook.
The only problem is it isn’t true. In a follow-up video the teacher admitted she made up the story to “create awareness of what kids are going through at school.” She didn’t elaborate, so it’s not clear if she was criticizing school policies for allowing students to identify as different genders or arguing that kids’ needs aren’t accommodated. Occam’s Razor would indicate she was just chasing clicks.
The one thing that’s certain, however, is that cats don’t deserve to be in the middle of this mess.
Top image: A 20-year-old Norwegian woman who identifies as a cat. The woman says she was “born the wrong species.” “My psychologist told me I can grow out of it, but I doubt it,” she told an interviewer. “I think I will be cat all my life.”