1986 Calendar Featuring Morris the Cat, the World’s Most Finicky Cat
Long before internet memes, there was Morris the Cat, the advertising mascot for 9Lives brand cat food, appearing on its packaging and in many of its television commercials since the 1970s. This particular appearance was on a 1986 calendar titled “Morris, A Cat For Our Times” that featured several pieces of technology.
A large orange tabby tomcat, the character of Morris the Cat is “the world’s most finicky cat,” eating only 9Lives cat food and making this preference clear with humorously sardonic voice-over comments when offered other brands. Every can of 9Lives features Morris’ “signature.” Three different cats have played Morris the Cat.
The original Morris was discovered in 1968, at the Hinsdale Humane Society, a Chicago-area animal shelter, by professional animal handler Bob Martwick.] An invention of the Leo Burnett advertising company where Martwick worked, Morris was featured in 58 television commercials which aired from 1969 to 1978. John Erwin provided the voice-over for the cat. Morris won two PATSY Awards (an award for animal performers in film and television) in 1972 and 1973. The original Morris died in 1978.
All cats to play Morris have been rescue animals, either from an animal shelter or a cat rescue. After receiving multiple contacts from individuals who claimed that they were the original owner of Morris, Bob Martwick chose not to reveal which shelter he obtained the second Morris from. After a yearlong search, Martwick selected the second Morris, who began appearing in commercials in 1979. The first two cats to play Morris lived with Martwick as pets. Morris’ popularity continued into the 1980s, with the Leo Burnett Company orchestrating a mock presidential campaign for Morris in 1988.
The current Morris lives in Los Angeles with his handler, Rose Ordile. The Leo Burnett Company parted ways with 9Lives’ corporate parent Heinz in 1994.