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Cherry Pop, the Original Cat Meme, Could Soon Come to the Big Screen

The inimitable Cherry Pop.
The inimitable Cherry Pop.

Cherry Pop was an icon of her time. She was a vivacious redhead, demure and doted on, the textbook definition of "glamour puss."

Literally. Cherry Pop was a fabulous feline who was once voted the "most pampered cat in the world." And this coming November, she'll be a star once again.

This coming winter, O Cinema co-founder, self-proclaimed cinephile and Cultist contributor Kareem Tabsch plans to release a short documentary about the fancy cat's life and cult popularity, her owners and the gifts they lavished on her, and her meme-ish potential in the pre-Internet age.


The first time Tabsch saw Cherry Pop, she was sitting in a mini Rolls Royce. It was just like the one her owner Huey Vanke owned, but sized just to fit her slight feline frame. She and her matching red car were tucked back in a booth at a Fort Lauderdale cat show, just far enough from curious hands hoping to pet her, but on display for all to admire. Crowds of people had flocked to gawk at her, and Tabsch was entranced by the whole scene.

Tabsch, whose mother was a cat breeder, was a frequent attendee of cat shows as a kid. As he got older, he and his mother got to know the fancy cat's "human owners," Huey and Vi Vanek, socially.

Beyond her life as a show-stopping Persian, Cherry Pop was also an icon for good. Her owners were generous supporters of the Humane Society. After her death in 1995, the Vaneks, who lived in Fort Lauderdale, donated a "cattery," a place for boarding cats, to the Broward County Humane Society in her honor.

After Cherry Pop died at 14 in 1995, Tabsch and the Vaneks kept in touch. Vi died a few years after, and Huey still lives in Fort Lauderdale, in an apartment decorated with pictures of Cherry Pop. He has a 17-year-old cat called Baby Huey.

For years Tabsch has toyed with the idea of making a short film about the fancy cat, because even in the pre-Internet world, Cherry Pop was a star. She was a cat meme before her time, an icon at cat shows, a covergirl, and an oft-written about celebrity.

"Both Cherry Pop and her human owners were very unique," Tabsch said. "The way the cat lived very high on the hog? It was very clearly something you don't encounter every day."

So, Internet, meet your new cat celebrity: Cherry Pop. And meet your newest purveyor of cat memes: Kareem Tabsch.



"With no doubt in my mind, [cat memes] are the reason the Internet was invented," Tabsch says. (His favorite: a video of a Japanese family singing happy birthday to a cat.) He's hoping that Cherry Pop will experience the same fame online.


So far, his Kickstarter to fund the Cherry Pop documentary , which he's working on with Miami-based filmmakers Joey Daoud and Andrew Hevia, has raised half of its $3,000 goal in just a handful of days. The last day to donate is November 22 at 3 a.m.


Watch out Internet, because Cherry Pop is about to make her posthumous debut, and you ain't seen no cat meme as popular as this pussy.


--Anna Hiatt


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