How Old Is The Keyboard Cat Meme?

Memes and viral videos have become a mainstay of internet culture. With the rise of social media and video sharing sites like YouTube over the past couple decades, funny, shareable content has spread rapidly online. Memes often take the form of an image with humorous text, while viral videos tend to be short, amusing clips. Some of the earliest viral stars on the internet were the Numa Numa Guy, the Star Wars Kid, and the Dancing Baby. But perhaps one of the most iconic and enduring memes has been Keyboard Cat.

Origin of Keyboard Cat

The Keyboard Cat meme originated from a video filmed in 1984 by Charlie Schmidt. The video featured Schmidt’s cat, Fatso, wearing a blue shirt and “playing” an upbeat rhythm on an electronic keyboard. Fatso was Schmidt’s childhood pet that he adopted in the 1970s.

Schmidt filmed the video by taking footage of Fatso lazily lying across the keyboard and edited it together with footage of him “playing” the keyboard by holding his paws on the keys. He added the upbeat keyboard music himself. The original video was just titled “Cat Keyboard” and was not widely seen at the time.

The lovable Fatso passed away in 1987, but the quirky video of him “playing” the keyboard lived on. In 2007, Schmidt revived the video, titling it “Keyboard Cat” and uploading it to YouTube where it quickly went viral. The Internet embraced Keyboard Cat, making it one of the first popular animal memes.

Keyboard Cat videos

The Keyboard Cat meme originated from a video filmed in 1984 by Charlie Schmidt featuring his cat Fatso wearing a blue shirt and “playing” an upbeat rhythm on an electronic keyboard. While Fatso passed away in 1987, Schmidt held onto the tapes for over twenty years before finally uploading the video titled “Cool Cat” to YouTube in June 2007.

The original video received little attention at first. But Remixes and remakes started appearing in early 2008, like the “Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat” remix series by Brad O’Farrell which edited footage of people speaking to suddenly get interrupted by Keyboard Cat. This sparked the meme’s popularity, with many others soon making their own Keyboard Cat remix videos.

By 2009, the original Keyboard Cat video surpassed 15 million views. It inspired numerous musical remixes, compliations, and edits, cementing the meme status of Fatso’s musical performance.

Viral Popularity

The original Keyboard Cat video went hugely viral after being posted to YouTube in 2007. It spread rapidly across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, gaining millions of views. Mainstream media outlets also picked up on the meme, with Keyboard Cat appearing on shows like The Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. By 2009, the video had been viewed over 15 million times. Fans began creating their own remixes and parodies featuring Keyboard Cat, further fueling its popularity. Keyboard Cat’s infectious, lighthearted nature resonated with internet users, making it one of the first big animal meme sensations. According to, Keyboard Cat was among the top watched YouTube videos of the decade from 2000-2009 and helped define internet culture in the late 2000s.

Notable appearances

Keyboard Cat gained wide exposure through several notable television appearances in the late 2000s and early 2010s. According to the Keyboard Cat Wikipedia page, in 2009, Keyboard Cat appeared on The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, The Soup, and Tosh.0.

In 2010, Keyboard Cat was featured in an ESPN This is SportsCenter commercial with New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter. That same year, Keyboard Cat appeared alongside actress Alice Eve in an AT&T commercial that aired during the Super Bowl.

Other notable TV appearances for Keyboard Cat included episodes of How I Met Your Mother in 2010 and The Annoying Orange in 2012. Keyboard Cat also appeared in an episode of the Canadian mockumentary series Trailer Park Boys in 2014 according to the Wikipedia article (


Keyboard Cat had a significant cultural impact as an early viral meme. Its popularity epitomized the humor and entertainment value that the internet offered in sharing funny animal videos. According to, “Keyboard Cat’s stardom coincided with the golden age of YouTube, when influencers were rapidly rising to fame through the platform’s monetization and partnership opportunities.” As internet culture evolved, Keyboard Cat remained a beloved and iconic meme referenced across media.

Death of Fatso

The original Keyboard Cat, named “Fatso”, was owned by Charlie Schmidt and passed away in 1987 at the age of 10 due to complications from a blood clot. Though Fatso had died in the late 1980s, the meme did not go viral until decades later in 2009 (Wikipedia).

After Fatso’s passing, Schmidt adopted new cats to carry on the Keyboard Cat persona. He trained his cats Bento and Maple to “perform” in Keyboard Cat videos, providing new footage that allowed the meme to continue spreading online even after the original cat had died (Wikipedia). Though Fatso was the original Keyboard Cat, Schmidt’s later cats helped cement the meme’s popularity and comedic legacy.

Recent Revival

In the late 2010s and early 2020s, there was a nostalgic revival of interest in Keyboard Cat. People who grew up with the original viral videos started sharing them again on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. This exposed a new generation to the iconic meme.

For example, the original 2007 blue shirt video has over 56 million views on YouTube. Many of these views likely came during the revival period as people re-shared the clip for nostalgia. Brands like Skittles even used Keyboard Cat in new commercials to tap into the nostalgia, bringing the meme back into pop culture.

Musicians began remixing Keyboard Cat clips into new songs. DJs like Dillon Francis and Baauer incorporated the tune into live sets. This introduced Keyboard Cat to new audiences through song samples and electronic dance music. The revival cemented Keyboard Cat’s status as a timeless viral legend.

Musical influence

The Keyboard Cat meme has inspired many other musical animal memes that became popular online. One of the most well-known is Nyan Cat, an animated flying cat with a Pop-Tart body that farts rainbows while riding through space to a catchy Japanese pop song. Nyan Cat first appeared in a YouTube video in 2011 and quickly went viral across the internet.

Other musical animal memes inspired by Keyboard Cat include Shovel Dog, a dog playing a shovel like a horn, and Slav Cat, featuring a squatting cat dancing to techno music. These memes follow a similar format to Keyboard Cat, with an animal “playing” a musical instrument while a silly or catchy tune plays in the background. While not quite as iconic as the original Keyboard Cat, these memes demonstrate its influence in sparking the creation of similar musical and comedy memes.

The Keyboard Cat meme has also directly inspired various musical remixes and mashups. Artists have taken the Keyboard Cat video and mixed it with other popular songs for comedic effect. There are Keyboard Cat remixes featuring everything from Lady Gaga to Beethoven. These remixes often feature the cat “playing” along to the melody of the song on its keyboard. This further demonstrates how the Keyboard Cat meme has permeated internet culture and inspired new comedic musical content.


In summary, the Keyboard Cat meme has a long and storied history dating back to 1984 when Charlie Schmidt filmed his cat Fatso appearing to play a keyboard. Though originally created decades ago, Keyboard Cat rose to viral fame in 2007 after being posted on YouTube, garnering millions of views. It became one of the first and most iconic internet memes, spawning countless remixes, appearances, and imitations. The musical interjection of Keyboard Cat lightheartedly punctuating human folly became a ubiquitous part of internet culture and entertainment. Though Fatso passed away, the Keyboard Cat meme lives on with successor cats and maintains its significance as an enduring staple of online humor and absurdity. The meme’s ability to persistently delight and amuse after so many years is a testament to its immortal comedic appeal.

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