Who’s a Pretty Kitty? Who Is?

Before I Can Haz Cheezburger, before Stuff on My Cat, before Cute Overload and all its legions of imitators came the grandkitty of them all: Abbeville Press’s Cats Up Close.

Though not quite as famous as its online descendants (which at this point account for roughly 85% of all Web traffic), Cats Up Close was to these sites what The Velvet Underground was to so many bands in the decades after it: the original cult favorite that launched a thousand mainstream acts. As today’s pampered kittens bask, yawn, and stretch in the limelight, few of them realize that the stars of our volume—including the little Abbecat below—were paying their dues and epitomizing cute back when the word “blog” was just a horribly misconceived twinkle in someone’s eye:

Ah, those were the days. Cats were cats, dogs were dogs, and just having a cute face wasn’t enough; you had to have style. Just look at this paragon of feline elegance, perched atop a lacquered wooden desk:

Fortunately, Cats Up Close did spawn at least one imitator (or should we say copyc—nah) worthy of the original: Abbeville’s own Tiny Folio edition of Cats Up Close. That’s right: all the outrageously adorable cats from the first volume, peering out from a book that’s as tiny as they are! No need for shameless plugs here; you might be able to resist our salesmanship, but can you resist this face? Or this one?

…Or maybe you’re a dog person?

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