Morris the Cat (voiced by John Erwin) is the advertising mascot for 9Lives brand cat food, appearing on its packaging and in many of its television commercials.
A large orange tabby tom, he is “the world’s most finicky cat”, eating only 9Lives, and making this preference clear with humorously sardonic voice-over comments when offered other brands. Every can of 9Lives features Morris’s “signature”.
Morris has appeared in other media over the years.
He debuted in the Robert Altman film The Long Goodbye (film) with Elliott Gould, and starred in the movie Shamus with Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon in 1973.
He also appears as a “spokescat” promoting responsible pet ownership, pet health and pet adoptions through animal shelters.
To this end, he has “authored” three books: The Morris Approach, The Morris Method and The Morris Prescription.
He was quoted at the 1993 “end of year” edition of People Magazine which noted 1993 deaths, to which he quoted a simple “Meow” in honor of the death of his friend Spuds MacKenzie.
When he first appeared in British television advertisements in the late 1970s, he was coincidentally voiced by Johnny Morris (then famous in the UK for his anthropomorphic character portrayals in the series Animal Magic), which led many British viewers, unaware of the character’s origins, to wrongly suppose that the cat had been named after Morris himself.
British ads for 9Lives later featured the voice of Richard Briers.
Three different cats have played the famed “Morris the Cat.”
The original Morris was discovered in 1968 at the Hinsdale Humane Society, a Chicago-area animal shelter, by professional animal handler Bob Martwick. That Morris died in 1978.
All cats to play Morris have been rescues, either from an animal shelter or a cat rescue.
The current Morris lives in Los Angeles with his handler, Rose Ordile.
In 2006, Morris was depicted as adopting a kitten, Li’l Mo, from a Los Angeles animal shelter, representing the first adoptee in a campaign known as Morris’s Million Cat Rescue.