You Are What You Meme

What Maru the cat says about us.

Sam Leith

Maru the cat. Videos of Maru the cat have been viewed more than 1 million times

Have you met Maru? No? Maru is a cat. A cute cat. Is there anything special about Maru, apart from the cuteness, which, if we’re honest, he has in common with quite a few other cats?

He lives in Japan. He’s a straight-haired Scottish Fold, four years old, slightly rotund (his name means “round” in Japanese). Otherwise? Well, there’s this thing he does where he jumps into an empty cardboard box. He jumps into all sorts of cardboard boxes. And out. Sometimes he climbs in a bin. Just for fun!

And Maru is famous. At the time of writing, YouTube videos of Maru have been viewed 100 million times. He’s the subject of a recent hardback book, I Am Maru. It consists of 95 glossy pages of photographs of Maru being a cat. In August, three weeks before its publication date, it was the number one cat book on Amazon UK.

Maru is just a cat. But he’s also more than just a cat. Maru is a bellwether of the state of the culture. Maru is a meme.

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