Action cameras like the Insta360 enable users to capture photos and videos from fresh, unique perspectives. While devices like the Insta360 and GoPro cameras are often marketed as ideal for humans, people have strapped them to their furry friends, including viral star Gonzo, a cat.
In an excellent feature earlier this year, New York Times journalist Amelia Nierenberg explored how Gonzo and other feline influencers have taken the internet by storm with the aid of specialized camera straps and tiny cameras.
While Gonzo is primarily focused on pet parkour — or, from his perspective, just being a cat — other “catfluencers” like Mr. Kitters sometimes chase prey, which, while interesting to watch, and seemingly popular with many viewers, is a significant threat to wildlife.
@gonzoisacat when you've said goodbye but then your cars are parked in the same direction… #gonzoisacat #fishthecat @insta360_official #insta360go2 #insta360 ♬ original sound – Gonzo
Wildlife concerns aside, these slice-of-nine-lives videos enchant viewers. Many pet owners have often wondered what the world looks like through the eyes of Toto, Lassie, and Felix, and with smaller and more accessible camera technology, now they can. Surely the emphasis on smartphone connectivity and AI-powered editing apps hasn’t hurt, either.
@mr.kitters.the.cat Play Ball! 🧶🐈 #fyp @insta360_official ♬ original sound – Mr. Kitters the Cat
“The cat goes out there, and it’s like, ‘What is he doing, out in the world?'” Derek Boonstra, one of Gonzo the cat’s owners, tells The New York Times. Derek and his wife Maria started filming their cat a few years ago using DIY cameras. Eventually, they equipped Gonzo with upgraded Insta360 cameras.
The video that started the Gonzo the cat craze was filmed using a spy camera and breakaway collar on a DIY setup. Gonzo found a local possum family, and per Gonzo’s owners, he spent a lot of time with them over the next few days. And no, Gonzo didn’t appear to hurt the wildlife.
In fact, Gonzo’s owners, the Boonstra’s, say that how Gonzo interacted with the possums and calmly watched them helped them connect to their cat on a deeper level.
Gonzo is just the latest cat to take excite netizens. Cats have long been a staple of internet culture. Cats have been so popular over the years, that Jason Epppink even curated an exhibition about cats’ ubiquity on the internet in 2015.
Improved technology and the proliferation of social media sites like Instagram and TikTok have only bolstered the stock of cats, sending their already-high popularity to stratospheric heights. And now, viewers can join cats on their journey.
As it turns out, the secret life of cats is an awful lot like the well-known one, they mostly sleep. However, between lengthy naps, cats go on adventures that people rarely see. “Everyone once in a while, you get that 15 seconds of gold,” says Mr. Irwin, one of the owners of TikTok star Mr. Kitters.
@mr.kitters.the.cat Field trip 🐈🐈⬛🐾🐾🐾 #fyp #cat #meow @insta360_official ♬ original sound – Mr. Kitters the Cat
These camera-wearing cats are going beyond creating entertaining content — they’re making money for their owners. Mr. Kitters has scored partnerships with Pretty Litter, a cat litter often seen on social media marketing campaigns, and the mobile video game Genshin Impact. The game’s developers seemingly believe there’s a crossover between gamers and cat lovers. They’re probably right.
As for copyright, hopefully, Gonzo and Mr. Kitters put paw to paper and secured their rights, lest they end up like Naruto the macaque, who, after a lengthy legal battle, didn’t end up owning the copyright to the self-portrait he captured with a photographer’s camera.
As technology evolves and the way people interact with the internet changes, some things stay the same — people love cats. Thanks to ever-improving camera technology, people can see the world in new ways and connect on a deeper level with their four-legged friends, even if the enhanced relationship remains a one-way street.