As 2019 draws to a close, the opportunities for the world’s cats and dogs to emerge as the decade’s top non-human internet influencers are coming to an end. Just as we began to think this year would close out honoring only the reigns of Cinderblock, the cat who begrudgingly exercises; that seal singing Star Wars music; and Tidy Mouse, Conan O’Brien’s favorite cleaning rodent, a new contender for “Animal Of The Year” has come barreling into view to upset our plans.
Here he is, making his bid just as the clock runs down to zero: A cat called Gambino Bambino who says “Well, hi!” like a stinky-breathed, fur-covered Southern gentleman.
As a video posted on Gambino’s very own Instagram page makes clear, this is a cat that meows in a way that sounds like a human gentleman, wad of chewing tobacco pocketed in one distended cheek, tipping his hat and offering a greeting to a passerby while strolling down a balmy small town’s thoroughfare one fine summer’s day. There is nothing else to it, nor does there need to be.
But, because all good, simple things must be fully explored by the internet, Gambino’s human guardian Tawny has been interviewed by Today’s Samantha Kubota, in order to unlock the secrets of how an animal influencer is made. In this case, Gambino’s rise to stardom began with Tawny filming a cute video, putting it on social media, and watching as millions of people went wild for it. Now, less than two weeks later, people are drawing fan art and there’s Gambino merchandise.
The article also informs us that Gambino’s celebrity shadow looms large over Tawny’s other cat, Tom Petty, who Gambino doesn’t “talk to,” choosing instead to save his best quotes for his human owners and their waiting cameras. As you can see through other videos of the little guy, he basically just walks around being adorable and squeaking out cat sounds whenever a phone’s pointed in his direction.
Gambino, like many top celebrities, lives in Southern California. Tawny says both he and Tom Petty are rescues and that Gambino “just came to our house and decided we were gonna be his family” five years ago. Presumably, he accomplished this by looking up at the humans and meowing out a request for a mint julip and a bit of shade to rest in for a spell.
To see more of what he’s up to, check out the whiskered dynamo’s YouTube page and Facebook profile. If you need him, Gambino’s less famous brother will just be hanging out on the periphery of his sibling’s spotlight, cleaning his junk.
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