ST. PAUL, Minn. Cat Fancier Magazine, the leading newsweekly for cat owners, released its annual list of top news stories of the preceding year today, with “Kitten Stuck in Tree” taking the top seven honors.
“While 2019 was a year of great upheaval in the realms of politics, the environment and social justice, we felt that stories of kittens stuck in trees outweighed climate change and terrorism in terms of human interest and newsworthiness,” said Editor-in-Chief Carmella Hewlett. “Mr. Wifflesworth agrees, dudn’t he?” she adds as she scratches her ten-year-old, fourteen-pound orange tabby under the chin.
In eighth place was “Kitten Rescued From Storm Drain,” followed by “Lost Kitten Returned to Owner” and “Trump Impeached.” In response to critics who found the list too heavily oriented towards kittens in peril, Hewlett blamed demographics and the changing market for special interest magazines. “I plead guilty to that one–our readers just find stories about kittens to be more appealing, and we’re a business.” she noted. “But Mr. Wifflesworth is just as cute as those kittens, idn’t he?” she added as she scratched her cat’s belly.
Kittens stuck in trees have been a staple of the news business since the 19th century, when a period of intense competition between the Hearst and the Pulitzer newspaper empires resulted in low content, sensationalist reporting that came to be known as “Yellow Journalism.” “With the dawn of the internet age the hope was that lower production costs would result in higher-quality investigative stories,” says Floyd Harches, a professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts-Seekonk. “The exact opposite happened, with cat videos placing second only to porn as the premier source of on-line banner ad revenues.”
Hewlett notes that a cat doesn’t have to be “fancy” to appear in Cat Fancier Magazine, a misconception she says causes more reputable news outlets to write off her reporting as “fluff.” “It’s used in the British sense of a liking or a fondness for something,” she notes. “And it’s not as fluffy as Mr. Wifflesworth, is it snookums?”