244 Not-So-Pretty Kitties and Cats Gone Bad (Workman Publishing)
An interview with cat telepath Jim Edgar
by Jamie Kiffel
What do you get when you mix spite, drugs, and lots of pussy? Meoooow! Seattle IT man Jim Edgar was working for Microsoft when some co-workers approached him with digital pics of their very mean-looking cats. Suddenly plagued with telepathic knowledge of those felines’ thoughts, Edgar built a website to express them: www.mycathatesyou.com. Three years, a lot of cats, and a good deal of alcohol later, Workman Publishing invited Edgar to turn it into Bad Cat: 244 Not-So-Pretty Kitties and Cats Gone Bad.
So Workman, the family-oriented publisher, came to you?
I thought it was some sort of surreptitious ad for Viagra, but it turned out it wasn’t. So I wrote this whole collection of short stories about cats throughout history, with all their little evil diabolical plans, how they got into Egyptian culture, and then Workman said, “No, we just want the pictures.” Basically, they went to the website, and said, “Well, this is funny. Exploit it.”
Do you hate cats?
(hesitates) I’m a dog person. I don’t… really… like cats.
But honestly, over the four years I’ve been doing this website, I’ve completely gained appreciation for cats. I mean, I’m used to thinking that only dogs have personalities, but… you just look at these pics, and you think, this face hates you.
How did you get the pictures?
I started out with pictures of cats from my site. But they aren’t hi-res, so Workman said they’d send me rejected photo submissions from their annual cat calendar. At first, I thought, oh no. But when I saw them…
Even the fanged cats were sent in as “cute kitties” for the calendar?
The fanged cats were all sent in for the calendar!
How do you write the captions?
The length of captions depends on my state of inebriation. If I’m really high, you know, I’m thinking, oh yeah, this cat is on a boat…
How did the site start?
A few people at Microsoft had pics of their cats and wanted to put them on a website because they were funny, like, evil cats. But people ended up finding the site on the Internet, so it was no longer just an inside joke.
Are there favorite captions you wrote that were too racy for the book?
Oh, well, for instance, “Fuck you.” And you just know the cat is saying that.
People use curse words and do bad things, and I believe cats do too. You know when they go, “Maaaaaow?” I hear that and I’m like, “I know what you just said.”
How about an example of something that got cut?
There’s a cat with a budgie in front of his face. The original caption was, “Yeah, you did taw a mutherfuckin’ puddy tat.” There were a few references to Manson. I think there was a cat looking in a dollhouse saying something like “Isn’t that where the Tates used to live?”
Something about killing Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t make it. I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, so I thought that was OK. One looks sort of like an Amish cat. That was originally “I’m tired of hearing the cows need a milkin’ and your sister needs a screwin’.”
Did you write everything?
I went through a bottle of vodka and came up with the captions. It’s all me.
What about the edgy captions that stayed in? You did get a lot in there…
One of my favorites that did get in, and kudos to my 60-something-year-old editor, is p. 154, where you see Kermit and the cat on the couch, saying, “I know he’s passed out, but his mouth is open.” You can take it any way you want, but I take it in the most disgusting way possible.
Which were really difficult?
One was like, here’s a cat sitting on a chair. What’s funny about this? The editor suggested, “How about something like, ‘I’d rather be dancing’?” I’m like, why? Why would this cat rather be dancing, and why is that funny? How about “If you don’t move your fat ass from in front of the TV, I’m going to remove your jugular?”
I noticed that on p. 172, you actually got the word “shit” into the book.
Shit! Yes! That was great! I said, “Get this past the copy guy.” Like, doesn’t it look like these two little punks saying, “Yeah, that’s what we’re gonna do, shit on the carpet?” That’s the only shit in the book.
What should readers do if they want to submit their cats’ pictures?
That would be awesome! Just go to www.mycatshatesyou.com, there’s a contact link on there.