I’m in love with a viral video star.
His name is Maru. He lives in Japan, has gorgeous golden eyes, and could be described as, well, a bit plump. He’s loved worldwide. He’s a goofball, a free spirit, a headlong charger at life. I could watch him in action for hours. He’s simply adorable. But it will never work.
He’s a cat.
The lucky woman who “owns” him, known only as mugumogu, posts well-edited videos of his antics, graced with whimsical music tracks and affectionate titles in Japanese and charmingly stilted English. According to Wikipedia, as of this April he’s garnered over 200 million total views. The comments his fans submit are full of delighted appreciation for the happiness he brings them.
Yawn, you say. Just another cat among too many on the internet.
The difference is the cat himself. He’s uniquely cute, round of face, body, and tail, but his appeal goes beyond looks. This little nut has an obsession with boxes. He careens across a slick hardwood floor and belly-slides, hind legs asprawl, into a series of cut-out boxes: big boxes, medium boxes, little boxes. He also jumps in and out of boxes. He slides his head into boxes and parades around wearing them, sometimes walking into walls. He positions his chubby body inside a long carton and voila! it’s the latest fashion.
Although box tricks are Maru’s specialty, he doesn’t limit himself. He gets his head stuck in a clear plastic cup and wanders around looking slightly squished and vaguely puzzled. He bats at pieces of grass, plays hide-and-seek, douses his head in running water and then turns off the faucet with a hind paw. He madly pummels a sheet of paper. He scoots out from under the sofa, peers around, then draws back into hiding. He boxes his tripled reflection. And, in a recent appearance, he works the most awesome little blue hoodie while figuring out how to walk on a thin coating of snow, one tentative step at a time.
You feline aficianados might still say these are typical kitty capers, and you’d be right. My own cat does a lot of silly things that would look even sillier on camera. So what, really, is Maru’s secret?
I can only call it a sort of feline Zen. He is consistently mellow, serene, equable, even as he becomes a furry blur on the way to another box dive. Never, ever does he show aggression; the most he’ll do is twitch his tail a little while patiently waiting for someone to pull that plastic cup off his head. He might not always understand what’s going on, but he doesn’t really seem to care. All he wants is to have some fun, then lie with his fuzzy tummy exposed and luxuriate in some good lovin’ from mugumogu.
Sigh. That, more than the distance, more than the language barrier and cultural differences, is why I can only love Maru onscreen. He already has a real live human to adore him as he deserves. My obsession must remain a fantasy.
Besides, I already have a real live kitty who’s tired of watching Maru and is about to walk across the keyboard again until I give her some attention.
You’ve got to love the one you’re with.