Photos courtesy of Miranda Stillabower
Smudge — who has 1.4 million Instagram followers — is a chunky yet funky meme-lord who hates veggies (except for taters).
When owner Miranda Stillabower, 24, found an ad for a free kitten on Facebook, she wasn’t looking for another cat. She had just adopted a gray kitten named Smeagol but was worried because Smudge was listed as free.
“When my mother and I got there, someone pulled up in an old, rusty truck. Smudge was in an old cage and was a fully-grown cat,” she says. “I took him out of the cage, and he hid in my arms the whole way home. It didn't take me long to fall in love with him.”
The six-year-old from Ottawa, Ontario, used to have a gray streak between his ears. “As soon as we named him, it disappeared,” Stillabower says. “Now, he’s a fully-white cat with an ironic name.” Smudge has three siblings: fellow felines Valiant and Pippin and a dog named Aria.
Smudge and Valiant are best friends. They do everything together. “Smudge was actually afraid of toys when we adopted him. He still doesn't really like them,” Stillabower says. The fluffy, white rescue adores rolled-up tin foil balls and even plays fetch with them. “He also loves his little carpeted tunnel that he can sit inside and bat at toys,” she says. “He doesn’t like catnip, but we tried valerian root and he seemed to like that.”
Valiant usually wants to be left alone with his catnip pillows. “I also have a feeding toy that he really enjoys. He has to paw the food out of the holes, but he's the only one who understands it,” she says.
Pippin, 14, is the oldest, but she’s the most playful. While she’ll chase after rope toys forever, her absolute favorite toys are pipe cleaners. "She carries them and meows really loudly," Stillabower says.
Because Pippin doesn't get along with Smudge or Valiant, she likes to be on her own. “But, all of the cats love our dog Aria — especially Pippin because Aria will stand up for her against the boys.”
The Origin Story of the 'Woman Yelling at a Cat' Meme
Smudge, like a lot of cats, is shy around strangers. But when they’re not around, he cuddles and begs for pets — as well as demands his own seat at the dinner table.
"He freaks out if he doesn’t have his own chair," Stillabower says. So he’ll hop onto someone else's before they sit down, or he’ll meow at everyone throughout dinner. That's how Smudge found himself in front of a plate of salad.
In the Instafamous image, Smudge — eyes darting into the great beyond and mouth slightly open — looks dazed and disgusted with the greens in front of him. Stillabower says that Smudge has a very expressive face. He also made the exact same face at a plate of nachos in November 2019.
“Smudge hates ‘vegetals’, but he’ll try anything else at least once,” she says. “I'd say his favorite snack is chicken, he never turns it down.” His other two favorite foods: turkey and any type of fish. He gets turkey every night for dinner, and he goes crazy for it.
Though Stillabower posted the Table Cat to Tumblr in June 2018, Smudge didn’t become an internet darling until May 2019, when a Twitter user combined it with a season 2 meme from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The screen-capture image shows Taylor Armstrong crying, yelling, and pointing as co-star Kyle Richards soothes her.
The “Woman Yelling at a Cat” meme is simple: it looks like Armstrong is yelling at Smudge, who’s sitting at the dinner table like a grownup, calmly eating a salad. It’s so popular that it's generated epic Halloween costumes, online comics, and even a Guatemalan protest sign.
Smudge also has his own official merchandise. Former Pittsburgh Steeler Bruce Davis was filmed wearing one of Smudge's shirts and wrestler-actor John Cena has posted multiple memes on his Instagram account.
“I feel like it was perfect timing for this meme,” Stillabower says. “I run a Smudge meme group on Facebook. A lot of people comment about how Smudge and the memes have been helping them through tough times.”
While Smudge is unaware of his fame, Armstrong was asked on Twitter how she felt about the meme’s circulation, considering that she was dealing with the fallout of her divorce — where she accused her husband of domestic abuse. She wrote, “It’s ok to laugh at the images that have been created. That’s my past and I've moved on and am in a really healthy, happy marriage.”